GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship Series
Round 9: Citizens Business Bank Arena
Courtesy of GEICO
Photos by Drew Ruiz
ONTARIO, CA, NOV. 22, 2014
Cody Webb finally dethroned Taddy Blazusiak to take his first GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship. The Factory Beta/ Stillwell Performance-backed Webb only needed to finish 10th or better in the main event to take the title, but he made the math easy by finishing second, behind Factory Red Bull KTM’s Blazusiak. Rockstar/ Lucas Oil/ JCR Honda’s Colton Haaker finished third in Ontario and third in the 2014 championship.
With the championship battle so tight, the extra points awarded for the heat races and the evening’s fastest hot lap became extremely important. FMF KTM’s Taylor Robert took the first Pro heat-race win, over Haaker, to steal one of those points. Then GEICO-backed Webb and Blazusiak won their respective heat races to take one more point each.
Robert set the fastest time during the evening’s hot laps to get first gate pick and take the bonus point away from the top three riders who were battling for the title. This gave Webb a little more cushion going into the main.
Haaker took the $500 Nexen Tire Holeshot Award to get the main event started, but he got sideways in the first wood-pile section, which allowed Blazusiak to take the lead. Webb made a few quick passes to end the first lap in third, and he seemed content to ride a consistent race. Blazusiak held a three- to five-second lead for most of the 15-lap main event and at the finish line, but Haaker actually closed to his wheel twice when Blazusiak got stuck – but Haaker quickly experienced his own problems.
On lap 13, Haaker made a costly mistake that allowed Webb to pass him for second, but Webb quickly opened the door to stay clear of trouble. Then Haaker got stuck in the rocks, which allowed Webb to take second for good. Haaker had a few more mistakes but held on to comfortably take the final podium spot.
Blazusiak had a scare when he hit a downed rider and crashed within sight of the finish line, but he managed to get going just ahead of Webb, who then celebrated taking his first title.
Robert, who thrilled the crowed all night by completely jumping over the water hole, worked his way back to fourth in the main, despite a first-lap crash.
Red Bull’s Geoff Aaron took fifth with a very consistent ride on the difficult track.
RPM KTM’s Bobby Prochnau finished sixth. Husqvarna’s Mike Brown was seventh, followed by Beta/ Stillwell Performance’s Max Gerston in eighth and KTM rider Cory Graffunder in ninth. Ty Tremaine rounded out the top 10 on his RPM KTM.
“Consistency wins championships,” Webb noted, “and I found that out this season by ending with a second place tonight and never finishing off the podium. The team was incredible this year. We put a lot of hard work in this year, and it showed. I think mentally I knew I was ready to be up here, and I think Colton and I pressured Taddy enough to make big moves. Last year, I came on strong after breaking my foot but didn’t have the whole season. This year, I came in fresh and strong and kept putting the hard work in and managed my time with going to school – training hard when I needed to and resting when that was right. I realized in Atlanta this year that I could win the championship and knew that consistency would be the right way to do it.”
“I got the holeshot,” Haaker recounted, “and Taddy got around me right after the first straightaway in the firewood pile. I tried to pace it, but the track was so tight and small that it was really hard to make up time. We hit lappers so quickly – they really separated the race; I would catch Taddy because of lappers and then I’d hit the same lappers and drop back. It seemed like that for the whole race. Then I lost grip. I lost grip on my right hand from water soaking it, and then I hurt my left hand worse [from a previous injury]. Late in the race, I really couldn’t hold on. Cody and Taddy rode well, and we were all up front the whole season. I know what to keep plugging on to build for next year.”
“Finishing up here in Ontario on top means a lot to me,” Blazusiak said. “I had some bad luck right away and went down in the first corner, and that makes it complicated when we’re racing at this high level. But I got going quickly, and I feel like winning the last round proved some people wrong – you win for five years and then you don’t win two, and suddenly they think something is wrong. I’m happy to win and happy to win in style, as I’m pretty sure Colton was going all-out, as he’s fighting for championship points as well. I’m happy to put the last two rounds behind us, and now I’m thinking about the Super Enduro Series that starts in two weeks.”
The battle for the 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Women’s Championship included four riders who had a shot at the number-one plate entering the final round in Ontario, California. Lexi Pechout moved from third to first on the last lap to take the win, and with that victory she moved from fourth to first in the championship.
