Destry’s ISDE Race Report (Greece)

ISDE
September 1-6, 2008
Serres, Greece

I figured since I have about 24-hours of travel time that this would be the perfect opportunity to write my race recap from 6-Days. The days pretty much started to blend together, but I’ll still try and give you a short update for each day.

Day 1:
The first day was around 170-miles (like most of the first five days). It was really my first time getting to see how the bike was going to work, because our container with the bikes didn’t show up until two days before the event started. We had five tests on the first day, and then the rest of the days we had 6 (beside day 6 where we just had the final moto). My first test was going good until I tried to pass a slower rider on the MX test. I ended up going down because it was so slick (from them watering it). I kept it upright the rest of the day, but wasn’t real happy with the way I rode. The best part of the day was when we found out our trophy team was in third overall in the standings. This is something the US team hasn’t done in over 20 years. Kurt Caselli and Ricky Dietrich put in awesome rides that really helped us out. Nathan Woods had a mechanical problem, in one of the tests, which lost him a good 10 minutes. The good part was that they only count 5 of our 6 best riders, so Nathan’s score for the day was dropped.

Day 2:
I was looking forward to day two, since they rearranged the starting order to reflect each rider’s finishing position from the previous day. This put me up front with the faster guys (32nd out of 450 riders) and now I didn’t have to worry about getting by guys in the test. Most of the tests went really well, besides the last Enduro test where I took two soil samples. My time was really bad, but all my other tests were pretty good so I still moved up in the overall (around 28th and 13th in E2). Our team still rode awesome, and Kurt was still in the overall lead with Ricky not to far behind in 6th overall (I think). We knew we all did pretty well and were still in a solid 3rd overall and not that far behind France and Italy. Later, after the race, we found out they wanted to dock Kurt 5-minutes for breaking the ribbon (because he crashed) and not getting back on where he left the course. The rule says you get an automatic DQ if you ride backwards so he did what he thought was the safest thing to do. He was on the outside of the corner and still lost more time doing what he did (which was the right thing to do). They decided to only give him a one minute penalty, but this dropped him out of the top spot (now in 3rd overall).

Day 3:
This was the first day I started to ride like myself and was putting in some top 15 overall times in some of the tests. It also helped that we were on new trails and the tests weren’t as chewed up as the first two days. I had Nate Kanney and Jimmy Jarrett close to my minute, so it was fun being able to ride with two of my fellow US teammates during the trail sections. The day was a little longer and we were on our bikes close to 8-hours today, but at the same time they had some easy road sections too. After the first of two loops, I saw Kurt sitting at the factory KTM pit when I rode by (the main pit). I gave him the nod to see how things were going, and as soon as he looked at me I knew something was wrong. When I got to the Team USA pit I found out he had knocked himself out, in the Enduro test, and wasn’t going to be able to ride anymore. This was a huge loss for us since he’s our team captain and our score leader on the team. Now that Kurt was out we all had to step up and try to ride consistent. The Finland team wasn’t that far behind us and they have Juha Salminen (overall leader) on their team. After the days results we were still holding down third, but had lost time to Italy and France.

Day 4:
This was a typical race for me, because I felt like I kept getting better as the race was going on (I’ve always been a slow starter). We rode the same tests as day three, and you could tell the trails had started to get a little beat up again. You definitely had to stand on the bike a lot if you didn’t want to get beat up by the seat. For the most part, the day was going really well until the bike started to backfire and not want to run. This was really scary, but I was 90% sure what it was. The same thing happened to me at one of the H&H’s this year. Silty conditions had plugged up the pilot jet and the bike wasn’t getting any fuel down low, so you always had to keep the throttle on. I was riding down the big mountain, and it wasn’t fun having to hold the throttle open all the time. I rode a really good pace to make sure I had extra time at the main check below to fix it. Luckily I was able to change it during the time I had. After the first day, I kept consistently moving up in the standings and was feeling good. As for the team, Finland made up some time on us and was around 1 minute and 20-seconds back from us. We knew it would be tough to get in the top 2 now, but we really wanted to finish on the podium. Ricky D is the one that stepped it up the most and I believe we was in 4th overall on his KX250F. Nathan Woods was also putting in solid results for being so far back in the pack (because of his first day). The five of us rode solid again!

