Brad Bakken grabbed his first-ever national victory with an impressive performance at the Jester National Enduro in Arrington, Virginia, taking advantage of the absence of point leader Charlie Mullins who dislocated his wrist earlier in the week.
The Jester National Enduro was a new addition to this year’s Kenda AMA National Enduro schedule, held on the 5000-acre Oakridge estates and featuring never before used single-track, the event quickly sold out its 600-entry allotment.
Bakken got of to a quick start in the 65-mile race, winning the opening test of the day and building a cushion that he would rely on for the rest of the race. Test one would be the only test the N-Fab/Am Pro Yamaha rider would win all day, but it gave him just enough of an edge to hold off runner-up finisher Nick Fahringer by 15 seconds at the end of the day to claim his first-ever series win.
“I’m just really excited to get my first overall win, and especially to get it here in Virginia,” said Bakken. “I knew going in it was going to be a fun event because it’s kinda like a home race for me, since I live in Virginia.”
Bakken’s win marked the first for Yamaha since Mullins win the championship in 2010. Bakken’s win was also the first for a 250F.
Fahringer came on strong in the end to secure second after getting off to a slow start. The AirGroup Husqvarna racer was eighth fastest in the six-and-a-half-mile opening section, which put him in a hole from the get-go. However, the Ohio rider won tests two, four and five to move up into contention for the win.
“I dug down deep and I think I beat Brad in all the rest of the tests, but I just put myself in too deep of a hole in that first test,” said Fahringer. “But honestly, this was a home race for Brad and he made me work for it and I just came up a little short.”
Grant Baylor rounded out the podium, the KTM factory support rider finishing 24 seconds behind Fahringer.
“This was my second time on the podium and it was a really good day for me,” said Baylor. “I started out a little bit slow, I was sixth at the beginning of the day, but I finally loosened up and the trail started flowing a lot better for me and I started twisting the throttle a little bit more and making up positions.”
Fourth went to Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Andrew DeLong, who the event with the third-fastest time in the first two tests, however, a mistake in test five dropped the FE-350 rider to fourth at the end of the day.
"I was feeling really good and I was in a solid position overall," DeLong said. "But on test five, things took a turn for the worse. I made a wrong turn at some point and I think I finished seventh in that test." ??
Jesse Groemm as second in the first test, but was 14th in test two, which put him out of the running. The Maxxis/Klim/DirtWise KTM rider was strong in tests four and five and was able to salvage fifth for the day.
Sixth went to Eight-time National Enduro Champ Mike Lafferty, who ran a fairly consistent race all day.
American Beta’s Cory Buttrick had one of his best rides of the year for seventh, finishing 33 seconds ahead of AirGroup Racing’s Ryder Lafferty in eighth.
Craig DeLong was ninth overall and first in the Rekluse AA-Expert class, with KTM rider Paddy Holloway rounding out the top 10.
Despite the absence of Mullins, the FMF/KTM rider still holds the lead in the series points standings due to the fact that he held a 40-point lead in the series heading into the Virginia race. However, after the Jester National Enduro, Fahringer now sits just 15 points out of the lead, with Bakken another six points back, meaning the series has all of a sudden tightened up.
Craig DeLong won the Rekluse AA-Expert class by three minutes and 32 seconds over Yamaha-mounted Jason Greer. Longtime Enduro ace Stephen Edmondson was third on a KTM, ahead of Jeff Melik (Sherco) and Zach Klamfoth (KTM).
So far, the end of year purse is up to $2000 for the Rekluse Expert-AA Class Championship end-of-year purse.
The Kenda AMA National Enduro Series resumes on June 29th for round six of the series in Marquette, Michigan. For more information on the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series please go to www.nationalenduro.com