Round 3 and 4 of the 2023 AMA Endurocross series kicked off for the first time in Idaho Falls this weekend. A double header with round 3 on Friday and round 4 on Saturday. Endurocross added the double header weekends to the schedule quite recently. My past experience of the double header setup has lent itself greatly to the racing action. Running the track one way, then running it backwards with minor changes allows the riders an almost added confidence in adapting to the features and characteristics in the arena's dirt. I also think it saves most riders money in terms of travel to an extra state and venue. The only piece I’m always a bit nervous about is the audience turn out. The past double headers haven’t had the most impressive crowds. I think for the average consumer Fridays don’t come to mind as being a race day. Although because of the previous two rounds we’ve had this season, and the audience turn out I’ve seen. I remain hopeful for the double header.
As the underclass riders rolled out for their first morning practices, I was immediately impressed by the rider turn out. Idaho of course, has a large Off-road market with companies like WPS being local to Boise. The amateur presence was exciting to say the least. Multiple group classes and qualifiers made for a longer than usual day program. Novice intermediate Vet and Women’s classes all full gates, some classes splitting into as many as three groups. The new market of Idaho Falls as far as riders participation goes.. was a success. Walking through the pits and chatting with the amateur presence really gets me excited about the sport of EnduroCross and the direction IRC is heading. So many amateurs running the JX8 Gekkota, VE33S, IX09W and even a few M5BEvos. I think we’ll see more and more riders testing their hand at EnduroCross due to the large growth of Hard Enduro we see here in the states. I believe riders are becoming more technical and more confident in their skills. Endurocross obstacles are now becoming less foreign and this killer for the sport!
This weekend's track was tight and technical. Really reminiscent of the Super Enduro tracks in Europe. Not being able to use the entire floor space in the arena due to the built in hockey barriers created a smaller than usual layout which to me seemed more traditional to EnduroCross. Something we haven’t seen in the previous rounds. In fact most pro riders via social media the week before expressed their frustrations pertaining to the course design. Most of these frustrations surround the first two rounds not having the famous Endurocross Matrix. This weekend the track builders seemed to take offense and build one of the gnarliest matrix sections we’ve seen in years. As the Expert riders go out for their qualifiers we see quite a few bottlenecks in this section. After testing different options to try and tame this matrix down. The crew decided to cut one log out which seemed to be a solid decision for the remainder of the weekend.
With some exciting battles from the day qualifiers and the track beginning to take shape the pros gear up for their first practice sessions. After the track changes it seemed the decider this weekend would be the long rock section with a unique corner after. The corner after the rocks had quite a few options, essentially being a spoke turn made out of logs. As the pros began to dial in the course a few of the top riders were able to exit the rocks with enough speed to double the logs to the inside, (this was a huge gap) then quickly make the 180 and double out. This was the fast line. Jonny walker, Trystan Hart, Cody Webb, Colton Haaker, Taddy Blazusiak, Ryder Leblond, were all able to pull this line consistently. Cody and Trystan Standing out to me as most confident going into hot laps. With a more reserved Jonny Walker present this weekend.
As opening ceremonies get underway I look around the stadium. To my surprise a nearly sold-out crowd packed in for the Friday round raised my hopes for the continued growth of Endurocross. With a packed crowd and packed classes from the morning.. Could Endurocross be back?
Expert riders line up at the gate for the first moto, top 6 qualify. This one is always hectic. Anthony Johnson Jumps out to the early lead Tim Apolle follows, then Spenser Wilton, and Dominik Olszowy behind. These riders have really stapled themselves as the consistent qualifiers this year. As the race continues Anthony Johnson makes a mistake, drops back, then fights forward finishing 4th. Josh Roper the gas gas trials rider takes advantage of the chaos and slips into third position. As Danny lewis secures the final position to the main in 6th. Anything can happen in these races. As the experts rest for the pro mains the top ten pros line up for Hot laps.