Day 5:
This was basically the last day we really had to spend 7+ hours on the bike, and it was also going to be new trails and tests again. Day 5 was by far the best I rode at this point. In one of the tests, I put in the 3rd fastest time (lost by 1 second) and had some other really good tests too. We had 6 tests again today, and after the 5th one I knew I was going to bump into the top 20 overall if I did the same thing in the last test. It was another Enduro test that was really sketchy, but the first time I went through it I posted a top 15 time. I felt good and pinned it, but there was one small mud hole I tried to jump and the bike just stuck to the other side. Of course, I went flying over the bars! I wasted a good 30 seconds there before I got going. Even with that test, I still moved up to 11th in E2 and I think I was in 24th overall. It was really good to get back to Parc Ferme and know I just had one moto test to do, which I was really looking forward to. When the team results came out we were now in 4th and 2 ½ seconds behind Finland for the podium spot. That night we had another Trophy Team meeting and talked about our strategy. We felt we still had a great shot at the podium since we could all moto really well. It’s pretty amazing after 5-Days of racing (counting 5 scores everyday) it comes down to less then 3 seconds for the podium.

Day 6:
This was the first day we got to sleep in since the Trophy rider’s motos went last. The MX track was really cool, but it was over 100 degrees and on the humid side. This place was packed and had the full Euro feel with air horns, flags waving, and screaming fans. We had Kit Kamo helping us out in the press room. She was keeping an eye on the times for the five of us and Finland’s five. The E3 class was the first to go off, for the Trophy riders, and we only had one guy left in that class (Nathan Kanney). He rode an awesome race and put in a great time even with a slide out. Now it was time for the E2 class where there were three of us (Nathan, Jimmy, and myself). They started us out where they hold the road races. We were on the road course and lined up on the starting grid. I was 11th in class and Jimmy and Woods were behind me. When the lights went off, we took off. This was the first time I’ve ever done a road race start like this. Going into the first corner, I was in 6th or so and made a couple quick passes to get into 4th on the first lap. I was feeling really good and knew this was going to be a great time. Juha was leading and I was just going to see if I could stay with him, or try not to lose a lot of time, but after the first lap they black flagged us. I think someone from Spain hit the ground and knocked themselves out. It was time to go line up on the grid again. We sat in the heat (100+ degrees) for a good 15-minutes before it was our time to race again. I had another great jump again, and was in fifth after the first corner (which was a really sketchy first corner). I saw Juha was right there, but when he hit the dirt I knew he went down. I couldn’t see his bike since it was so dusty. At the last second, there it was sideways and right where I was going. I tried my best to dodge it, but still hit it and went over the bars. I know I wasn’t the only one to hit his bike though. The first thing I thought of was at least Juha was down too, so that’s going to be good for the team. I got up around 30th and started to pin it. The first two laps I know I wasn’t making any friends and was riding aggressive. I could see Nathan and Jimmy were a ways in front of me, and I just kept thinking Juha is behind me and my goal was to keep him back there. I was passing guys every lap and then I got behind Nathan. We had a good pace going and just kept working through guys. When the checkered came out I finished 9th in the moto, less then a second behind Nathan with Jimmy putting in an awesome ride for 6th. When I got off the track, they told me Juha’s bike broke from the crash and it looked like we had third wrapped up as long as Ricky could finish his moto. I went and changed out of my gear real quick so I could watch Ricky go throw it down with Cervantes. Ricky got a second place start and followed Cervantes for basically the whole moto. They put a huge lead on third before they got the checkered flag. As soon as I saw Ricky get the checkered flag I knew we had secured 3rd overall.

Overall Summary:
I have to say it was for sure a successful 6-Days for me and the team. My goal was to get top 10 in the most competitive E2 class and I did that with a 9th (and 22nd overall). I also got my third Gold medal and an awesome third place team medal. We got the team on the podium and I know there weren’t a lot of people that thought we could do it (besides Rich Caselli, the six of us, and a lot of our USA supporters).

Results:
Team USA (Trophy Team) 3rd place
Destry Abbott Gold Medal, 9th E2, and 22nd overall

Other Notes:

It was great to get off the plane in New York and find out that Josh Morros had officially come out of his coma!! My wife had talked to Teresa and she said he was so much more responsive and was waking on demand and even giving his mom a thumbs up. I also saw a picture of him today. He was awake and had a small smile on his face. He’s definitely heading towards recovery and I couldn’t have asked for a better welcome home gift!

