2019 INTERNATIONAL SIX DAY ENDURO – PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL: THE OFF-ROAD REPORT
The 2019 ISDE – Portimao, Portugal
It’s that time of the year again, where countries from around the world send their top racers into battle against one another in hopes of being crowned the International Six Days Enduro champion. This year, the race will be held November 11-16th in Portimao, Portugal at the Algarve Motorsports Park, which was built back in 2008.
Over the past few years, the American trophy teams have all accumulated great results, including the American junior trophy team winning their respective division in 2014, Ryan Sipes becoming the first American to win the ISDE in 2015, the first American trophy team victory the following year in 2016, and many other respectable accomplishments. With success in mind, USA team manager Antti Kallonen has hand selected the best of the best to populate the three trophy teams for the 2019 edition of the International Six Days Enduro.
The four riders aboard the 2019 United States ISDE trophy team are Taylor Robert, Ryan Sipes, Kailub Russell and Steward Baylor. Taylor will be piloting a KTM 450 XC-F, while Sipes will be on a 250 XC-F, Russell on a 350 XC-F and Baylor on a 500 EXC/XC-F hybrid. Each of these riders have national titles and successful ISDE experience behind them, so there’s no doubt they can do well again in Portugal this year.
In the junior trophy division, Antti opted to go with the same junior team as he picked for the race last year, as well. Trail Jester’s KTM rider (recently announced FMF/KTM factory racing rider starting in 2020) Ben Kelley, who is coming off of a near perfect season in the GNCC series, where he swept the first ten rounds in the XC2 class, moved up to XC1 at round 11 only to face some issues, but turned it around and won the overall at both rounds 12 and 13. He will be on a KTM 450 XC-F. After a year to forget with an injury and some misfortune at some races, FMF/KTM’s Josh Toth is back on the junior trophy team for 2019 aboard a KTM 250 XC-F. Last but not least is Grant Baylor (younger brother to Steward Baylor) who has had a very successful year of racing the last ten months, battling for GNCC overall podiums and fighting his brother for the 2019 national enduro title as well (which comes down to the final round this Sunday, but you can scroll down to read more about that). Baylor will also be on a KTM 450 XC-F.
Over the last few years, the American women’s trophy team has gotten progressively better with each go at the ISDE, scoring second overall in the past few races. Brandy Richards has attended the past couple of ISDEs, just falling short of the women trophy individual overall every time, as well as the team overall. Along with Richards is fellow KTM rider Beccas Sheets, and the both of them will be aboard KTM 250 XC-Fs. The third member of the Women trophy squad is the only non-KTM rider of the ten trophy riders, which is JCR Honda’s Tarah Geiger. The spot was originally filled by Jordan Jarvis, who is an accomplished motocross racer that attempted qualifying for a few national motocrosses this summer, but a broken collarbone has forced her to withdraw from participating in her first ISDE. Geiger, on the other hand, will be going into her second year in a row of attending the International Six Days event.
Along with the three trophy teams heading over for the 2019 ISDE, a slew of qualified Americans will also be going over to fight for the Club team championships, in an overall capacity and in three different bike displacement classes (C1, C2 and C3). After taking the best scores from a three round East and a three round West ISDE qualifier series, here are the American club rider attending the ISDE in Portugal:
Thorn Devlin (out due to injury
Tanner Whipple (replacing Thorn Devlin)
The National Enduro championship has come down to this, the tenth and final round of the 2019 series. At the last round, the Baylor brothers (Steward and Grant) came into the race with the possibility of Steward wrapping up the championship as long as he stayed in front of his little brother, but things went in Grant’s favor, sending the battle down to Louisiana this weekend. The two are currently separated by 26 points, so it is still possible for Grant to steal the championship away from his brother, but those odds are much more unlikely.
The 2019 National Grand Prix Championship series is one of the only national championships that runs from January through December, with just round seven coming up this weekend out in Gorman, California. Reigning champion and JCR Honda rider Trevor Stewart still has command over the points lead with two rounds remaining, with a healthy 18-point lead over Justin Seeds back in second. Precision Concepts/Kawasaki rider Zach Bell isn’t too far back from there, either, as he is only 20 points out of the lead. Although the past champion remains undefeated at the rounds he has attended so far this year, Bell has missed too many rounds while focusing on the WORCS series to be in control of the NGPC lead thus far.The Pro II (250 Pro) class is in the same situation, with 3Brothers/Husqvarna Racing’s Ciaran Naran out front with a 17-point lead ahead of Purvine’s Racing’s Tyler Lynn. The two have dominated over the rest of the class all year long, swapping wins and positions inside the top five at every round. JCR Honda’s Preston Campbell has had an eventful year, showing great results at every race he has attended throughout the year (finishing third in the National Hare Hound Pro 250 class for the year), but a DNF at round four and a 69-point difference between him and Naran makes it impossible for him to make up the difference now.JCR Honda’s Tarah Geiger just recently wrapped up the Women Pro class at the last round in Ridgecrest, California, but the battle for second in the championship still wages on between Kaitlyn Jacobs and Mica Diaz. Although both have missed multiple rounds throughout the year so far, hey both still only sit eight points apart going into rounds seven and eight of the 2019 season.
Over on the other side of the world, the World Enduro Super Series (WESS) is coming to and end with their final round in Germany via the GetzenRodeo, a long-running hard enduro accumulating around 10,000 spectators every year. The WESS series, itself, is compiled of a variety of different styles of races, from beach races to hard enduros, in order to crown the world’s top enduro rider when all is said and done. Last year, Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna’s Billy Bolt took home the title, but unfortunately sustained an injury shortly after, while preparing for the SuperEnduro series. Since then, he has faced other complications and wasn’t able to defend his title this year, leaving the door open for the second WESS champion ever to rise to the occasion. Current points leader Manuel Lettenbichler came close to the championship last year, but was ousted by Bolt at the final beach race. This year, though, the stars have aligned, as he comes into the final race of the year on home turf, with his preferred enduro discipline and an almost 900-point lead over second place (race win = 1000 points), so all if looking good for the German rider as long as he can keep himself going until he crosses the finish line. KTM stablemate Jonny Walker sits behind in second with another fellow KTM rider Josep Garcia (more of a classic enduro specialist) in third.
That’s all for this week, but be sure to check back next week for more updates on the 2019 International Six Days Enduro, as I’ll be heading over there to cover everything from walking tests to tire changes and the final motos.