The third time was the charm for Cody Webb to conquer the KENDA Tennessee Knockout. After finishing second to Mike Brown the previous two years, Webb dominated the multi round event to take the largest portion of the $10,000 purse. Monster Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert won a multi rider battle for second during his first visit to the TKO while Husqvarna’s Cory Graffunder finished a close third.
Mother Nature combined with the tough trails at the Trials Training Center helped the event live up to its billing as an American Extreme Enduro. Heavy rain the night before forced a few course changes but there were still several hill climbs and creek sections that proved to be challenging for even the most talented riders.
The day started with a hot lap around a mile long “short course”. Cody Webb set the standard with a time of 2:57 and was followed by Brown (3:12), Kyle Redmond (3:13), Graffunder (3:14) and Nick Fahringer (3:21).
Next up was the first Knock Out round on the 13 mile “long course”. The 39 riders were sent out in 30 second intervals and the top 25 times would earn a spot in the next round. Webb again set the pace with a time of 54:02 followed by Fahringer (58:40), Brown (58:58), Redmond (1:00:41) and Graffunder (1:03:22). The extremely technical loop proved to be difficult and only and only 22 riders finished in time to start the next Knockout round.
TKO round two placed the riders into five groups of 4-5 riders and only the top three in each group would earn a spot in the 15 rider main event. Webb won group one over Fabien Planet, the multi-time French Enduro Champion and Enduro World Championship competitor. Max Gerston, the young Arizona rider won an intense battle with Russell Bobbitt to take the final spot from group one. Fahringer won group two over Jordan Ashburn and Grant Baylor. In group three, Wally Palmer used his two-wheel drive Christini to beat Brown and Quinn Wentzel, a top Trials rider. Robert won group four over Redmond and Loic Leonard, the French Canadian that had earned a spot from the Saturday qualifiers. Graffunder won group five over Zach Love and Bryan Roper.
"I learned a lot from getting second the past two years so it was great to get the win," said Webb of his 2013 TKO victory.
Fahringer took the lead on the start of the 8 lap main event and looked determined as he attacked the slippery rock sections. But the aggression proved a little too much as he lost control and hit a tree, which allowed Webb to take the lead. Once in the lead, Webb slowly pulled away from a multi rider battle for second. The lead was a minute and 25 seconds at the halfway point and grew to nearly three minutes at the finish. “I guess I like this Extreme stuff, even though you wonder why when you are out there struggling.” Webb said. “I learned a lot from getting second the past two years so it was great to get the win”.
Fahringer held second at the end of the first lap but further problems would eventually take him out of contention and he finished two laps down in eighth. Brown took over second but had Redmond on his tail and would take over the spot just before the halfway point but then broke his clutch lever with a tip over and allowed Brown back by. But then Robert, the current WORCS champion and Graffunder were in close formation and both pushed past. On lap seven of eight, Brown pulled out of the event after losing another position to Gerston. “I was just too tired and struggling all day” Brown said. “I have been in Mexico doing Baja testing and it took a lot out of me.”
Robert and Graffunder continued to battle for second all the way to the finish and would be the only two riders to remain on the lead lap with Webb. “I got better and gained confidence as the day went on” Robert said”. We have a lot of rocks in Arizona but they are like sand paper and these rocks have slime on them so I am happy I was able to do well”. Gerston was an impressive fourth place ahead of Planet who said “This was one of the toughest races I have ever done, especially the first long test”.
Redmond, Brown, Fahringer, Ashburn and Baylor rounded out the top ten.
2013 KENDA Tennessee Knockout Main Event Results:
1. Cody Webb Beta
2. Taylor Robert Kawasaki
3. Cory Graffunder Husqvarna
4. Max Gerston Beta
5. Fabien Planet Sherco
6. Kyle Redmond KTM
7. Mike Brown KTM
8. Nick Fahringer Husaberg
9. Jordan Ashburn Yamaha
10. Grant Baylor KTM
11. Bryan Roper KTM
12. Quinn Wentzel KTM
13. Loic Leonard KTM
14. Wally Palmer Christini
15. Zach Love KTM