The opening round of the 2016 KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing kicked off in the sands of Gaston, SC at Moto-Vated Sports Complex with the largest rider turnout in series history. A 2.5-mile cross test and a 3.5-mile enduro test were laid out for the racers who would race each test 6 times throughout the two-day event.
A stacked pro field of 27 riders hit the tests first, with 2015 ISDE overall Champion Ryan Sipes being the first rider through the starting gates. Sipes, in his first race for the new Coastal Racing Husqvarna team would finish the first test, the cross test, in 5:05.119, only good enough for 8th-fastest on the test. It was FMF KTM’s Russell Bobbitt–second in last year’s overall championship, and the second rider to start the test–who would end up with the win with a 5:00.141 ahead of N-Fab AmPro Yamaha’s Daniel Milner and FAR/KR4 Husqvarna’s Thad DuVall.
The biggest surprise of the first test had to be the 4th-place finish of Jerry Robin, the motocrosser who became internet famous when he qualified for the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championship on a 1985 Honda CR250.
Australian Daniel Milner, second overall at the 2015 ISDE, would take the win in the 2nd test of the day, the enduro test, by 1-second over Factory Beta’s Jesse Groemm and 2-seconds ahead of Bobbitt, putting the two into a virtual tie after two of the day’s six special tests.
Rockstar Husqvarna’s Josh Strang who was 6th in test one, and 5th in test two, put down a heater in the 3rd test of the day to take the test win with a 4:53.030 just ahead of Robin, and Bobbitt.
The fourth test of the day, the 2nd time for the racers on the enduro test, would see Thad DuVall become the fourth test winner of the day and continued the trend of incredibly close racing as he bested Milner by four-tenths of a second.
Bobbitt would become the first repeat test winner of the day as he won the final attempt on the cross test ahead of Milner, Robin, and DuVall. Strang, who was 3rd-overall heading into the 5th test, would stall his bike a few turns into the test and have trouble with it restarting and ultimately drop 10-seconds to Bobbitt on the test.
Thad DuVall would take the final test win of the day, on the enduro test in 6:34.822, the fastest time of the day on that test, 4-seconds ahead of Strang, Robin, Milner and Bobbitt. That win would give DuVall the day one overall lead by just half a second ahead of Milner. Bobbitt was another two-seconds behind DuVall in 3rd and Strang another 10-seconds behind Bobbitt in 4th, Jesse Groemm ended the day in 5th.
Daniel Milner came out swinging on day two and took a huge win on the cross test with a 4:45.798 score ahead of Strang with a 4:49.543. Sipes, who struggled on day one, put in his best test of the weekend with 3rd-place. Day one leader, Duvall, would run into an issue with his air fork during the test and dropped 8-seconds to Milner in the test.
Milner kept the momentum going and extended his lead over DuVall with test wins in the 2nd and 3rd tests stretching his lead to 10-seconds ahead of DuVall after the halfway point of the day.
Fellow Aussie, Josh Strang, would finish 2nd in the first three tests of the day before stringing together test wins in the 4th and 5th tests and moving himself into 3rd-place overall for the weekend.
Daniel Milner secured the overall win for the weekend with his 4th test win of the day in the final test with DuVall finishing a close second. Lojak Yamaha’s Jason Thomas made his first appearance in the top-3 for a test with a very fast final attempt at the enduro test, Strang would finish the test in 4th.
The all-new Yamaha YZ450FX I rode was really good out there
– Daniel Milner
“My weekend went really good at the first round of the FGSE. It was an awesome track layout that made for tight and fun racing,” said overall winner, Milner. “The all-new Yamaha YZ450FX I rode was really good out there and helped me get across the finish in first. I can’t wait for the next round and am loving that this series is getting bigger and bigger.” added Milner.
“It was some close racing this weekend at the first round. I think this format can make for some close racing and I’m looking forward to a great year running the series,” said Rocky Mountain/KR4/FAR Husqvarna’s Thad DuVall who has committed to the entire series for 2016 and will certainly be a championship contender.
“It was a good weekend, a little cold but the tracks were both fun and sandy so it ended up being perfect to ride on. All the times stayed pretty close so after my small mistake on the first day it was good to come back and finish 3rd for the weekend,” said Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang.
The KENDA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing will return to racing in a unique Wednesday-Thursday race schedule on March 2nd and 3rd in Bunnell, FL, home of the Alligator Enduro as a warmup and kickoff to Daytona Bike Week.