The SRT Off Road team (@srtoffroad) includes over twenty riders competing in the top off-road racing series in the US. The team has become a force to be reckoned with as many of those riders are taking wins and competing for championships. For the 2017 Tennessee Knockout, team SRT will have six riders competing with five of those riders pre-qualified for the Sunday program.
Redmond finished a career best third at the 2016 TKO to join Cody Webb and Wade Young on the podium. He has joined team SRT for 2017 and will be aiming for another podium finish.
Cory Graffunder is now in his third season with SRT and has been a top finisher in Extreme off-road races for years now. He will be looking for his first TKO podium finish.
Wild Wally Palmer is a fan favorite that is capable of top results but seems to favor impressing fans with creative lines over results.
Ron Commo III is a former top trials rider that has transitioned to off-road racing and will look to put those skills to use at the Trials Training Center.
Mark Heresco Jr. excels at tough off-road events and will be aiming to qualify for the fifteen rider main event.
Craig Thompson will be competing during the Saturday amateur competition in the 40 plus Vet class with the goal of qualifying for the Sunday competition. You have to love a company owner that is out there testing products himself in the most extreme conditions and then helping to get some of the top riders to the races to test and showcase SRT products.
Graffunder has been a top finisher at the TKO before and Steward Baylor is a former National Enduro Champion who is capable of a top result in the tough Tennessee terrain. Buttrick is a solid competitor that has had a resurgence of speed since joining the SRT KTM team in 2016 and Wild Wally Palmer is always a crowd favorite due to his go for broke riding style. McGinnis is lesser known but has done well at tough events in the past.
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.
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.
Sequatchie, TN (July 22, 2011) – Team Zip Ty Husqvarna will have two top riders on hand to try to take the top step of the podium at the first running of the KENDA Tennessee Knockout, fueled by Monster Energy.
Cory Graffunder and Jamie Lanza will be competing at round three of the GEICO EnduroCross series in Indianapolis just a few days before so they will make the short drive down to Tennessee’s Trials Training Center for the August 28th TKO. Both of these young riders have already proven their skill and tenacity with impressive results in big international events so either one of them could put a Husqvarna in the winner’s circle.
Cory Graffunder is arguably Canada’s top off road motorcycle racer and winner of the 2010 Xtinction Extreme Enduro in Canada as well as 4th place finisher in the 2010 EnduroCross championship. Graffunder has also put in a few trips to Europe for some Extreme Enduro action and has a few top ten finishes at Erzeberg, the most famous Extreme Enduro, so that experience should prove very valuable at the Tennessee Knockout.
Jamie Lanza has joined Graffunder on the Zip Ty Husqvarna team for 2011 and he too has proven his speed and strength in tough off road events with several great results at the ISDE as a member of the US Junior Trophy Team. Lanza is a crowd favorite at any event he competes in as his short stature and go for broke riding style grab the attention of everybody in attendance.
Ty Davis, one of the most versatile Motocross and off road motorcycle racers of all time has high expectations for his riders at the Tennessee Knockout. "Cory is really strong at these difficult events and Jamie is incredibly fit and never gives up so I believe that they can both be a threat for the win at this event” stated Davis. “It is great to have another good off road event that fits well with our EnduroCross travel schedule to showcase our riders and sponsors."
The 2011 Kenda Tennessee Knockout event will feature Expert racing on Sunday, August 28th. Amateur riders will get the opportunity to compete on much of the same course on Saturday, August 27th and the top finishers will have the opportunity to advance to the Sunday Expert finals with free entries.