AmPro Yamaha’s Steward Baylor Junior came out on top of the 2021 Sumter National Enduro Results. It might be a new year but some things haven’t changed, at least when it comes to the Kenda AMA National Enduro Championship. Once again, the Baylor brothers were found at the front of the field at the Sumter National Enduro, the first round of the 2021 championship season, battling among themselves for the overall win. This time, it was the elder Steward edging out his younger brother, Grant, by 32 seconds.
Heavy rains on Saturday night left the sandy Sumter soil saturated, which made for perfect conditions for the record 949 riders who took to the course starting at 9:00 a.m.
Steward struck early, winning the opening test by 11 seconds over defending NE Pro 2 champ Craig DeLong (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna).Grant got off to a slow start, finishing fifth-fastest in test one.
Meanwhile, XC Gear/Enduro Engineering/Husqvarna’s Ryder Lafferty was third in the test, ahead of FMF/KTM’s Ben Kelley. DeLong turned in his best test of the day in test two by turning the fastest time, three seconds ahead of Kelley.
The Baylors dropped off the pace in test two, with Steward finishing sixth and Grant finishing fourth, however, the dynamic duo would dominate the remainder of the race, as the two riders accounted for all four of the remaining test wins, each taking two wins.
Steward won test four, despite crashing and taking a handlebar to his back, which required stitches afterwards. He left for the hospital immediately after the podium ceremony.
“I’ve always ridden really well here in the past,” said Steward. “It was a little rough there at the end. I rode really strong all day, so it was a solid Sumter, a solid way to start the season. I came in with Epstein-Barr this year, so a little weak, a little tired, but we did everything we could and did exactly what we needed to do to start this year off.”
Heading into the final test, DeLong was just six seconds behind Grant and looking strong. At the finish, however, Grant managed to pull away from the Husqvarna rider, taking the runner-up slot by 34 seconds.
“In the first test I just struggled to find my flow and just got arm pump really bad and struggled to hold on,” said Grant. “By the third test I seemed to start finding my flow a bit. I think I was back in about fifth place after the first two tests. After maybe the fourth test I bumped up to second overall. Then going into the last test there, it was pretty tight between me and Craig. Six seconds apart going into the last test. So, I knew I had to drop the hammer in the last test. I knew I had to go through there without making any mistakes. I just tried to ride that last test really smooth and fast and it seemed to be my best test of the day.”
DeLong’s third-place finish marked his first podium in the NE Pro 1 class.
“Coming in, I wanted to be in the mix and be competitive,” said DeLong. “I didn’t expect a podium, but I’ll take it, for sure. Right from the get-go, I started off really well and kind of maintained it. I had a couple crashes, but other than that it was a pretty solid day.”
Husqvarna/Max Motorsports/FXR Racing’s Evan Smith turned in a nice ride to finish fourth after some extended time off the bike.
“I was super happy to get back to racing. I’ve been waiting a long time for that,” said Smith. “Test one started out pretty reserved, trying to not make any mistakes or pump up or anything, just kind of feel it out. I lost a good bit of time in there and it kind of dug me in a hole. I was definitely in podium contention for a while and was working hard to do that but had a good fall in test five that rung my bell a little bit. All in all, I felt really good on the bike and I was super happy to be back riding.”
Lafferty turned in a solid ride to start off the season, rounding out the top five.
“I didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes, and I just gave it the berries all day,” said Lafferty. “I think we were all really close. I felt like I gave it my all. Just came up a little bit short. But fifth for the first one is solid.”
After running up front for the first half of the race, FMF/KTM’s Ben Kelley suffered two big crashes in test four and settled for sixth.
“I had two good tests, in one and two, and I was feeling good,” said Kelley. “I think I was in third, but close to the leaders. Then test four I kind of just fell apart. I had one pretty big crash, and then closer to the end of the test I had another big one and smacked my knee on a tree and it kind of took the wind out of my sails. It was just hard to ride the rest of the day, but I just did the best I could.”
Making his only National Enduro appearance of the year, Trail Jesters Racing/KTM’s Jesse Ansley turned some heads by winning the NE Pro 2 division with a seventh overall finish.
“I didn’t start off that great,” said Ansley. “I went down in the first test and got hung up where I couldn’t get my bike out of the trees, so I kind of started the day off at a deficit. So, the next test I just gave it my best and I ended up second in the second test and second in the third test. I made sure I just stayed consistent that last test and brought it home for a win.”
After missing half of last year due to an injury, Coastal Racing GasGas’ Ricky Russell returned to action to claim eighth, edging KTM-mounted Zach Hayes by two seconds. Hayes claimed second in the NE Pro 2 class with his ninth-place finish.
Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Liam Draper rounded out the top 10.
FMF/KTM’s Josh Toth managed to get through the day in 11th while riding with a broken hand.
“It would have been too close after surgery, so I just had to suck it up and ride. I plan on getting it fixed on Tuesday morning,” said Toth. “The day went pretty well, with everything considered. I was able to ride pretty well and just tried to be cautious and stay away from all the trees. I’m happy to score some points toward the championship, that was the goal for today.”
Tyler Vore (Husqvarna) finished 12th overall and third in the NE Pro 2 class.
In the Women’s Elite division, KTM-supported rider and four-time AMA EnduroCross Champion Shelby Turner claimed four of the five test wins to take a convincing victory ahead of Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish.
Kawasaki-mounted Korie Steade won
the remaining test to finish third overall, six seconds behind Gutish.
Alex Lugar won the AA class on a Kawasaki, finishing 1:31.00 ahead of KTM-mounted Michael Delosa. Nathan Rector was third on a KTM.
2021 Sumter National Enduro Overall Results
- Steward Baylor (Yam)
- Grant Baylor (GG)
- Craig DeLong (Hus)
- Evan Smith (Hus)
- Ryder Lafferty (Hus)
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Jesse Ansley (KTM)
- Ricky Russell (GG)
- Zach Hayes (KTM)
- Liam Draper (KTM)
Get the full results here: https://www.livelaps.com/clients/?8341
Words and Photography by Shan Moore
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