After a disappointing finish at the opening round of the series one month ago, Andrew DeLong came out with guns blazing at round two of the 2015 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series – the Sandlapper National Enduro – in Pelion, South Carolina, this weekend, taking an impressive win over a stacked field of pros in a rain-soaked race, justifying the number one plate he claimed last year when he won the 2014 national title.
“I had a point to prove, because I didn’t like getting eighth at the first round of the series,” said the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing-backed DeLong. “This is where I want to be – on top of the podium – and I was able to make it happen.”
DeLong won four of the six tests over the 77-mile, tight and sandy course and beat out FMF/KTM’s Kailub Russell by one second shy of a full minute.
“Today was a good day,” said DeLong. “I actually made quite a few mistakes in the beginning, but in the end all my lines flowed pretty good and once I finally got going it was just one of those days when everything clicked.”
Russell just missed winning the fifth test by two seconds, but turned the second-fastest time in three different tests to earn second overall.
“I’m always bummed when I can’t win a race,” said Russell. “The track was slick and there are definitely a lot of things that could have happened but I managed to stay up and finish on the podium.”
Russell moved into the lead in the series standings with his runner-up finish, and now sits seven points ahead of DeLong in the standings.
Third place went to N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Grant Baylor, who was also making amends for a poor race at the opening round of the series. Baylor posted the fastest time in the third and fourth tests and was solid in the remaining tests.
“I just tried to keep it on two wheels and be consistent and I guess it paid off,” said Baylor.
Four-time national enduro champ Russell Bobbitt was consistent throughout the day, going third, second, fourth, fourth and third in five of the tests, but in the second test he suffered a mechanical problem and lost roughly 1 minute-and-30-seconds, finishing the test with a time that was 16th fastest.
“I felt really good today,” said Bobbitt. “We just had a mechanical issue on test two that cost me some time and I wasn’t able to fully rebound from that. I’m glad to remain consistent and still be able to salvage a top five result.”
Sixth was Josh Strang, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing-backed Aussie struggled with issues with his goggles and was not pleased with his finish. Meanwhile, Beta USA’s Cory Buttrick put his 300RR into seventh place after a solid ride in the rutted sandy loam.
Round one winner, Steward Baylor, made an amazing ride to finish eighth. The MotoTech/FLY Racing KTM rider had surgery on Thursday to repair a broken collarbone, which required a plate and 12 screws. Refusing painkillers after the surgery because he wanted to keep a clear mind, Baylor was in obvious pain during his courageous ride.
Baylor’s teammate, Trevor Bollinger, brought his KTM home in ninth, while JCR Honda’s Chris Bach rounded out the top 10.
In the Rekluse Expert-AA class, round one winner, KTM rider Zach Hayes, turned in another stellar rider to win the class and also finish 13th overall.
“I didn’t get arm-pump this time,” said Hayes. “And I think that helped me to build a lead in the long first section.”
Second went to DirtWise/Maxxis/KLIM’s Drew Higgins, while third was N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Ryan Belue.
Over 720 riders entered the Sandlapper enduro, second only to last month’s record 825 riders at the Sumter, South Carolina round.
The 2015 Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes on March 22nd in Gainesville, Texas, for round three of the series. For more information on the series go to http://www.nationalenduro.com.
1. Andrew DeLong (Hus)
2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
3. Grant Baylor (Yam)
4. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
5. Brad Bakken (Yam)
6. Josh Strang (Hus)
7. Cory Buttrick (Bet)
8. Steward Baylor (KTM)
9. Trevor Bollinger (KTM)
10. Chris Bach (Hon)