GEICO EnduroCross Championship Series
Round 2: Energy Solutions Arena
Courtesy of GEICO
Photos by Brian Jefferies
SALT LAKE CITY, UT, MAR. 21, 2015
Mike Brown won his first GEICO EnduroCross event since 2013 by leading every lap inside the Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rockstar/ FMF/ Husqvarna Factory Racing pilot, and an AMA professional racer since 1988, showed he’s still the man when it comes to pulling great starts, sprinting to a lead and putting down consistent laps to take a win. Rockstar/ Lucas Oil/ Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker overcame some mayhem to apply pressure on the last lap but had to settle for second. Factory Beta’s Max Gerston rode a smart race to finish third.
Behind Brown off the start, second-turn carnage held off defending champion and race-one winner Cody Webb from applying pressure to the leader. Brown used the elbow room to his advantage and took the win.
Brown’s night went great from the beginning, with the veteran throwing down an insanely fast lap time during the evening hot-laps session while also “quadding” a step-on-step-off section of the track previously unattempted by EnduroCross’ best. He took the first gate pick and a bonus championship point (his second of both for the year) into the main event. From there, he grabbed the Nexen Tire $500 Holeshot Award (also for the second time in a row this year).
And that’s when the race got interesting.
Right after the finish tire jump, going into the second turn of the course, was where most of the drama of the evening would unfold. As Webb and Haaker charged for the inside line, they both refused to shut down and leave the second spot to the other; the result was that both of them went down and the rest of the class stacked up, around and on top of them. Haaker remounted quickly, still inside the top 10, while Webb suffered the worst of it, with multiple bikes and riders blocking his way. Webb got up and started his race nearly in last place. Somehow, Gerston made his way through the melee relatively unscathed.
Meanwhile, it was clean sailing up front for Brown. On a fast track, it was clear he’d be hard to catch, but Gerston kept him in check for the first half of the race, while Webb’s fellow FMF/ RPM /KTM Team Maxxis rider Ty Tremaine was in third.
Behind them, Haaker and Webb were on a mission.
By the halfway point, Haaker had charged past SRT Racing-backed rider Cory Graffunder and Tremaine to put the pressure on Gerston. Gerston looked strong, holding him off until nearly the 10th lap of the 15-lap main, but then Haaker made a smooth move on the rocks to get by.
Webb was flying, too. His pace was only impeded by the fastest line being occupied by a slower rider or lapped rider. He ended up going down once more but still, somehow, managed to power his way into fourth overall on the evening.
With only a few laps to go, it looked like Brown was going to cruise to victory, but Haaker had other plans and put down a two-lap charge to get right next to Brown on the final lap. In the end, Brown had enough gas in the tank to push a little harder (will he ever run out?) and take his first win of the year, and his first since 2013.
Haaker finished second, Gerston in third, Webb in fourth and Graffunder in fifth.
“The track was good for me tonight,” Brown said. “It was fast, but the rocks were tough and a lot of guys were going down there. I rode the track as hard as I could and didn’t make mistakes in the difficult sections. When I saw the other guys behind me go down after the start, I told myself I better go now. The start was the whole race. If I would have started third or fourth, I probably couldn’t have gotten here – these guys are going so fast. I got a little tight at the end and these guys caught up to me, but I can’t wait to work on a little bit of stuff for the next race.”
“I wanted to shut the door on that second corner,” Haaker recounted, “and Cody [Webb] didn’t want to let me inside, so we just collided right in the beginning. He was on the inside and I had a wheel on him, and he probably felt like he had it, and both of us felt like we didn’t want to shut down. I managed to get up faster and squirt out of there in the top 10 and put in some good, consistent laps. I finally caught up to Brown on the last lap, and I ran out of laps. Second is good. I didn’t want to give up any points tonight because I’m still not 100 percent.”
“I’m feeling like a million bucks!” Gerston said. “I feel like this is where I belong, and we’ve been working so, so hard for so, so long during the week, and my DA8 training has been getting me to another level. I just eat, sleep, breathe EnduroCross, and hopefully this is a start of a big thing. I have so much fun out here and am so fortunate. The track was fast and fun and flowed well tonight, with a gnarly rock section. I had a blast!”
In the Women’s class, Sandra Gomez from Spain took her first EnduroCross win of the season after missing Daytona – even after she went down on the first log after the start.
The Women’s main event was packed with action, as defending champion Lexi Pechout took the early leady. A hard-charging Shelby Turner followed, with round-one winner Morgan Tanke in third.
Slowly and surely, Gomez closed in on the front three – and with two laps to go, she had moved into second place.
Meanwhile, the lead was changing often, with Turner and Tanke swapping the top spot. When it came down to the last lap, it was Gomez and Tanke battling bar to bar, with Tanke going down hard and Gomez taking the win. Tanke was looked at by paramedics after the encounter.
All of the EnduroCross events also include support classes.
Dalton Dietz took the win in the Open Amateur class and made his first Pro main event. Kale Elworthy came in second, and Austin Schiermeister rounded out the top three.
Stephen Foord won the Vet class, ahead of Rich Black and Jason Gitchel.
Nathan Brown won the TrialsCross class, with Michael Salsman in second and Keith Adams in third.
The next round of the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series will take place at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday, May 1, kicking off a weekend of action in Vegas before the Supercross Finals on Saturday.
Energy Solutions Arena
Salt Lake City, Utah
Results: March 21, 2015 (Round 2)
OPEN AM: 1. Dalton Dietz; 2. Kale Elworthy; 3. Austin Schiermeister.
VET: 1. Stephen Foord; 2. Rich Black; 3. Jason Gitchel.
TRIALSCROSS: 1. Nathan Brown; 2. Michael Salsman; 3. Keith Adams.
WOMEN: 1. Sandra Gomez.
MEN PRO: 1. Mike Brown (Hsq); 2. Colton Haaker (Hsq); 3. Max Gerston (Bet); 4. Cody Webb (KTM); 5. Cory Graffunder (KTM); 6. Ty Tremaine (KTM); 7. Nick Thompson (KTM); 8. Kyle Redmond (Bet); 9. Kevin Rookstool (Suz); 10. Destry Abbott (Kaw); 11. Noah Kepple (KTM); 12. Dalton Dietz (KTM); 13. Wallace Palmer (Chr).
GEICO AMA EnduroCross 2015 Points Standings Top 5 (unofficial): 1. Cody Webb (45); 2. Colton Haaker (45); 3. Mike Brown (43); 4. Max Gerston (36); 5. (TIE) Kyle Redmond (34)/ Cory Graffunder (34).