Round 2 of the AMA EnduroCross season saw a pair of podiums — and some pileups — for team FactoryONE Sherco. Cody Webb was able to secure a P2 finish with Moto scores of 3-4-1. Louise Forsley also took home P2 honors in the women’s pro main. Cooper Abbott was the victim of a first-turn pileup in Moto 2, which ended his bid for a podium after a strong Moto 1.
Webb got the night started off right by setting a blistering pace in the hot lap qualifiers with a time of 56.653 seconds. He was the only rider to go sub 57 seconds on the much longer track than round one. He was fourth off the line in the hot lap qualifier, which meant he had anxiously wait as rider after rider tried to knock him out of the “hot seat,” but alas, no one was able to do it giving him the first gate pick.
“I knew I had the pace — I just wanted to put Round 1 behind me and focus on a good qualifying lap to set myself up for success,” said Webb. “I was forced to qualify into the night show this morning, so I got a bit more track time. That helped, but my SEF 300 Factory was dialed in thanks to Cody R [Richelderfer].”
Abbott would finish P5 in the qualifier, setting himself up for a row one start for Moto 1.
Abbott rocketed out to the gate in Moto 1, just missing the Moose Racing hole-shot by the slightest of margins behind points leader Taddy Blazusiak. The five-time champion went down in the first turn, however, allowing Abbott to take the early lead. Right off his rear wheel were the likes of Colton Haaker, Webb and Ryder Leblond. Cooper battled with this set of riders for a few laps, eventually settling for a fourth place in the Moto. Webb managed to get around his teammate about mid-Moto, putting him in a P3 position where he would finish the Moto. Both riders were setting themselves up for a good night.
As is customary in EnduroCross, the gate order was reversed, with the bottom eight riders lining up on row one. As the gate dropped and the riders got away, Cory Graffunder got out of shape, causing chaos coming into the first turn. He and Nick Thompson were fighting for space, which caused Graffunder to crash in front of Thompson, which unfortunately caused him to veer directly into the path of Abbott, who was charging hard from the back row, almost sending him into the stands. Abbott was now P16, but by the end of Lap 1, he moved up to P13 and continued to move forward. Webb was stuck behind riders from row one but was making calculated passes. He hit the timing stripe in P5 after one full lap. Jonny Walker made his way into P1 with Webb, Blazusiak and Leblond battling for the other Moto podium spots. Webb finished P4, giving him seven points in the Olympic scoring system. He was tied for P3 overall with Haaker coming into the final Moto.
The final EX Pro Moto of the night had fans on the edges of their seats. Leblond took the hole-shot with Walker, Haaker and Webb in tow. With Haaker and Webb being tied for the final podium spot, it came down to a head-to-head result between the pair. Abbott meanwhile, had to settle for a back row start due to his misfortune in the second race.
LeBlond continued to lead midway through Lap 1 when Haaker made a pass on Walker in the rock garden. This wasn’t great news for Webb, who was just off their rear wheel in P4, but his luck changed when Walker stuffed his front end into the side of Haaker, sending him to the ground for a moment. This allowed Webb to get around Haaker. He now had his sights on Walker and LeBlond. A bobble in the matrix by Walker on Lap 3 allowed Webb to move into P2, but Haaker was lurking on his rear wheel. As the riders approached the next corner, it was Haaker who returned pleasantries to Walker with an aggressive move. This caused the duo to lose all momentum as they returned the rock garden. LeBlond and Webb were now able to put in a small gap on the pair behind. Webb pushed and pushed to try and get past LeBlond, but the running order remained the same until the last half lap, when lapped riders played a factor.
As the leading pair entered the “cement corner” after the first rock garden, lapper Blake Gutzeit got in the way of LeBlond, allowing Webb to make the pass into P1, where he would finish the last half lap for the Moto win.
“I honestly feel bad for Ryder [LeBlond], as that would have been his first EX Moto win, but that is racing,” said Webb. “The racing was intense, so I am really happy with the result. The night started off well with the hot lap win, and I think I showed I can run the pace that is needed to win. I am already looking forward to round three in Denver.”
“The first turn melee in Moto 2 ended my chances of having a great night,” exclaimed Abbott. “Moto 1 showed that I had the pace, but what can you do? That second Moto finish had me on row two for the last race, and that isn’t where you want to be with the world-class talent we have racing this series. I am ready for Denver.”
In The EX Pro Women’s race, FactoryONE Sherco’s Louise Forsley finished P2, which was enough to keep her points lead in the overall championship. The rock garden seemed to be the differentiator in the race for the top three women. Forsley and Rachel Gutish battled for the first two laps, before the rocks were the undoing of Gutish. The three stayed in this running order for the remainder of the race. Seventeen-year-old Insider Enduro Sherco’s Hallie Marks finished P4.