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Michael Aces Hidden Valley Golf Course Sprint Enduro
Report Shan Moore

AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael claimed his third win in a row in the Kenda US Sprint Enduro Series victory with a dominating performance at this weekend’s Hidden Valley Golf Course Sprint Enduro, round five of the series in Glen Daniel, West Virginia, and by doing so wrapped up the Pro championship with one round remaining on the schedule.  

Rain off and on all weekend made for a very slippery course, but Michael was unphased, winning nine of the 12 tests (all six on Saturday and three on Sunday) to outdistance runner-up Thad DuVall (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) by 49 seconds over the course of the two-day event.

“To win the championship is pretty cool,” said Michael. “I’ve been chasing a professional championship for a while now, so this is a stepping stone. I’ve been close. Last year I was close with Kailub, I just struggled in the beginning of the season and wasn’t there, but at the end I was battling for wins. I knew coming into this year this was definitely one I was wanting to wrap up. To get it done a round early is pretty cool.”

After an extended time off the bike due to injury, Duvall has been riding himself back into form during the last few weeks and looked especially good on Sunday, where he won two of the enduro tests.

“I rode much better weekend this weekend, especially today; I felt like I kept Layne pretty honest today. Yesterday he was hammering us in the cross test,” said DuVall. “I feel like I’m getting more comfortable riding that edge that it takes to win these things. I just kind of found some lines this morning and went with them and they worked out pretty good.”

Johnny Girroir wrapped up the Pro2 title a race early with a third overall. The Coastal Racing GasGas rider swept all 12 tests in the Pro2 division and even won the final cross test outright against the Pros.

“It feels good, a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Girroir. “I’m excited to be a back-to-back champ in sprint racing. I really enjoy this kind of racing. I kind of was struggling in the grass track a little bit. Kind of just fighting myself. But the last grass test, I aced it. I did it as perfect as I could. I actually ended up getting the overall win on that last grass test, so that felt really good.”

Tely Energy KTM’s Liam Draper was third in the Pro division and fourth overall. Draper was in the hunt all weekend for second overall, mixing it up with DuVall and Girroir.

“Layne put it to us again, but me and Thad were like one second apart in some tests,” said Draper. “I crashed in the first enduro test today and then crashed again, which cost me a lot of time. So it was a rough today but I was still close and I was happy with the last test for the day.”

As usual, Ben Nelko was super-fast in the cross test, but this weekend the Seven Sixty Racing Husqvarna rider found his groove in the enduro test, which propelled him to fifth overall and second in the Pro2 division.

“I finally figured out the enduro test,” said Nelko. “I’ve been working with Stew Baylor at the Shoals MX a lot, focusing on the woods more than riding moto like I’ve been in the past. It was good. I know that I'm always going to be solid on the cross test, so we just worked the woods mainly and it worked out. It was a good weekend.”

Rounding out the Pro2 podium with sixth overall was Max Sports/FXR/Husqvarna’s Evan Smith, who was racing his first sprint enduro in two years.  

“It was good returning to the sprint format,” said Smith. “They’re a lot higher intensity than I was ready for. I haven’t done anything like this practicing in two years since I raced them. So it was a bit of a learning curve. I got a lot better towards the end of the weekend, but I fell down a few times and came out of some tests not breathing that heavy, knowing I didn’t try hard enough. But all in all, it was really fun.”

Second in points in the Pro2 division, Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Jesse Ansley was disappointed in fourth in class and seventh overall.

“Definitely not the greatest, that’s for sure but we lived to see another day,” said Ansley. “I’ve just got to get better at slick conditions. I’m still sitting second in points right now and it’s getting pretty close to the last round, but we’ll go back and regroup and just try to figure it out.”

Brendon Poling made his first appearance of the year and came away with fifth in the Pro2 class and eighth overall on a Kawasaki. Meanwhile, Coastal Racing GasGas’ Cole Whitmer was top Amateur in ninth overall and first in the 250 A class despite hitting a tree in the final test of the weekend and injuring his knee.

“I was trying to ride high on a bank and kind of lost traction and my rear end started going down towards a tree and kind of split it right in the middle and wrapped my leg around the tree,” said Whitmer. “I pretty much rode solid all day, except for that last test crash.”

West Virginia rider Tyler Braniff rounded out the top 10 overall and first in Open A on a Yamaha.

Dalton Seals (Yam) took top honors in the Pro-Am class after sweeping all 12 tests. Seals topped runner-up Zach Nash (KTM) by 1:32, while Earl Luhn III was third, just over two minutes back.

Bandy Richards (KTM) travelled all the way from Arizona to win the Pro Women’s class. It was her first race on the east coast in over a year.

“I was a little nervous coming in because I saw there was rain,” said Richards. “Back west we don’t have rain, so it’s all dry and dusty. I was a little nervous but excited to get the time in in the mud. The first enduro test was a little hectic. I got a little stuck on some tree roots and stuff and just kind of getting used to the slick, tight stuff really. Just kind of progressed throughout the weekend. Day two, today, I felt phenomenal all day, really, especially in the woods. I was just picking up some good speed, getting a lot more comfortable in that slick stuff. So I'm extremely happy with how the weekend went.”

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones was second, which was good enough to clinch the Pro Women’s championship.

Rachel Archer wrapped her AmPro Yamaha around a tree in the first test and rode the remainder of the event with a bent bike to finish third, with Allie Spurgeon (Hsq) and Britney Gallegos rounding out the top five.

Cole Forbes was the class of the morning Youth races, taking a dominating win in the Super Mini Sr. (14-15) 80-112cc Two-stroke/75-150cc Four-stroke class. The KTM rider won all 12 tests in his class.

Best in the Super Mini Jr (12-13) 80-112cc two-stroke/75-150cc four-stroke class was Peyton Feather on a KTM.

 KTM rider Jonathan Snyder took first in the 85 SR (12-15) 66-85cc Two-stroke/75-125cc Four-stroke class.

The Kenda US Sprint Enduro Series resumes on July 17-18 for the sixth and final round of its series at the Wassell Works Sprint Enduro in Westernport, Maryland. For more information on the Kenda US Sprint Enduro Series go to www.ussprintenduro.com .

OVERALL RESULTS

1. Layne Michael (Yam)
2. Thad DuVall (Hsq)
3. Johnny Girroir (GG)
4. Liam Draper (KTM)
5. Ben Nelko (Hsq)

6. Evan Smith (Hsq)
7. Jesse Ansley (KTM)
8. Brendon Poling (Kaw)
9. Cole Whitmer (GG)
10. Tyler Braniff (Yam)