In the second round of the AMA EnduroCross season, the FactoryONE Sherco team took a couple of podiums — and a few paylaps. Cody Webb was able to secure 2nd with a Moto 3-4-1. Louise Forsley also won 2nd place in the women’s professional event. Cooper Abbott fell victim to a pileup at the first turn in Moto 2, ending his bid for a podium after a strong Moto 1.
Click here to read more
Webb got the night off to a good start, setting a blistering pace in qualifying on the hot laps with a time of 56.653 seconds. He was the only rider to go under 57 seconds on a course much longer than the first round. He qualified fourth on the hot lap, which meant he had to wait impatiently as driver after driver tried to knock him off the hot seat, but unfortunately no one was able to do so, giving him first choice of the gate .
“I knew I had the pace – I just wanted to put the first round behind me and focus on a good qualifying lap to set myself up for success,” Webb said. “I had to qualify for the night show this morning so I got a bit more track time. It helped, but my SEF 300 Factory was dialed in thanks to Cody R [Richelderfer].”
Abbott qualified 5th, setting himself up to start Moto 1 in the single row.
Abbott stormed to the gate in Moto 1, narrowly missing the Moose Racing goal by the slimmest of points leader Teddy Blazusiak. The five-time champion, however, went down in the first turn, allowing Abbott to grab the lead. Right behind his rear wheel were the likes of Colton Hoaker, Webb and Ryder LeBlon. Cooper battled with this group of riders for several laps, eventually settling for fourth in the moto. Webb managed to pass his teammate around midway through the Moto, putting him in P3 where he finished the Moto. Both riders were setting up for a good night.
As is customary in EnduroCross, the gate order was reversed, with the bottom eight riders lining up on the front row. As the gates dropped and the riders left, Cory Graffander was out of shape, causing chaos in the first turn. He and Nick Thompson battled for place, which resulted in Graffander crashing in front of Thompson, which unfortunately caused him to veer straight into the path of Abbott, who was charging hard from the back row, almost sending him into the stands. Abbott was now P16 but by the end of lap 1 he had moved up to P13 and continued to move forward. Webb was stuck behind the riders from the front row, but made calculated passes. After one full lap, he reached the grid in P5. Johnnie Walker made his way into P1 with Webb, Blazusiak and Leblond fighting for the other Moto podium spots. Webb finished 4th, giving him seven points in the Olympic scoring system. He finished 3rd overall and Haaker advanced to the final Moto.
Fans of the EX Pro Moto night were sitting on the edge. Leblond hit a holeshot with Walker, Hoaker and Webb in tow. With Hoaker and Webb tied on the final podium, it all came down to the result between the pairs. Meanwhile, Abbott had to settle for a back row start due to misfortune in the second race.
LeBlon continued to lead midway through the first lap as Hoaker passed Walker in the rock garden. It wasn’t good news for Webb, who just went off the back wheel in P4, but his luck changed when Walker shoved the front end into Hoaker, sending him to the ground momentarily. This allowed Webb to pass Haaker. Now he has his sights set on Walker and LeBlond. Walker hit the matrix on lap 3 and allowed Webb to move into second, but Hoaker was hiding on the back wheel. As the riders approached the next corner, it was Haaker who returned the favor to Walker with an aggressive move. This caused the duo to lose all momentum as they reclaimed the rock garden. Now LeBlon and Webb were able to create a small gap from the pair behind. Webb pushed and pushed to try and get past LeBlond, but the running order remained the same until the last half-lap, when lapped riders played an important role.
As the lead pair entered the “cement corner” after the first rockery, lapper Blake Gutzeit got in the way of LeBlond, allowing Webb to move into the top spot, where he would complete the final half lap for the Moto win.
“Honestly, I feel bad for Ryder [LeBlond], as it would be his first EX Moto win, but that’s racing,” Webb said. “The race was intense, so I’m very happy with the result. The night started well with a hot lap win and I think I showed that I can run at the pace I need to win. I’m already looking forward to the third round in Denver.”
“The first turn of the Moto 2 hand-to-hand fight really killed my chances of having a great night,” Abbott exclaimed. “Moto 1 showed that I had the pace, but what can you do? That second finish in Moto I was on the second row in the last race, and that’s not where you want to be with the world-class talent we have racing in this series. I’m ready for Denver.”
In the Women’s EX Pro race, FactoryONE Sherco’s Louise Forsley finished 2nd, which was good enough to retain the overall championship lead. The Garden of Stones seemed to be the main focus of the battle for the top three women. Forsley and Rachael Gutisch battled for the first two laps before rocks destroyed Gutisch. The three remained in that order until the end of the race. Seventeen-year-old Hallie Marks of Insider Enduro Sherco finished 4th.