Trystan Hart is quickly establishing himself as one of the elites in extreme off-road racing. For the second time in a row competing against extreme-racing superstar Cody Webb, Hart has come out on top, this time holding off the six-time Tennessee Knockout Champion for the hard-earned victory. Hart (RPM KTM) flat-out beat Webb (FactoryOne Sherco) and the deep field of talented extreme off-road racers to claim his first Kenda AMA Tennessee Knockout win at the 10th running of the TKO race, which is made up of four stages over the weekend. The Canadian won all of them!
Webb did take a solid second place, saying afterward that he did all he could to beat Hart but to no avail.
Benjamin Herrera (Beta), who traveled from his home country of Chile and competed in the FIM Enduro World Championship last year, rounded out the podium.
In addition to the pro racing, the Kenda Tennessee Knockout serves as the AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship and nearly 300 riders entered the amateur classes to take their shot at earning a number one plate. The top 30 amateur riders also earned the chance to compete with the 26 pre-qualified pro riders.
The weekend started with a Friday prologue qualifier to set starting positions for the two Saturday races with some of the riders already earning a direct spot in the championship-deciding second race via top-10 finishes at one of the six AMA regional championship events. Danny Lewis took the win in that championship event with a time of 1:12:31. Will Riordan finished second with a time of 1:15:45 and Tyler Kincade rounded out the podium with a time of 1:17:31.
Sunday’s format consisted of four rounds of racing for the 56 riders, starting with a hot lap on a mile-long “short course.” Hart set the fastest time with a 5:17.038 lap. SRT Off-Road-backed Cory Graffunder was second with a 5:20.926 lap followed by Husqvarna-mounted Noah Kepple with a 5:27.148. Beta USA’s Max Gerston finished fourth in 5:27.488 and Webb, who had a small crash, rounded out the top five with a 5:27.488.
Knockout round one took place on an 18-mile long loop with the top 25 riders moving on to the next round. The riders took off in 30-second intervals, racing against the clock. Hart set the fastest time again with a 57:23.237. Webb came back to set the second-fastest time at 1:00:08.783. Herrera showed his pace by setting the third-fastest time (1:00:50.976). Gerston was fourth (1:01:33.401) and teenager Ryder LeBlond (1:02:23.687) rounded out the top five.
Knockout round two switched from a race against the clock to a head-to-head format with four groups of five riders, and one group of six after a 26th rider earned a spot in the next round after out-dueling three other riders in the LCQ. In this round, those five groups competed for the 15 spots in the final by finishing in the top three in their respective groups. This was back on the 18-mile long course with several extremely challenging sections added in. Hart won group one over Keith Curtis and Will Riordan, who was one of the Saturday qualifiers. Webb won group two over Kepple and Graffunder. Herrera won group three over Beta USA’s Ronnie Commo and Sherco’s Quinn Wentzel. Gerston won group four over Jordan Ashburn and RPM KTM’s Cooper Abbott. Ashburn, who rides for the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki GNCC team borrowed his dad’s 1998 Kawasaki KDX 200 and put it into the main event. Sherco’s Nick Fahringer won group five over LeBlond and Saturday’s Amateur class winner Danny Lewis.
The main event moved back to the short course with a 30-minute-plus-one-lap battle. Hart jumped out to the early lead and managed to maintain it for the entire race, despite steady pressure by Webb. Webb ended up finishing just over 35 seconds behind Hart.
Herrera came out on top of a race-long battle with Kepple for the final podium spot. It was a strong ride for both riders. Curtis, who is a multi-time Snowmobile Hillclimb Champion rounded out the top five on a Husqvarna. Kepple and Curtis were both filling in for the Husqvarna team due to Colton Haaker still being out with an injured hand.
Gerston had a tough first lap that put him well down the field, but he rode a strong race to finish sixth. LeBlond finished seventh on his KTM. Riordan, another teenager, finished eighth and was the highest-placed rider that qualified through from Saturday’s racing. Graffunder finished ninth on his Husqvarna and Fahringer rounded out the top 10 on his Sherco.
“The most stressful part of the day was having Cody right behind me for the entire main event,” Hart said. “He is one of the best riders in the world at this and I knew that if I made any mistakes that he would take advantage.”
“Hats off to Trystan, he had a really good ride today, and I didn’t feel like could do anything more,” said Webb. “I wiped out hard in the hot lap today, so I made my mechanic work hard today. I am happy with second because I know that I did everything I could.”
Herrera traveled from his home country of Chile in 2018 to compete in the TKO and EnduroCross events but raced the FIM Enduro World Championship series in 2019. He is back for more racing in the U.S. in 2020. “I am really happy with my result because I raced fast enduro last year in the World Championship, so this is a big change with this kind of race. I like the format and hard-enduro, so I hope to compete more for this year and next year.”
The Women’s class had a total of 12 riders that tried to earn a spot in the main event by completing the morning race within the two and a half-hour time limit and three of those riders moved forward to the main. The main event had a similar format to the men with a modified version of the short-course and a 15-minute-plus-one-lap race. Beta USA-backed Rachel Gutish took her second consecutive TKO win and AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship with a strong ride with a total race time of 19:41.
Canadian Shelby Turner finished second on her KTM, 48 seconds back, and Louise Forsley rounded out the podium on her Sherco. CN
2020 Kenda Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro
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RESULTS (August 14-16, 2020)
- Trystan Hart (KTM)
- Cody Webb (She)
- Benjamin Herrera (Bet)
- Noah Kepple (Hus)
- Keith Curtis (Hus)
- Max Gerston (Bet)
- Ryder LeBlond (KTM)
- Will Riordan (KTM)
- Cory Graffunder (Hus)
- Nick Fahringer (She)