FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Ben Kelley won the sixth and final test of the 2020 Sumter National Enduro, round one of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series in Sumter, South Carolina, to come from behind and edge defending series champ Steward Baylor by nine seconds for the win. The victory was Kelley’s first-ever in the National Enduro series and it came after he had sat out the 2019 series altogether, instead focusing on GNCC.
Rain the week leading up to the race left the Sumter sandy trail in perfect condition for race day, which was overcast and in the 60s.
The first enduro of the year was held on the Sumter Enduro Riders Motorcycle Association grounds in Sumter, South Carolina, where the Baylor brothers, Steward and Grant, made their debut on the new FactoryONE Sherco Team aboard 450 SEF four-strokes. This set the stage for an all-out war for woods supremacy among a number of manufacturers, including KTM, Sherco, Husqvarna, Beta, and Honda, that are competing in this year’s series.
Despite having lost one of its two factory riders, Josh Tosh, to a leg injury just a few days earlier, it was Tosh’s teammate, Kelley, on the FMF/KTM-backed 350 XC-F, who fired the first shot of the year by leading the race through the first four tests.
However, Steward caught the KTM rider in the fifth test and led him by two seconds heading into the final test of the day. But it wouldn’t be enough.
Kelley led from the start after posting the fastest times in the first two tests. Then, after dropping behind Steward by two seconds in the fifth test, Kelley came back with an impressive performance in the 10-mile final test, giving the Connecticut rider the overall win. It was an exciting way to start off the 2020 season.
The Baylor brothers switched to the FactoryONE Sherco team during the off-season after spending much of their careers on KTM. Unfortunately, they were still putting the final touches on their bikes on Friday before the race, giving them just one day of saddle time before the race. Despite arriving late to the party, Steward finished second, nine seconds behind Kelley, while Grant, finished third, another 17 seconds back. Despite it all, it was a good start for the Sherco team, with both of its riders finishing out the day on the podium.
Regardless, the Baylor brothers were considered the favorites heading into the race since Sumter was a home race for the South Carolina duo and the duo combined to win nine of the 10 rounds on the national circuit last year. Stewart and Grant ended up finishing 1-2 in the championship last year.
Grant missed round one of the series last year due to an injury, so he was pleased to start the 2020 season on the podium.
Steward won two tests on the day, while Grant took one test win.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Thad Duvall, who is getting over a knee injury, finished fourth on his FX 350 four-stroke. Like Kelley, Duvall skipped the National Enduro season last year, when both KTM and Husqvarna elected to sit out the series. Despite being away from the enduro scene for over a year, Duvall managed a solid fourth.
Trevor Bollinger, Duvall’s Rockstar Energy Husqvarna teammate and new to the enduro championship, rounded out the top five, despite not being used to the tight trail.
Just 16 seconds behind Bollinger came Coastal Racing Husqvarna’s Ricky Russell, who is new to the series, as well.
Andrew Delong, who won the AMA National Enduro title in 2014, put his Phoenix Honda Racing Honda into seventh, with Gnarly Routes KTM’s Russell Bobbitt about a minute back for eighth.
Beta USA-backed Thorn Devlin returned from last season’s disappointing shoulder injury at the Tulsa round to bring his two-stroke home in ninth.
Rounding out the top 10 overall and winning the NE Pro2 class was Toyota/Kenda tires/XC gear-backed Jonathan Johnson, who was racing in only his second National Enduro.
Second in the NE Pro2 class was Beta USA’s Cody Barnes with an 11th overall finish, while KTM-mounted Zack Hayes finished 12th overall and third in the NE Pro2 class.
In the Women’s Elite class, Enduro Engineering/ Mepmx/Fly/Grizzly Peak/Traveler’s Rest Speedway KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker was tops after winning four of the five tests.
Second in the class went to Am Pro Yamaha’s Rachel Archer. The New Zealander won the fifth and final test and was less than a minute behind Tricker at the end of the day.
Third went to KTM rider Shelby Turner, who battled most of the day with Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish. Gutish had an up and down day, finishing second in two of the tests, however, a nasty crash in test three put her at a big disadvantage.
Honda-mounted Brody Johnson won the AA class, ahead of Will Sievenpiper and Suzuki-mounted Andrew Matusek.
Sumter National Enduro
2020 Kenda National Enduro Championship
Results: February 2, 2020
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