These riders handle the pressure of being on the course alone. All eyes on them as they battle the stop watch for gate pick. Each rider seemingly faster than the next, Colton Haaker showing his speed finishing 3rd fastest, Cody Webb looking clean on the technical track finishing 2nd, and Jonny Walker picking up where he left off last week with the fastest time. But this time the top 6 riders all within 1 second. The racing will be close tonight.
The pros line up for Moto 1 in their respective positions from hot laps. It’s anyone's game. By this time of the season everyone looks fast, and is starting to find their stride. The Gates drop and off the bat a confident, well rested Trystan Hart leads. Walker Not getting the best start but quickly moving up to 4th. Taddy Blasuziak holding onto 2nd Cody Webb behind him. Jonny and Cody get around Taddy and battle for the 2nd position on the podium. Trystan holding the lead. Behind him Endurocross chaos. Jonny gets around Cody for 2nd. Then Colton Haaker and Ryder Labeled the Husqvarna Team mates move in on Cody Webb. All gunning for third position, each rider swapping their positions. Trystan Hart the rider to break Jonny's win streak. A solid ride for Jonny in Second. Ryder, and Colton were able to hold off Cody Webb in 5.
We see a reverse Gate and Tim Apolle Getting the holeshot he has wanted. Holding Colton Haaker for multiple laps. Tim had an impressive ride. As Colton dives to the inside to take over the lead he knifes the front end and Jonny takes advantage. Colton still gets up fast and regains 2nd. Cody Webb takes over 3rd. Trystan quickly moved up to 4th looking invigorated after his first moto win of the season. As the riders settle into their position Jonny looking like he’ll run away with it. The EnduroCross chaos strikes again. Jonny getting caught up with a lapper goes down in The Matrix. Colton takes over. Trystan and Cody Get around Jonny and their finishing order. Trystan in perfect position for the overall.
Cody Webb out to the early lead,. followed by Trystan and Colton. Trystan with all the confidence quickly takes over the lead. Colton close behind Webb, Walker in 4th. As Colton and Cody battle for 2nd, Colton slips in the same corner he made a mistake in the first moto. Jonny gets around him for 3rd then tries to make the move on Cody for 2nd. This close battle moved its way right behind Trysan in the lead and we nearly saw a three way battle for the final moto win but all riders held their positions. Trystan takes the overall going 1-2-1. Jonny a consistent night fishing 2nd with moto scores, 2-4-3. Cody Webb pulled off 3rd on the night with 5-3-2 scores tying Colton Haaker with 4-1-5 moto scores but Cody taking the overall with the better final moto.
Another amazing night of racing from EnduroCross. The best part is we get to do it all again Saturday night.
The continued double header of EnduroCross, rounds 3 and 4 here in Idaho Falls started early Saturday Morning. With Temperatures dropping much lower than Friday's round three we saw an even higher Amateur rider turn out at round 4. A 40-rider novice class solidifies Idaho Falls as the best rider turnout in years. As these young riders brave the 32-degree temperatures in the morning, a reversed track from Friday's event is featured. Amazingly the track workers were able to create a completely different course that seemed to have more speed and flow compared to last night's technical track. Again, from my eyes, the decider of the course would be the unchanged long rock section.
The amateur class's tire of choice was the JX8 Gekkota. Asking riders why they chose the JX8, most say the incredible grip in the rocks yet moto tire feel in the corners. Other riders opting for the VE33’s say this is the tire they use for trail rides locally. I met two riders running the M5BEvo. I mentioned there weren't too many hill climbs on this year's track. They both seemed impressed by the tire's performance on their local rides and were stoked to try EnduroCross for the first time. A lot of first-time amateurs mean’s this sport is growing. Talking with Endurocross Promoter Todd Hammock, he showed me a near sold-out stadium for Saturday night's show. Making Idaho Falls a staple in the series and an almost guaranteed double header in 2024.
Expert riders taking the course: I was curious how quickly these riders would tackle the step up in the middle of the course. A tire landing directly into the Matrix section made for a few nerves in the expert class. First group out we saw riders tentative to hit this step up. Super EnduroCross Jr Champion Rider Dominik Olszowy on the Reiju was the first to pull off the step-up. Norbert Zsigovits, another super EnduroCross rider, was next, followed by Cody Miller and Tim Apolle. Once these riders pulled it off all experts seemed to warm up to the sketchy jump.
