DELONG WINS DRAGON’S BACK NATIONAL ENDURO

CRAIG DELONG TAKES HIS FIRST NATIONAL ENDURO OVERALL WIN

Story and photos: Shan Moore
Craig DeLong: “I started off really well the first three tests. It was just really similar to how it is back home in Pennsylvania. Just kind of slick, red clay, a little rooty, which is the kind of conditions I like. So, I just kind of felt at home in the beginning of the day. I built up a good lead in the morning but in the afternoon, I was just a little bit off.”

 

Craig DeLong got off to a quick start in the first three tests and then maintained a steady and consistent pace in the final three to grab his maiden win in the Magna1 Motorsports AMA National Enduro Series presented by Moose Racing. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider won the first three tests, building a substantial lead over the competition before cruising to victory in Virginia.

Ricky Russell: “I started off kind of slow. It was slick and I was maybe a little bit overly cautious because I just wasn’t feeling the traction and was sliding all over the place in the roots. It was more just the roots. You couldn’t see them. But Craig just killed us so much on those first two tests.”

 

DeLong still managed to win the event by 25 seconds over AmPro Yamaha’s Ricky Russell, although he almost threw it all away in the final test. Russell, who is quickly adapting to national enduro competition, came out on top of a three-way battle for the runner-up slot ahead of Coastal Racing GasGas’ Ryder Lafferty, who finished third, and Enduro Engineering GasGas’ Josh Toth, who was fourth. Russell went 1-2-3 in the final three tests to top Lafferty by just three seconds.

Ryder Lafferty. “I felt like I fought hard for it all day. I had some sketchy moments and a couple little get-offs, but all in all, I feel like I rode the wheels off of it my 250.”

 

Fifth went to Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Grant Baylor, making for the first time the South Carolina rider has been off the podium all year. Meanwhile, Beta USA’s Evan Smith had his best ride of the season with a sixth overall. Bonecutter GasGas’ Thorn Devlin won the NE Pro 2 class with a seventh overall finish, topping second place in the NE Pro 2 class by almost two minutes.

Tely Energy Racing/Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM’s Steward Baylor is still fighting the Epstein Barr virus, but still managed a credible eighth overall.
“The day was rough,” said Steward. “I’m still not 100%, but I notice it here more than GNCC, which is weird. I think in national enduros you just have to be so sharp and when you’re not 100% here, you notice it a lot more just being a little bit slow to react. It was just one of those days where I just kind of knew that I didn’t want to go any faster. I felt like I was making mistakes any time I did. So, I just rode my race.”

Thorn Devlin: “The first section was a lot more slick than the rest of the day and I had a little bit of a get-off in section one, so I kind of had to get up and dial it back down a little bit and ride smooth and just keep it on two wheels.” Devlin won three of the six tests in the class.

 

FMF/KTM’s Ben Kelley is still building his speed after breaking his femur in February and finished ninth, while Beta USA’s Jonathan Johnson was second NE Pro 2 rider and rounded out the top-10 overall.

Enduro Engineering GasGas’ Mackenzie Tricker, who hopped a plane back to Australia right after the event, won the Women’s Elite division, winning two of five tests and topping Trail Jesters Racing KTM’s Korie Steede by 52 seconds.

 

OVERALL RESULTS
1. Craig DeLong (Hsq)
2. Ricky Russell (Yam)
3. Ryder Lafferty (GG)
4. Josh Toth (GG)
5. Grant Baylor (Kaw)
6. Evan Smith (Bet)
7. Thorn Devlin (GG)
8. Steward Baylor (KTM)
9. Ben Kelley (KTM)
10. Johnathan Johnson (Bet)

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