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2021 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing Preview
Last season saw a lot of firsts for the National Enduro Series along with the country. We combated Covid 19 with new regulations in place to allow us to return to racing safely. Racing was one way for life to feel normal for the National Enduro racing family. We saw Grant Baylor finally able to pull of his First AMA National Enduro Championship. Along with Grants Championship saw Sherco Motorcycles win their First Ever AMA National Enduro Championship. NE Pro2 Class saw a first time NE Pro2 National Enduro Champion with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Rider Craig Delong. This came 6 years after Craigs Brother, Andrew Delong won his First and only AMA National Enduro Championship for the same Factory Husqvarna Race team. Mackenzie Tricker was able to win her first back to back Womenís Elite National Enduro Championship on her Enduro Engineering KTM. 26 other amateur riders were also crowned National Enduro Champions in their respective classes. That was a short 12 weeks ago, and this Sunday we are starting the 2021 Kenda AMA National Enduro Championship presented by Moose Racing at the Sumter National Enduro.
The Sumter National Enduro is the most popular enduro in the United States at the current time, with over 900 riders to sign up in less than 1 minute. Unfortunately, unlike years past we will not be able to have a waiting list this year due to covid restrictions. Sumter National Enduro pulls in a large number of riders with most of the best American Style Enduro Racers on the planet in attendance. Lets look ahead to see who will be in the running and what they will be riding.
Grant Baylor will be coming off his first ever National Enduro Championship in 2020 with Sherco. Moving into the 2021 season, Grant has switched teams and will be riding for KLM Motorsports Gas Gas team. Grant should be able to feel right at home quickly on the Gas Gas bike with it sharing a lot of characteristics with the KTM that he has spent a lot of his career on. Grant has never been known to come out to the first round firing. Most of the past, Grant has been coming into the opening round a little banged up. But, for the second year in a row, as far we know Grant is healthy coming in to round 1. Last year was the same story and he was able to win his first National Enduro Championship. Lets see what the new Gas Gas and Grant have in store for the 2021 Season.
STEWARD BAYLOR JR
Stu Baylor had a roller coaster of a ride for the 2020 Season. Going from being on a brand new Factory Team, to have surgery on a injury, to being in the hospital, to not having a ride and missing races, to riding a different color bike each week, to finally seeming to find his home on an AM Pro Yamaha. Somehow through all of this, Stu found himself with a chance to win a National Enduro Championship going into the final round. Baylor was able to finish the season Second overall behind his Brother Grant. Now with a full support deal through the AM Pro Yamaha team moving into 2021, Steward Baylor is going to be looking to add his name to the list of 5 time National Enduro Champions. You can bet that after the year Stu had last year, and coming into 2021 healthy with a support ride, he will be one to look out for in the 2021 Season.
Josh Toth was unable to ride the Sumter National Enduro last season due to a leg injury days before the event. Even with missing the first round Josh Toth was able to string together a few wins in the middle part of the 2020 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series. The RedBull Factory KTM rider found himself in contention for the championship for a better part of the year. At the Lead Belt National Enduro Josh suffered a broken hand from a crash at the end of the race. He required surgery on the hand to be able to race just 2 weeks later at the Little Raccoon National Enduro. Josh put in a great fight the last bit of the series last year despite the hand injury, and even had a slight chance to win the championship going into the final round in Texas. Toth came up just short and was third overall for the Championship, but showed that he has the speed and can win National Enduros on a regular basis. Look for the Factory KTM to be on the podium many times in 2021.
Another RedBull Factory KTM Rider to look out for is Ben Kelley. Ben Kelley won the opening round at Sumter last year, but was then plagued by an injury shortly after the opening round. Ben had a string of top 5 finishes throughout the rest of the season but was not able to make it back on to the podium until the final round in Texas where he scored a 3rd place finish. Ben Kelley has put in the work in the off season for sure to be back where he was at the start of last season, and will be digging deep to win that first round for the second year in a row.
Another first during the 2020 Kenda AMA National Enduro series came when Ryder Lafferty was able to grab his first ever National Enduro Overall win at the Lead Belt National Enduro. Ryder won the tightest racing that we have ever seen beating both of the Baylor Brothers by less than 1 second. Less than 1 second separated the top 3 riders that day. Since then Ryder Lafferty has been looking to grab his second Overall win. Lafferty was able to land on the podium twice last year to put him 5th overall for the championship. To the XC Gear/ Enduro Engineering Husqvarna rider, 5th isnít good enough and he wants to etch another Lafferty name into the record books as a National Enduro Championship winner.
