Round 7 of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series heads to Cross Fork, PA this weekend after Round 6 saw another new winner, Andrew DeLong. This weekend could prove a huge turning point in the series as a few riders have the opportunity to make a new mark or solidify their progress in the series.
The current points leader, Nick Fahringer, heads into Cross Fork, PA leading the championship hunt. The technical terrain should suit Fahringer’s riding style. He won the event back in 2011. A win will be in his favor if he can come out of the gate charging in the first few sections. Factory Husqvarna’s Andrew Delong (PA native) will be racing in his backyard this weekend as he grew up in the ECEA Series which the hosting club belongs to. DeLong has momentum in his favor and proved he could run the fast pace in Michigan. Traditionally, DeLong hasn’t placed that well at the Rattlesnake National Enduro the past few years but we expect that to change.
Factory FMF/KTM’s Steward Baylor Jr. won this event in 2012 during his Championship hunt and will certainly be at the front of the pack after winning the final gnarly test in Michigan (Riders speak of that sixth test as being a true representative of the old-style enduro sections). KTM support rider, Grant Baylor, will also be a strong contender this weekend and has traditionally done well in PA.
A key aspect of this event could be weather; they are calling for thunderstorms and rain for both Saturday and Sunday. Last year, the later rows received tackier trails after heavy rain which helped solidify Russell Bobbitt’s win. Could Mike Lafferty, Shane Hufford or Jesse Groemm benefit from their late row position?
Unfortunately, 27A will be inactive Sunday because Beta USA’s Cory Buttrick is injured. Buttrick sustained a broken sternum, ribs, and two collapsed lungs during a local race a few weeks ago. Buttrick will most likely return after the Colorado round and also has just been selected to travel to Argentina for Beta USA’s Six Days club team.
Maxxis/KLIM/DirtWise KTM rider, Jesse Groemm, seems to have grabbed another gear recently in the rocks. We look for Groemm to place near the top this weekend if he can be consistent in all six sections. Groemm’s speed has been there, but consistency and minimizing mistakes will land him on the podium where he was at the first round. Mike Lafferty traditionally has done well in PA as well. We’ll have to see if he races the 350 or 450 come saturday (tune in for our Pit Pictures), but he has always finished strong here; although this marks the first time at the race on linkage.
We can’t forget AmPro Yamaha’s Brad Bakken who won the Virginia round of the National Enduro Series but came up short in Michigan after some suspension settings being off. Can Bakken be the first rider to grab two wins this year (other than Mullins)? We may also see some of these Kenda support riders like Bakken racing with some different tread this weekend. Kenda has released some prototype trials tires.
Two wildcards remain for this weekend and they include Broc Hepler and Craig DeLong. A former Pro Motocross and Supercross racer, Broc Hepler, will race Cross Fork aboard a YZ 250 and has recently strung together strong wins in local series. With the help of riding on Mike Lafferty’s row, Hepler could easily propel himself inside the top ten come Sunday. Little DeLong continues to step outside of his brother’s shadow and certainly has turned heads by leading the AA-Expert class. DeLong recently competed in PA’s VFTR hare scramble where he finished only 2 minutes off of Mike Lafferty and Jesse Groemm after two hours.
Finally, for those that haven’t been to the event previously, you can expect a sweeping grass track in the first test along with a little bit of woods. Tests two through six will include a mix of ferny woods, flat rock, and lots of singletrack. Apparently a few of the tests will utilize old trail from a few years back which could mix up the terrain on the weekend.
We look forward to seeing everyone there! Tune in this weekend for some pit pictures from the event.
Our Top Ten Prediction:
1) Nick Fahringer
2) Andrew DeLong
3) Jesse Groemm
4) Stu Baylor
5) Brad Bakken
6) Mike Lafferty
7) Grant Baylor
8) Broc Hepler
9) Craig DeLong
10) Ryder Lafferty