Strang Weathers Storm to Take Full Gas Sprint Enduro Round Four Win

Josh Strang took the win by over a minute after two days of racing.

Josh Strang took the win by over a minute after two days of racing.

Riders from twenty states converged in Altamont, TN for the fourth round of the KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing. With severe storms moving from Texas throughout the entire East Coast it looked like a mud race was almost a guarantee, but storms swirled around the mountain top location during Saturday’s racing treating riders to nearly perfect conditions on the rolling grass track cross test and the 100% fresh-cut enduro test. It wasn’t until two tests to go on the second day of racing that the sky opened up and a torrential rain storm soaked the property making the final two tests of the day slippery and technical, reminiscent of European World Enduro tests that serve as the inspiration for the series.

The first racer to hit the cross test was previous round winner, Coastal Racing’s Layne Michael, who put down a 3:24.900 test time good enough for second-place on the test behind Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang—who took the first of seven cross test wins for the weekend—with a 3:20.937 test time. SRT Off-Road’s Cory Buttrick was 3rd in the test ahead of series points leader, AMPRO Yamaha’s Daniel Milner. FMF/KTM’s Russell Bobbitt was the 5th pro in the test, but 6th overall as amateur racer Billy Schlag snagged a fifth-place in the test to start the weekend.

Russel Bobbitt finished second in Tennessee.

Russel Bobbitt finished second in Tennessee.

Strang and Michael would stay at the top after the second test of the day, the racer’s first time through the enduro test, with Strang extending his lead to 8-seconds after two tests ahead of Michael. Westfield Powersports KTM racer, and Tenneseee native, Jordan Ashburn would get into the mix with a 3rd-place finish in the enduro test ahead of Russell Bobbitt and KR4 Performance’s Thad DuVall who was racing aboard a Husqvarna TE300 two-stroke, the same machine he will be racing in this year’s ISDE in Spain as a member of the USA World Trophy Team.

Disaster would strike in the enduro test for series points leader Daniel Milner who would break his fibula in a crash when his front wheel washed out in a corner. “I lost the front end and went down and my leg felt like it just shattered,” said Milner. The Australian booked a flight back to his home country and has a surgery already scheduled to repair his leg in hopes of being back and ready to compete for Australia in this year’s ISDE.

Josh Strang would continue to extend his lead throughout the day with big cross test wins and sweeping all but one enduro test win on the day. With Milner out of the event with injury, an all-out battle ensued for second through sixth with Russell Bobbitt taking an enduro test win, and Jordan Ashburn, Layne Michael, Cory Buttrick, and Thad DuVall mixing it up in each test with very close test times.

Layne Michael on his way to third.

Layne Michael on his way to third.

At the end of the first day of racing, Strang was out front with a 33-second lead ahead of Jordan Ashburn who had a four-second cushion over Russell Bobbitt. Layne Michael sat another four seconds behind Bobbitt with Cory Buttrick in fifth and Thad DuVall in sixth, only twenty-seconds behind Ashburn setting up a five-way battle for the podium on the second day of racing.

A rain shower early on Sunday morning meant slick conditions for the first racer to hit the cross test, but Josh Strang continued his solid ride and extended his lead with the test win and would never look back, taking 2 more cross test wins on the day and staying in the top-5 in both enduro tests to take the overall victory by 1-minute.

Cory Buttrick was fifth.

Cory Buttrick was fifth.

Thad DuVall, who switched back to his familiar Husqvarna FC350 for the second day of racing grabbed the second test win to get himself back into contention for a podium spot on the weekend but would ultimately fall short after two bad tests as the rains began to fall. He would, however, move into the overall series points lead after Milner’s injury.

Russell Bobbitt seemed to get faster as the conditions worsened, taking the final enduro test win as the rain began to fall heavily. The enduro test win and a 3rd-place in the final cross test of the weekend were good enough to secure a 2nd-place finish for the FMF/KTM racer, his first Full Gas Sprint Enduro podium of the year. “Ashburn got me by two seconds at the end of Saturday so I knew I had to pick it up on Sunday,” said Bobbitt. “The conditions were slippery on Sunday and I just tried to ride smooth and stay off the ground and I think that was key,” added the 4-time National Enduro champion.

Round three winner, Layne Michael, would also move past Ashburn in the overall to claim the final podium spot for the weekend. “I put myself into a hole with a bad fourth test on Saturday but was able to pick up the pace today and get back onto the podium,” said Michael.

Ashburn, who struggled in the slippery conditions on Sunday would ultimately finish 4th-place overall 13-seconds behind Michael. SRT Off-Road’s Cory Buttrick would round out the top-five, just 2-seconds shy of Ashburn.

The Women's podium was comprised of Brooke Cosner (L), Rachel Gutish (C), and Becca Sheets (R)

The Women's podium was comprised of Brooke Cosner (L), Rachel Gutish (C), and Becca Sheets (R)

In the Women’s Pro class, Rachel Gutish would take the overall win just two-seconds ahead of Brooke Cosner in 2nd. The racing was intense between the two, with Gutish finishing just one-tenth-of-a-second ahead of Cosner on Sunday. Becca Sheets would round out the Women’s Pro podium.

The Top Amateur spot would go to Cody Pingley who took the Open A Class win and end the weekend in an impressive 9th-place overall position. Billy Schlag, who took second behind Pingley in Open A rounded out the top-10 overall.

Ryder LeBlond took the Youth Overall ahead of Tyler Silvia and Drew Callaway.

The KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series will resume with its fifth round on July 9-10 in Hickory, NC. Registration for the event is now open on Livelaps.com. 

Overall Results
1.     Josh Strang – HSQ – 58:06.321
2.     Russell Bobbitt – KTM- 59:06.379
3.     Layne Michael – HSQ – 59:14.502
4.     Jordan Ashburn – KTM – 59:27.251
5.     Cory Buttrick – KTM – 59:29:935
6.     Thad DuVall – HSQ – 59:38.518
7.     Vance Francis – 1:00:44.771
8.     Drew Higgins – 1:01:05.105
9.     Cody Pingley – 1:01:19.569
10.  Billy Schlag – 1:01:25.077

Pro Class Points Standings
1.     Thad DuVall – 166
2.     Daniel Milner – 165
3.     Josh Strang – 153
4.     Cory Buttrick – 120
5.     Russell Bobbitt – 117
6.     Layne Michael – 99
7.     Drew Higgins – 95
8.     Jordan Ashburn – 68
9.     Evan Smith – 65
10.  Josh Toth - 54

For complete results and points standings visit results.sprintenduro.com.