Highest points went to Rockstar Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker in the openig round of the AMA EnduroCross opener held in Las Vegas Nevada.
A large number of spectators witnessed thesaid race held at the Orleans Arena. Even with the new format races, Haaker is still able to finished as the victor. FMF KTM’S Cody Webb finished in second place with SRT Racing Trystan Hart in third place.
For 2017, therewere several format changes. A lot of riders trained hard during the off season in hoping to close the gap on Haaker and Webb. The two of them are considered to be the “dominant ones” in indoor off-road racing. Webb set the fastest hot lap time during the afternoon qualifiers. He was often looked faster than Haaker during the evening racing, but Haaker always found a way and ended up in first place during the races.
The new format indicates that, the top eight Super EnduroCross (pro class) riders are automatically in in the evening heat race but all the other riders had to earn their spot during the day time qualifier. The riders that were qualified in the daytime then faced off in the first race of the night with the top five joining the eight seated riders in a gate pick qualifying the race. Beta’s Ty Cullins and fellow Cooper Abbot on the Purvines, DA8 Yamaha topped GasGas backed Geoff Aaron, Yamaha mounted Eric Rhoten and Quinn Wentzel rode his Husqvarna to fifth to move forward for his first ever EnduroCross main event.
In this, all of the riders were put and this would also be the first time that Haaker and Webb would clash. As the two of them raced for the lead, a hard block pass was made by Haaker resulting to Webb being knocked to the ground. Haaker continued and eventually won, while Webb recovered for seconds. He was clearly unhappy about the contact that was made. Kyle Redmond finished third in the qualifier to serve notice that he is ready to compete for podiums in 2017.
For the new format, the top 12 riders were grouped into single laphead to head until the final two rides face off. Haaker and Webb, as expected,moved forward to the end. Haaker came out on top and earning a single bonus point for the evening.
In the main event, when the gate dropped, it was Webb who took the lead and Haaker made efforts to get into the second. They rode in unison until lap eight of fourteen. It was when Webb was the first to take the No Joke lane thus allowing Haaker to take the lead. He tried to open the gap but Webb closed back in and briefly took the lead from Haaker. Not long before, Haaker passed him back in the rock pile and when the two made contact resulting to Webb once again going down. The situation allowed Haaker to afely open a ten second gap but he still waited until the final lap to take the No Joke lane but safely took the win. Webb was in second place with twelve seconds back.
It was between SRT Offroad teammates, Hart and Redmond who battled for third place.at the start, Hart held the position before Redmond only to be re-passed for the final podium spot. They finished within one second of each other.
Beta’s Max Gerston took fifth ahead of RPM KTM’s Ty Tremaine in sixth. SRT’s Cory Graffunder was seventh and Cooper Abbot took the important eight place position that will put him directly into the night show at the next round. Joan Pau Segura made the long trip from Spain and finished ninth on his GasGas ahead of fellow GasGas rider Noah Kepple in tenth.
“They dropped the gate about four seconds earlier than I expected and I got caught way off guard. I came into the first turn not in first unlike I did in every other race tonight. My starts were on point for every race except the main. I moved into second quickly and started pacing Cody and he took the joker lane at about the midway point and I knew I needed to get a gap going. Unfortunately, I made a major mistake and, even though the track wasn’t as technical as some, Cody made a mistake, too. So, if two of the best riders in the world make mistakes it seems it was pretty hard, actually.
“I caught back up to Cody after my mistake and he left the door open a bit and somehow my foot went into his front wheel and he went down. I didn’t mean to put my foot in there, obviously. From there, all I could think about was hitting the joker lane. I did it on the last lap and got the win.”
“The main event wasn’t ideal but I’ve never been known to enjoy the faster tracks and this was probably the easiest track EnduroCross has ever had. I felt really great tonight and led for a bit. My plan was to have Colton lead with the pressure of taking the joker lane and I was just going to hunt him down and when we had to take the joker lane I would take advantage of it. But he got ahead of me when I made a mistake, then he crashed and I passed him momentarily and eventually he moved over on me and his foot peg or something got stuck in my wheel and I couldn’t hold the bike up.
“I went down, killed the motor, knocked my lever down too far and by that point it was too late in the race to recover. My confidence feels great. I wasn’t pumped on the track when I walked it and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.”
“For sure my good start was so key to the race for me. I had a good gate pick and the track wasn’t super hard but it was super-fast and you couldn’t make a mistake and that made for some really tight racing between Kyle (Redmond) and myself for the entire time. It was super tiring even though the track wasn’t too hard. You had to be on it the entire time that it was really intense.
“I worked hard for this and now that I’m up here it doesn’t feel real. Everybody always says that, but the last lap I thought, ‘This is it!’ Last year I was fourth in Boise and I felt like I threw third away a little. Now, it feels great to get it.”
2017 Las Vegas AMA EnduroCross main event results
- Colton Haaker, Husqvarna
- Cody Webb, KTM
- Trystan Hart, Husqvarna
- Kyle Redmond, Husqvarna
- Max Gerston, Beta
- Ty Tremaine, KTM
- Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna
- Cooper Abbott, Yamaha
- Joan Pau Segura, GasGas
- Noah Kepple, GasGas
- Eric Rhoten, Yamaha
- Geoff Aaron, GasGas
- Ty Cullins, Beta
- Quinn Wentzel, Husqvarna
- Spenser Wilton, Honda