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U.S. teams off to strong start at 2019 ISDE

All three American Trophy teams finish first day in second place

Story and photos by Mark Kariya

The U.S. ISDE team is off to a strong start in all competition classes at the 94th edition of the FIM International Six Days Enduro.

The off-road racing action got underway this morning at the grueling, week-long motorcycle competition, which takes place this year in Portimao, Portugal.

Cool, misty weather proved nearly ideal for the field of more than 500 riders from 26 countries who competed in seven special tests. The day’s course consisted of a loop that competitors rode twice, a total length of 173 miles.

In the FIM World Trophy division, the American quartet of Steward Baylor, Taylor Robert, Kailub Russell and Ryan Sipes ended Monday in second place, 19.53 seconds behind defending champion Australia. Italy is third, 2:03.59 seconds behind the Aussies. Daniel Sanders put in a stellar performance for the Australian team and is the overall individual leader by 34.03 seconds over Josep Garcia of Spain.

American rider Sipes is 38.17 seconds in arrears of Garcia while teammates Robert and Russell are fourth and fifth fastest at gaps of 0.32 and 5.15 seconds.

“It got way rougher than I expected,” Sipes said. “The first time through all the tests, I had really good times, even with a crash in the third test. The tests were the same as when we walked [them] so all my lines still worked. The second time through, none of my lines worked because the sand test is super whooped out. I couldn’t take my lines anymore. The rocky test on the side of the hill is big powder berms. I’ve got to get better at just riding that main line and staying in the berm. I was still trying to halfway use my lines and, I think, losing time because I wasn’t just railing the main line. But it was good. I had the one tip over—I think Kailub crashed a couple times—but we had a pretty uneventful day and I think that’s good.”

The situation is similar for the U.S. Junior World Trophy Team of Grant Baylor, Ben Kelley and Josh Toth, who trail Australia by 1:14.10. France sits in third place, 2:04.48 behind the Aussies. Two of the Australian Junior Trophy riders are in the top 10 overall, while Kelley at 14th is the only American Junior Trophy rider in the top 25.
“Grant and Ben are killing it [on their 450s],” Toth said. “I’m kind of struggling today. I haven’t been riding [the 250] that much [this year]. They were really strict on the sound test, so we have a huge spark arrestor. It’s all plugged up and really took away a bunch of power. I’m kind of struggling with that and adjusting the suspension, too.”

Germany is the surprise leader in Women’s World Trophy division, and the U.S. ISDE Women’s World Trophy team is just 5.45 seconds behind them. Reigning class champion Australia is in third, 1:02.66 behind Germany.

American Brandy Richards ended day one as the fastest rider in class by a margin of 15.01 seconds over Germany’s Maria Franke. Australia’s Tayla Jones is 1:19.78 behind Franke. Another American rider, Becca Sheets, sits eighth fastest in class, with the last of the American trio, Tarah Gieger, in 13th.

“I think our position is good,” U.S. ISDE Team Manager Antti Kallonen said. “It could be a little bit better, but we started kind of steady and we’re in good position still, not too far from the leads in all categories. It’s Day 1. We’ve been in this position before, we’ve been leading before [at this point] and really the outcome on day six has always been different. So, I think just to get a solid start with all three [Trophy] teams is important.”

The seven U.S. Club teams also are in good spirits, with the XC Gear trio of Dante Oliveira, Ricky Russell and Austin Walton the fastest in class by 2:03.67 over a French team. AMA District 37’s Jacob Argubright, Nate Ferderer and Blayne Thompson ended the day third overall, 3:42.48 behind the XC Gear team.

The Gas Gas USA team of J.T. Baker, Tyler Vore and Trent Whisenant sits in 11th place. The Mojo Motorsports (Anson Maloney, Josh Knight and Tanner Whipple) is in 14th. The Eric Cleveland Memorial (Kevin DeJongh, Nic Garvin and Austin Serpa) sits in 16th. The Missouri Mudders (James King, Anthony Krivi and Nathan Rector) placed 23rd, and the all-senior Elizabeth Scott Community team (Jayson Densley, Paul Krause and Brian Storrie) ranks 39th of the 124 Club teams competing at the event.