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Grant Baylor Tops Alligator National Enduro
KR4 Arrive-n-Ride Husqvarna’s Grant Baylor turned up the heat in the final test of the day to capture a come-from-behind victory at this weekend’s Alligator National Enduro, round two of the 2017 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing in Ormond Beach, Florida. The win made it two in a row for the Baylor family, as Grant’s big brother, Steward, won the opening round of the series last month in Sumter, South Carolina.
Grant came into the final test of the day sitting 12 seconds behind Steward. Test six would turn out to be the tightest test of the day, which played right into Grant’s wheelhouse. The South Carolina rider excels in the tight stuff, and he dominated the final test, putting him 15 seconds ahead of his brother at the end of the day for the overall win.
Midway into the event, Grant’s day didn’t appear to be going in the right direction, however, as a course marking issue in test three resulted in some of the competitors – including Grant – riding a section of the course twice, while other riders benefitted from a shortcut that opened up as a result of the marking issue.
Grant lost about a minute to some of the top Pro riders in test three because of the incident. However, the promoters properly removed the test from the overall scoring, which put all of the riders back on equal ground for the rest of the event.
The win was a big relief for Grant since he had suffered a disappointing eighth at the opening round in Sumter.“It feels great to get the win,” said Grant. “I’ve been struggling this year with injuries and I wasn’t at my best in Sumter, so it feels good to be running with these guys again. I rode pretty steady all day except for a big crash in test two. In the third test I got lost along with a few other riders, but luckily they threw the test out. I still would have finished second overall if they kept the test in. Steward had a pretty good lead on me going into the final test and he didn’t know they threw the third test out so I don’t think he pushed as hard as he could have. It was a really tight test and I knew I could make up a lot of time in there if I pushed, and that’s what I did. It came down to just a few second between me and Stew and I just happened to come out on top.”
Steward finished the event in second overall, which extended his lead in the championship standings.
Cory Buttrick also benefitted from a strong ride in the final test and finished off the event in third. The SRT KTM rider said test six was one of the tightest he’s ever ridden.
“I couldn’t keep the bike off the ground in the first few tests, but I managed to get it together about midway into the race and then I made up a lot of ground in that last test,” said Buttrick. “It was so tight in there you had to almost come to a stop in some turns, but I never gave up and kept pushing and that allowed me to pass Kailub and Thad to get third.”
Fourth overall went to Solid Performance KTM’s Jesse Groemm. The New Jersey got off to a slow start but came on strong later in the race. Groemm won test five and finished second in the last test, but missed the podium by four seconds to Buttrick.
“I didn’t get off to the best of starts, but we made a few adjustments and we came back strong,” said Groemm. “I ride a lot of sand back home in New Jersey so I was prepared for the race, but the palmettos add a dimension that’s difficult to prepare for.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thad DuVall was fifth, five second behind Groemm and four seconds ahead of FMF KTM’s Kailub Russell. DuVall was in the running for the win early in the race, but dropped off the pace when the tests started getting tight.
Russell won the second test of the day, but like DuVall, he struggled in the tighter tests, leaving him in sixth for the day.
Seventh and eighth went to N-FAB Am Pro Yamaha teammates Josh Toth and Ricky Russell. Both Toth and Russell are still learning the ropes in the national enduro series but show good speed and lots of promise.
RPM Racing’s Chris Bach made a rare national enduro appearance payoff with ninth overall, while FMF KTM’s Russell Bobbitt capped off a disappointing day with 10th overall.
In the Rekluse/Expert AA division, Airgroup Racing/Enduro Engineering Husqvarna Racing’s Thorn Devlin grabbed his second win of the season, beating KTM-mounted Adam Bonneur almost two minutes. Scott Gawler Jr. put his Kawasaki into third about seven seconds behind Bonneur.
“It kind of surprised me that I won so easily because I felt like I was struggling out there,” said Devlin. “I had a really bad get-off in the transfer heading to the fourth test and I hit the ground petty hard.”
Despite the crash, Devlin’s finish was also good enough for 20th overall.
Winning the Women’s Elite division was Australia’s Tayla Jones on her KR4 Husqvarna. Jones turned in a stellar performance that put her 11 minutes-and-five-seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Sarah Baldwin (Hsq) at the finish of the race.
“I really enjoyed the race and I’ve enjoyed my time down here in Florida,” said Jones. “I race a lot of desert races in Australia and I really like riding the sand, so the conditions were familiar, although a lot tighter than I am used to.”
The 2017 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing resumes action with round three of the series on April 30th in Forest Hills, Louisiana for the Cajun National Enduro. For more information on the series check out www.nationalenduro.com.
1. Grant Baylor (Hsq) 2. Steward Baylor (KTM) 3. Cory Buttrick (KTM) 4. Jesse Groemm (KTM) 5. Thad DuVall (Hsq) 6. Kailub Russell (KTM) 7. Josh Toth (Yam) 8. Ricky Russell (Yam) 9. Chris Bach (KTM) 10. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
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