Steward Baylor came from behind to win round two of the Kenda U.S. Sprint Enduro Series held at The Shoals MX complex in Donalds, South Carolina, beating out AmPro Yamaha teammate Layne Michael by 17 seconds to complete a Yamaha 1-2 sweep.
The competition was close on Saturday, with the top four riders finishing within 1.7 seconds of each other after six tests (three Cross tests and three Enduro tests).
Tely Energy Racing KTM’s Liam Draper won two Enduro tests and finished Saturday’s event in first overall, 0.25 seconds ahead of Michael, with Baylor third, another 0.7 seconds back. Top Pro 2 rider, Johnny Girroir (Coastal Racing GasGas), was fourth overall.
Babbitt’s Online Team Green Kawasaki’s Lyndon Snodgrass was the wild card, winning two of the Cross tests and finishing the day fifth overall.
Baylor was surprised to be sitting fourth at the time, since he owns the Shoals MX facility.
“I thought I had a good advantage here, since this is my track, but the guys proved me wrong,” said Baylor. “I don’t know if it was more mental or physical, I just wasn’t riding my best yesterday. I felt like I was riding really well and I was just getting beat.”
Perhaps riding angry, Baylor came out swinging on Sunday, winning the first Enduro test by eight seconds ahead of Girroir, and then backing that up with a win in the second Enduro test by nine seconds over Michael. He added a win in the final Enduro test and in two of the Cross tests.
In the end, Baylor won the combined overall by a little less than 17 seconds ahead of Michael, with Girroir third, another 13 seconds back.
“I spent a lot of time walking the Enduro test this morning, which is where I was struggling,” said Baylor. “I pedaled that track and really over-analyzed everything, and it paid off. I guess it goes to show nobody has an advantage at these things. It’s just who the fastest rider is at the end. Those guys were faster than me yesterday.”
Michael was second on both days and second overall, having won an Enduro test on Saturday and a Cross test on Sunday.
“I rode really well all weekend, stayed off the ground and just tried to be smooth,” said Michael. “I came in a little banged up from the Georgia GNCC and didn’t feel the best, but we made due. Actually, my riding was really good this weekend, and I was close to Stew going into today, but Stew just obliterated us in the Enduro test today. I was riding pissed off about it. I was trying everything I could, but he just definitely had the edge out there today. Got better as we went on and got a little closer, but, overall, I just didn’t really have much for him.”
Girroir was third overall for the weekend and first in the Pro2 class.
“I had a good day yesterday and I was in the mix,” said Girroir. “But the track changed drastically overnight and today it was super dry and slippery, so you just had to kind of drift it and tip-toe around and that made it tricky. I’m usually better in the ruts and softer stuff.”
Draper was on the gas on Saturday, winning two of the Enduro tests. However, a mishap on Sunday put the New Zealander in a hole he couldn’t climb out of and he wound up finishing fourth overall for the weekend and third in the Pro 1 division.
“On Saturday, I just hit my marks all day, no mistakes, no crashes or bad lines and I ended up winning the last two Enduro tests,” said Draper. “And that’s the closest I’ve ever been to Layne and Stew in Cross tests, so it was just a good day; I was stoked to win my first Sprint Enduro in Pro 1 class. Today I started off okay in the Cross test, but in the first Enduro test I had a good crash and had to come back down a hill and go up again. So, I lost 19 seconds to them there and that kind of set me back for the rest of the day.”
Snodgrass was extremely fast in the Cross test, but inconsistent in the Enduro test. The Aussie off-roader finished the weekend fifth overall and second in the Pro 2 class.
“I was kind of up and down,” admitted Snodgrass. “I was struggling with the Enduro test. It had a lot of tight woods in it and that’s not something I’ve done much riding in. The Cross test was kind of what I’m used to riding and I really enjoyed it.”
760 Husqvarna’s Ben Nelko was running strong on Saturday in the Pro 2 class, however, a crash in the final Enduro test cost the Pennsylvania rider considerable time. Nelko was sixth overall and third in the Pro 2 division.
“I started out strong on Saturday. I was running second place for most of the day,” said Nelko. “I had a bad crash on the last Enduro test, which kind of shook me up a bit. I have a bad hip and I tweaked it pretty good, so I kind of just rode for third. On Sunday, I started out really strong all the way until the second Enduro test, where I had another crash. Me and Lyndon were swapping back and forth from second and third. It was a good weekend all in all, but I’m still learning these things. It takes time to get that speed in the woods and being consistent. But it’s going up from here.”
Massachusetts rider Bubz Tasha was the best of the Pro-Am riders, finishing in seventh overall on his Husqvarna and winning the Pro-Am division. Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Simon Johnson was eighth overall and fourth in the Pro 2 class.
Forrest Player (KTM) and Dalton Seals (Yam) rounded out the top 10. Player was second in the Pro-Am class while Seals was third.
The Women’s Pro class was an exciting race down to the wire, with AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer taking the win over Babbitts Online Team Green Kawasaki’s Kori Steede by 0.23 seconds. Magna1 Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones was third.
“I wasn’t really expecting to come out on top today,” said Archer. “I was losing a bit of time on the Cross test and then today I just sorted my stuff out and was doing well in the woods and it paid off.”
Raines Racing Yamaha’s Preston Raines was fourth, with Brooke Cosner (GG) in fifth.
Kenda U.S. Sprint Enduro Series
The Shoals MX complex
Donalds, South Carolina
RESULTS (March 20-21, 2021)
||(GG) Pro 2
||(Kaw) Pro 2
||(Hus) Pro 2
||(KTM) Pro 2
Click here for complete Shoals Sprint Enduro results.