As qualifiers roll by, Pros come out for their day of Practice. A now confident Trystan Hart looking ready for another night of battles during the day. Again, the race looking like the rocks will be the separator. This time a 180-degree spoke turn made for options. Cody, Colton, Jonny, and Trystan all first to double in and double out. Talking with Colton Haaker after he mentioned to me the fast line will be the inside. That’s what he’ll do in his hot lap. After day qualifiers are over the track is closed, and the Pit Party commences. Fans walking the pits meeting the top riders. Something only Endurocross offers. An up-close experience with the best in the world. All the riders in the paddock are approachable and will converse with anyone. This is why I love Endurocross. With the night show underway. The crowd was even bigger than Friday. A great turnout. Opening ceremonies, rider intros, and the national anthem all lead up to the first moto. The expert main. 6 rider’s transfer. The Gate drops Dominik Olszowy shows his expert skill with another win. Brandon Petrie and Tim Apolle Round out the podium.
Pro riders Line up for their Hotlap, Anthony Johnson starts it off. The Young rider showed great skill this year in Pro class! As usual each rider was faster than the next Colton using the inside line he mentioned to me in practice slotting himself in 4th. Trystan constant in 3rd. Cody was fast in 2nd and again Jonny was ready for battle in 1st. They line up for Moto 1.
Off the start Trystan Hart jumped out to the early lead. Colton and Cody Behind him. Right as the riders settle in chaos in the matrix. A rider is down hard. It’s Branden Petrie. He came up short on the aforementioned step up and landed in the matrix. Riders are jumping over him and his bike, everyone holds their breath. The race is red flagged. Branden able to get up under his own strength, his night is over but hopefully not his season. The riders take the line again. Gate drop, Trysan again out to the early lead. Colton 2nd Cody 3rd Jonny 4th. Colton and Jonny get caught up in a pileup. Max Gerston the Cowboy takes over 3rd! Cody closes in on Trystan and tries for the pass but is never quite close enough. Trystan consistent and smooth finishes in 1st. Cody 2nd, Max Gerston a season best 3rd!
Lines up, reverse grid. Aussie Boy, Will Riordan out to an early lead. Colton somehow sneaks from a back row start into second. Jonny piles up momentarily in the first corner. Colton quickly takes over the lead and pushes hard to get away. Later in the lap Trystan and Cody took over 2nd and 3rd. After the first turn hold up, Jonny made his way to 4th getting around Riordan. Trystan closes on Haaker but it’s not enough Colton Gets the moto win.
Lines up. It’s anyone's game. Trsyan needs a 2nd or better for the overall. Cody Colton needed a win and Trystan to finish 3rd for their overall. All possible scenarios. Gate drops on Moto 3. Cody Webb Out to the lead Colton and Trystan behind him. Trystan makes the move on Colton into second. It’s looking like Trystan's night the way they run now. Colton and Trystan Battle for second. The rocks being the biggest factor.. Colton's trying different lines finally pays off, he gets around Trystan. This puts Cody into the overall win position. Meanwhile, Jonny is up to 4th. Trystan, not giving up, stays close. 2nd to last lap Trystan slides to the inside of Colton before the rocks. An aggressive pass puts Colton on the ground and Trystan takes over 2nd position as the white flag waves. Jonny gets around Colton. Cody Webb did everything he could, for the overall victory but the "Robot" Trystan Hart knew 2nd would put him atop the podium. Cody Webb moto three victory and 2nd Overall. Colton Haaker 4th place in moto three for 3rd overall. Jonny 4th in moto 3 and 4th on the night. Trystan wins night 2 and closes the points on Jonny moving up to 2nd with 11 points behind in the championship. Cody tied in points with Trystan in 3rd (11 behind. Colton, 21 points behind Jonny for the overall)
It’s anyone's game. This season is NOT over!
See ya in Oregon.