After the race we were trying to figure out the last time Team USA had gotten on the podium. I know it’s been over 20 years and that’s why this was such a huge step for us. There’s no doubt in my mind we have some of the best off-road riders here in the US! We basically proved that with Kurt and Ricky this year. What most people don’t know is this isn’t even the type of racing any of us do in the US. It would be like sending them to do a WORCS or a GNCC, where I know the US would come out on top. Rich put in a lot of work to make this happen this year, and I’m just so happy we could pull it off for him! Now we just need to make sure we keep this going and hopefully if we can get more help we can get the Trophy team on top of the podium. I’m not sure who’s going to be on the team next year, but I’m sure it will be a good one.

I really believe the way we chose the team this year is the best way to do it. We just need to find out what type of 6-days it’s going to be. If it’s going to be a lot of desert type of stuff we send more west coast guys, and if it’s going to be muddy and in the trees we send more East coast guys. We just need to make sure we keep sending our best riders to the ISDE. Once you get there you realize how huge it is and how important it is to all the other countries. The big thing is we need to get the support from the US people. All 6 of us spent a lot of money out of our own pocket to make this happen, and if we can get some sponsors to back us I know we could have been a lot more organized (and not feel like the amateur team at 6-Days).

I really believe Kurt would’ve won this years ISDE if not for some bad luck. There were a lot of people pulling for Kurt too! Ricky D really impressed a lot of people (including me). I know he has the speed, but he was on a bone stock KX250F and finished second overall on it. Guys like Juha, Cervantes, etc. were all on factory race bikes and he still was less then a minutes from the overall (Ricky finished 2nd overall). There’s no doubt Rich would’ve been happy to see the Trophy team together like this. The six of us all worked really well together and that’s what helped make this such a successful event. Nancy Caselli (Kurt’s mom) was our team manager and it was really cool to see her holding the team trophy. This is one of the things that will always rate high on my accomplishments.

I know I had so many people step up and help me out this year (my wife, kids, Monster Kawasaki, GPR, Thor, SIDI, etc.). This was the first time Jonny has ever been and he was such a huge help to me, even though he couldn’t ever touch the bike (which was really tough for himJ). My dad also came over and helped Nathan Woods and myself out. We also had Jason Smigel, from Monster Kawasaki, come and help out the whole Trophy Team with a lot of different things (and he was a huge help to us). It’s really hard to go over to Europe and beat these guys without all the support we had at the checks, tests, and so on. There were a lot of Americans that came to support us and I want to thank everyone for that! I know we couldn’t have done it without everyone’s support!

Before 6-Days even started we had a pretty good rivalry going with the Trophy riders. It was basically west coast (Ricky D., Nathan Woods, and myself) against east coast (Jimmy, Nathan Kanney and Kurt). We put Kurt on the East coast team since he’s racing on the East coast next year. Anyway, I could tell you some good stories about some of the things we did to each other (all in fun). I’m going to keep this clean, but I do have to give the East coast boys the nod. The west coast rental car is pretty hammered and they had us covered most of the time:)

Our US woman’s team put in a great ride and put themselves in 2nd overall. Maria Forsberg was on the gas and finished second overall female. She’s really an awesome person (along with our other women riders), but I was super happy to see her do so well for her first 6-Days. My hat’s off to all the women that finished 6-Days!

After talking to a lot of other riders, from different countries, I found out a lot of them were really happy to see us up on the podium. It was really great to hang out and ride with a lot of the riders I’ve followed in Europe. Most of them are really great guys and I know a lot of them follow the racing here in the states.


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Best Wishes,
Destry
www.destryabbott.com
2008 Sponsors: Kawasaki Racing, Thor, Dunlop, Pro Circuit, Stephen Gall Training, Scott Goggles, SIDI, HoyFox.com, Motion Pro, BRP, Braking, Works Connection, Shoei, CTI2, Red Baron, Maxima, Kicker, O’GIO, Acerbis, Steahly, Trick Fuel, RK/Excel, Renthal, Bent, Hinson, AP Designs, IMS, Jonre Multimedia, Cyto Sport, N-Style, GPR Stabilizers, Zip-Ty, UNI, Parkway Chiropractic, Tire-Balls, and ZLT.

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