Round 4 of the AMA EnduroCross season once again provided the packed house with intense action and a dramatic conclusion. The FactoryONE roster of Cody Webb, Cooper Abbott and Louise Forsley continued its consistent riding. Cody Webb and Louise Forsley both walked away with P2 honors while Cooper Abbott finished P5 overall.
The night started with the Hot Lap qualification on what was dubbed a very unique course. Gate pick was crucial for this round as riders were faced with a short start directly into a difficult flat right-hand 180-degree turn. (The rider’s rear brake pedal is on the right-hand side, making it difficult to stop and put your foot down for balance.) Abbott and Webb ended up with the third and fourth picks respectively with times of 38.711 and 39.201
As the gate dropped for Moto 1, it was Jonny Walker first to the hole-shot line with Abbott on his rear wheel and Webb in fifth. Walker extended his lead over the opening few laps but it didn’t last long as a hard-charging Abbott closed the gap on Lap 3. Abbott was able to make the pass for the lead shortly after. Just behind the leading duo, Webb and Colton Haaker were in a podium position battle equally. The pair were clicking off consistent laps, and together they closed the distance to Walker and Abbott. Abbott had a small bobble on the backside of the track, which allowed Walker back into the lead momentarily. Abbott stuck the nose of his Sherco 300 four-stroke inside of Walker as they entered the rock garden about a half lap later. The pair made contact and thus, Abbott expected an equal greeting in the next corner, so he went high, but it wasn’t Walker who returned the pleasantries. Haaker ran into Abbott’s right side, which bent his rear brake pedal, making it very difficult for him over the remainder of the moto. With the contact, Abbott was pushed once again into Walker, leaving the pair open. This allowed not only Haaker to pass but also sent Webb and Trystan Hart by. The moto finished Haaker, Webb, Hart, Walker and then Abbott for the top five spots.
The inverted gate for Moto 2 had Abbott and Webb stuck in the back left corner of row two, which was not ideal. As the riders entered turn one, the pair got pushed out, forcing them to have to contend from the back. Matters got worse from there as a rider pileup before the matrix pushed them even further back. The pair made their way through the majority of the field, but they had to settle for fifth for Abbott and sixth for Webb at the checkered flag as the front runners stayed clear. Webb was now sitting on eight total points and Abbott with 10 total going into the final moto. A podium position for either seemed a bit out of reach at the conclusion of the moto.
The final moto of the night was not for the faint of heart. As the pilots shot out of the gate and jockeyed for position coming into the first turn, a massive pileup collected the majority of the riders. Somehow, the pair of FactoryONE Sherco riders snuck around outside just behind Hart. Those that were in the driver’s seat for the final podium positions found themselves working from the back trying to gain valuable positions. Webb and Abbott rode smart for the moto as the pair of teammates knew that one mistake between them could have disastrous effects. Meanwhile, Haaker and Walker were making their way forward into the positions they needed to get on the podium with eventual moto winner Hart. This was not good news for Webb and Abbott, who had a glimmer of hope of making the final podium after the first turn melee. Luck was on the side of Webb, however, as Haaker came together with Ty Cullins on the tire stack jump, sending him over the bars just yards for the finish line jump. By the time he was able to get remounted, four riders were able to sneak past. This pushed Webb up to a final podium placement of P2. Unfortunately for Abbott, he needed a little more help as he finished just one point back of the final podium position.
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting that,” said a jubilated Webb. “I am really happy to be back on the podium with another P2. That makes three in a row. I know I have the pace and the ability to ride consistent laps, which seems to be the key to winning this year. That final moto was intense. I had my teammate Cooper Abbott on my rear wheel the entire time. I am thankful he is my teammate, or I could have imagined that being a slightly different race. I am looking forward to Boise, as I want to be one step higher on that podium,” concluded Webb.
“Moto 1 was going so well until it wasn’t,” said Abbott. “I had a great start and I was able to race hard for the entire moto. Unfortunately, my rear brake pedal got destroyed after some riders had made contact with me. It made it hard to finish, but I still managed to hold on to fifth for the moto. Moto 2 didn’t go as well as Cody, and I got stuck in turn one with a group of riders and then again just before the matrix. I was able to put my head down and once again finish fifth. In the last moto, I got another good jump and was upfront. While I was behind Cody, I didn’t want to risk making an aggressive pass, which could have sent us both down. We both rode very clean to finish the moto on the podium. If only things had gone a little different in Moto 1, I could have had my first podium of the year,” concluded Abbott.
Forsley entered the night with just a single marker down in the championship from Shelby Turner. Forsley was battling illness during the week, which made things even more difficult with limited recovery and ride time, but she decided to gut it out, as every point is critical over the final rounds of the series. She showed why she is in the points hunt by riding very consistently and avoiding mistakes, although she did have one on the opening lap, which put her back in fourth place early. She made her way up to P2, where she would ultimately finish the moto. Inside Enduro Sherco’s Hallie Marks, 17, just missed her first podium of the year as Rachel Gutish passed her on the last lap.
“Unfortunately, I have been under the weather this week,” said Forsley. “I knew I had to race because I am right there in the championship mix. Every point is crucial at this stage with now only two rounds remaining. I had a mistake early, but I was able to overcome it and ride a comfortable race.”