Webb and Brown round out the podium Round two of the 2016 Series headed outside for the first time on the regular schedule with a track built in the center of Brandon, South Dakota’s Badlands Motor Speedway and Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker rolled to a convincing main event win. Haaker didn’t lead from the start, however—that was Rockstar Husqvarna teammate Mike Brown—but he quickly found himself battling for the top spots and eventually checking out for the win. Defending Champion Cody Webb fought for a second place finish on his KTM with Brown coming in third on the night. Five-time EnduroCross Champion Taddy Blazusiak pulled off with a thumb injury after going down on the first obstacle in the main.
Before the main event Taddy Blazusiak started the night show off with serious momentum and earned the first heat win in dramatic fashion with a heated, last lap passing spree with Colton Haaker. Mike Brown won his heat race, as did eventual runner-up Webb, each gaining valuable championship points (one awarded per heat race win) for the series. These single points may seem small, but they proved critical in 2015’s point’s battle and this year looks to be just as close. Also, Webb won the evening Hot Laps—one lap sprint for another bonus point between the top six riders in championship points—giving him a two-point head start on the night.
In the main event, Brown shot out of the gate (positioned on the banked straight of the speedway), grabbing the $500 Nexen Tire Holeshot award. The multi-time AMA champion rode hard to stay up front but RPM KTM Team Maxxis’ Ty Tremaine latched on in second position with Factory FMF KTM’s Cody Webb in third. SRT-backed Cory Graffunder chased in fourth and Colton Haaker came out of the first few turns in fifth. Quickly, Webb made it around Tremaine and started to focus on gaining ground on Brown. In just a few laps the top battle turned into a Brown-Webb-Haaker mêlée with a nice dose of Tremaine thrown in to keep it interesting.
Webb got around Brown three laps in. By lap five, Haaker moved by Brown and was sitting in second. Just then Webb washed out the front end in a simple corner and Haaker moved easily into the lead. Webb would lose positions to Brown and Tremaine.
From there, Tremaine rode strong, holding off the charging Webb for laps. And this is where the real battles lived for the rest of the main. Webb, Tremaine and Brown paced each other and battled for the entirety of the second half of the race, each getting the upper hand when the others would make a mistake or fade from fatigue.
Meanwhile, Haaker was checking out up front—riding with aggression but keeping his efforts mistake free. By lap 10, he had a speedway-long lead over the field and seemed un-catchable.
In the final laps, Webb finally made his pass for second place stick over Tremaine and was on Brown. A last-lap pass got him into second with Brown finishing in third.
The win gives Haaker a four-point lead in the series after winning the first two rounds over Webb with Brown in third ten more points back.
“I didn’t get the best jump off the start but I stayed calm in fifth or sixth and tried to stay calm and not make dumb mistakes like I did in the heat race,” said Haaker. “A couple laps in I was in a good position in second when Cody went down. From there I felt solid, ran out a few laps that were fast and kept it together to cruise out for the win.”
Webb rode with speed all evening but when the Main Event came, the mistakes kept him from the win, “I was leading and it felt like I was making little mistakes while I tried to get in my rhythm but just washed out the front end and put myself into fourth, Webb said. “I don’t know how many times I tipped over in the woodpile but to come out with second is obviously good. Haaker was able to click off laps and get out there. I have the speed but I just need to put it together.”
Mike Brown grabbed the Holeshot and jumped on the podium for the first time in 2016. “The start was the main thing tonight to get in front of some guys and get through the rocks every lap. When you get the start it always gives you an extra boost,” said Brown. “I know I don’t have 15 fast laps in me as I haven’t been riding much so I’m happy with myself after the third week of riding in seven months.”
Ty Tremaine held on to finish fourth with another fast youngster busting into the top five—Noah Kepple. Canadian Trystan hart rode hard to sixth and Cory Graffunder held on for seventh. Nick Thompson, Max Gerston and Ty Cullins rounded out the top ten. Husqvarna’s Mike Brown rounded out the top five. Beta’s Kyle Redmond finished sixth. Ty Tremaine finished seventh on his RPM KTM. Geoff Aaron took eighth on his Gas Gas. Cory Graffunder was ninth on his SRT KTM and Noah Kepple rounded out the top ten on his KTM.
2016 Atlanta AMA EnduroCross Results Colton Haaker, Husqvarna Cody Webb, KTM Mike Brown, Husqvarna Ty Tremaine, KTM Noah Kepple, KTM Tyrstan Hart, Husqvarna Cory Graffunder, KTM Nick Thompson, KTM Max Gerston, Beta Ty Cullins Beta Morgan Tanke took the exciting Women’s Class win over Morgan Tanke and Rachel Gutish.
EnduroCross events also include three support classes. Spenser Wilton took the win in the amateur class over Giuliano Rolandi and Cody Miller. In the Vet class, David Stirm took the main event win over Dan Hayakawa and Wayne Dickert.
Photos: Ian Reid