OTHER NOTABLES IN THE NE PRO1 CLASS
Ricky Russell was only able to race 1 National Enduro last season due to a serious injury suffered in a GNCC early in the year. Ricky has not been able to race since that injury, but will be making a return to the Sumter National Enduro with the same team, but now the Factory GasGas Coastal Racing team.
Thorn Devlin will be returning to the circuit with his Factory Beta team this season. Thorn is rumored to be riding the new Beta 350 four stroke, which will be a big change for Thorn since all we have seen him ride for the past 5 or more years is a two Stroke. Thorn was able to grab a podium finish last year at the Grassman National Enduro in Ohio.
Evan Smith was a contender each week for a podium position in the 2019 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series, but was set back last year with injury. Evan is looking to make a return to the series in 2021 and will be hungry for podium finishes.
Last years NE Pro2 National Enduro Champion Craig Delong will be making the move up to the NE Pro1 class for the 2021 season onboard his Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna team. He had a highlight year in 2020 winning the NE Pro2 championship in the National Enduros, but also taking the XC2 Pro Lites class championship in the GNCC Series. Craig Delong is used to winning and will want to continue to do so in the 2021 Season.
NOTABLES IN THE NE PRO2 CLASS
The NE Pro2 Class is stacked with a lot of names that want to take the 2021 NE Pro2 National Enduro Championship. We will see a new Champion this year with last two years champions in Craig Delong and Liam Draper racing in the NE Pro1 division.
Vince Smith was the highest placing rider in the 2020 season that will be returning for the 2021 season. Vince found the podium once at the Lead Belt National Enduro and found the top 5 a few times to finish the season 3rd in the class. He has a new Kawasaki Deal for 2021 and is looking to contend for the Championship.
Hunter Bush was 4th overall in the class in the 2020 season and wants nothing more but to find the podium and perhaps a couple wins in the 2021 season. Hunter always seems to be right there in the top 5 of the NE Pro2 class but just hasnít quite been able to pull off the win. Perhaps 2021 can be the year for Hunter Bush.
Mike McGinnis rounded out the top 5 in the class last season with a podium finish at the Grassman National Enduro in Ohio. Mike consistently is in the hunt for the NE Pro2 class podium. 2021 could be the year he gets hot and contends for the wins week in and week out.
Other names listed in the line up for the Opening Round at Sumter that could pull off a win include Noah Clark, Ben Nelko, Jonathon Johnson, The Hayes Brothers in Chase and Zack, Max Fernandez, Tegan Temple, Will Sievenpiper, and Jesse Ansley.
WOMENíS ELITE CLASS CONTENDERS
The 2021 Sumter National Enduro has the deepest field of Womenís Elite Racers. With 17 riders signed up for the opening round, it is anybodyís race to win.
Mackenzie Tricker is coming off of back to back Womenís Elite National Enduro Championships. But she ended her season early last year to have surgery on a nagging knee injury. She still is not 100% after the surgery and has not ridden a bike since October last year. Sumter National Enduro will likely be the first time on a bike since then.
2018 Womenís Elite National Enduro Champion Tayla Jones is back to race the 2021 Kenda AMA National Enduro Championship. The fellow Aussie Country woman to Mackenzie, Tayla Jones is also coming back to racing for the first time at Sumter since her knee surgery last year. Tayla Jones is much further along in her recovery process and wants to contend for a win at the Sumter National Enduro.
Rachel Gutish was really firing last season on her Factory Beta Bike. Winning 4 races last year, including the Little Raccoon National Enduro where she drove through the night from a Hard Enduro Race she wrapped the win up early. Rachel is a die hard racer that is known to race Saturday, drive halfway across the country to race again Sunday and contend for a win both days. She could just as easily get on a hot streak and win a National Enduro Championship.
Brooke Cosner seemed to be on the podium every single race last season on her Sherco. Likely to be riding a different brand machine in the 2021 Season, Brooke would like to continue to be a player for the podium each race.
Other notables for the Womenís Elite class are Tayler Bonecutter, Jocelyn Barnes, Allie Spurgeon, Shelby Turner, and many others that are looking to make the podium at the season opener in South Carolina.
For more information go to www.nationalenduro.com