RPM KTM’s Chantelle Bykerk, the defending Women’s EnduroCross Champion, entered the finals with a five-point lead over Southern California’s Morgan Tanke. Indiana’s Rachel Gutish was only 11 points back, and Pechout was 12 points back.
Pechout rode most of the main event in third position on her Sherco, while Husqvarna’s Sandra Gomez and Shelby Turner exchanged the lead multiple times.
Then, on the last difficult section – the multiple-log section called the “Matrix” – Gomez and Turner both went down. Pechout passed both riders to take the win and then had to wait to see where the other three championship contenders finished.
Bykerk ended up finishing eighth and tied Pechout with 145 points. Pechout took the tie breaker by winning the final event. Tanke finished fifth in the race and third in the championship. Gutish finished fourth in the race and fourth in the championship.
“It was absolutely unbelievable, with carnage everywhere out there tonight,” Pechout said. “It was super slick and super technical, and I was just trying to stay as clean as I could through the technical sections. Sandra and Shelby messed up in the last corner and I just hit the Matrix on a diagonal and hoped for the best, and took it home! I knew everything was close together for the championship, and I am absolutely thrilled that I took it… I’m just so happy!. It was a fight out there for all of us.”
The MAVtv EnduroCross Junior Championship is a championship-within-a-championship for riders ages 21 and under. Eighteen-year-old Ty Tremaine clinched that title for 2014 on his RPM KTM and finished 10th in the final overall standings. Noah Kepple, another 18-year-old, finished second in the Junior Championship. Past EnduroCross Junior Champions include Colton Haaker, Taylor Robert and Max Gerston, who all finished in the top five for the 2014 series, so these are certainly riders to watch.
The EnduroCross Finals also features the AMA Grand Championship and number-one plates for the three support classes.
Cooper Abbott took the Open Amateur-class win to make his father, a multiple-time Hare & Hound Champion, proud. Austin Schiermeister took second, over Ty Cullins.
Canada’s Stephen Foord won the Vet Over 35 class, over Josh Buell and Jason Gitchel.
Ty Cullins won the TrialsCross class, over Harrison Oswald and Emanuel Angius.
For more information, please visit www.EnduroCross.com.
Citizens Business Bank Arena
Results: November 22, 2014 (Round 9 of 9)
EX: 1. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM); 2. Cody Webb (Bet); 3. Colton Haaker (Hon); 4. Taylor Robert (KTM); 5. Geoff Aaron (KTM); 6. Bobby Prochnau (KTM); 7. Mike Brown (Hsq); 8. Max Gerston (Bet); 9. Cory Graffunder (KTM); 10. Ty Tremaine (KTM); 11. Kevin Rookstool (KTM); 12. Giacomo Redondi (Bet); 13. Nick Thompson (KTM).
WOMEN: 1. Lexi Pechout (Shc); 2. Sandra Gomez (Hsq); 3. Shelby Turner (KTM); 4. Rachel Gutish (KTM); 5. Morgan Tanke (KTM); 6. Melissa Harten (GG); 7. Tarah Gieger (KTM); 8. Chantelle Bykerk (KTM); 9. Nicole Bradford (KTM); 10. Veronica Whitesell (Bet); 11. Megan Blackburn (Kaw).
OPEN AM: 1. Cooper Abbott; 2. Austin Schiermeister; 3. Ty Cullins.
VET 35+: 1. Stephen Foord; 2. Josh Buell; 3. Jason Gitchel.
TRIALSCROSS: 1. Ty Cullins; 2. Harrison Oswald; 3. Emanuel Angius.
2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship Final Points Standings
EX: 1. Cody Webb (214); 2. Taddy Blazusiak (202); 3. Colton Haaker (198); 4. Taylor Robert (176); 5. Max Gerston (122); 6. Mike Brown (119); 7. Cory Graffunder (113); 8. Bobby Prochnau (105); 9. Geoff Aaron (104); 10. Ty Tremaine (100).
WOMEN: 1. Lexi Pechout (145); 2. Chantelle Bykerk (145); 3. Morgan Tanke (143); 4. Rachel Gutish (139); 5. Melissa Harten (123); 6. Tarah Gieger (120); 7. Sandra Gomez Cantero (114); 8. Rily Ellinger (90); 9. Nicole Bradford (64); 10. Veronica Whitesell (61).
[Stay tuned for the 2015 EnduroCross schedule to be posted soon on Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]