FMF KTM Factory Racing-backed Trystan Hart topped the 2022 Red Bull Tennessee Knockout. The Canadian dominated the day by setting the fastest times in all four rounds of racing that totaled nearly three hours on the rocky and challenging terrain. Red Bull KTM’s Manuel Lettenbichler finished second. The German was one minute and nineteen seconds behind Hart in the main event. Sherco Racing-backed Mario Roman finished third at the TKO to maintain a one point lead over Lettenbichler in the championship. The event served as round six of the FIM Hard Enduro World Championship (HEWC) and also served as the AMA Grand Championship for Extreme Off-Road racing so world championship points were earned and an AMA number one plate.
In addition to the pro racing, the Red Bull Tennessee Knockout crowned amateur champions. Saturday included two rounds of amateur racing with race two serving as the championship-deciding race. During that second race, Tennessee’s Drew Kirby earned the number one spot with a winning time of fifty-eight minutes and five seconds on his KTM. Rodrigo Lopes finished 4 minutes and six seconds behind and Tyler Soriano rounded out the top three. Sixteen-year-old Chase Landers won the morning race and finished fourth in the race two. The top thirty riders also earned the opportunity to compete with the thirty-two pre-qualified pro riders that included ten of the HEWC riders.
Also on Saturday, Sam Bird raced an Electric Motion to beat JoJo Toole to win the inaugural ECR eMoto electric motorcycle class. Toole was riding a prototype XE4 conversion that utilized a Yamaha YZ250F motocross chassis. Jason Smith rounded out the podium on another Electric Motion. A total of twenty-four riders competed with seventeen completing the full loop. .
Other Saturday class winners among nearly 500 participants included Riley Bender in Amateur B, Nicholas Trailer in Amateur C, Stephen Thaxton in 45+ Vet and Seth Steiner in Youth Lites 12-15.
Sunday’s format consisted of four rounds of racing for the sixty-one riders that earned a spot and it started with the hot lap on a 1.6 mile “short course”. Hart set the fastest time of 7:41.30 seconds. Lettenbichler was second with a time of 7:45.47 and Roman rounded out the top three with a time of 7:49.04. Poland’s Taddy Blazusiak was fourth with a 7:52.00 on the Factory GasGas and American Ryder LeBlond put in the fifth fastest time at 7:55.02.
Round two included all sixty-one riders competing on an eleven mile “long-course” in the order of the hot-lap results and only the top twenty-five riders earn a spot in the next round. Hart again set the standard with a 56:03.61 time. Blazusiak was next with a 57:07.33 lap. Bulgarian Teodor Kabakchiev made his mark with the third fastest time of 57:20.13. Lettenbichler was fourth with a time of 58:35.84. Spain’s Alfredo Gomez was fifth with a time of 1:00:06.55.
There was a last-chance qualification race among the four riders that just missed the cut and Arizona’s James Flynn took that spot to be the last rider to make it to the second round for the second year in a row.
That second round places the riders into five groups (four groups of five and one group of six that included the LCQ winner Flynn). Those groups would be racing another loop on the “long-course” with some additional difficult sections added. The riders are just competing with the riders in their respective groups to take the top four spots to make up the twenty riders that make it to the main event. Hart won group one ahead of Hard Enduro GOAT Graham Jarvis, LeBlond and Israel’s Suff Salla. Roman won group two ahead of American Jordan Ashburn, Blasuzisak and multi-time Trials champion Pat Smage. Group three was won by Kabakchiev followed by FactoryOne Sherco’s Cody Webb, Poland’s Dominik Olszowy, and Germany’s Tim Apolle. Lettenbichler took the win in group four with Czechoslovakia’s David Cyprian second, American Keith Curtis third and Canada’s Cory Graffunder fourth. In the fifth group, South Africa’s Wade Young finished first on a Sherco. Spain’s Alfredo Gomez was second, American Logan Bolopue was third and Mexican David Garza was fourth. The five group winners earn front row starting positions and the second-place finishers start on row two and so on.
The main event was back on the short course with a 30-minute plus one lap race, which ended up taking thirty-seven minutes and forty-one seconds to complete. Hart took the early lead and opened a small gap on Lettenbichler who kept it close for the entire race but was never able to get close enough to make any pass attempts. But with the difficult hill climbs, rocks and roots, it was always close enough to keep things interesting. In the end, Hart finished 1:19.58 ahead of his fellow KTM rider.
Roman had to make a couple of first lap passes to get up to third place but he too was never able to get close enough to Lettenbichler to make any pass attempts. Young put in a good ride on his Sherco to finish in fourth position 5:13.46 behind Hart. Kabakchiev started the race in third position and dropped back to fifth, 7:46.71 behind the winner.
Gomez had to pass a few riders and ultimately finished sixth, just ten seconds ahead of LeBlond, who was the top American on his Dellullo Racing Husqvarna in seventh position. LeBlond was the last rider on the lead lap and finished the main event in 46:12.34.
Jarvis, the winner of the 2022 Red Bull Romanics event two weeks before the TKO, finished eighth. Webb was ninth on his Sherco and Cyprian rounded out the top ten on a KTM.
“It feels amazing to be standing on the top of the podium,” said Hart. “I am stoked to get the win here in North America, these boys have been kicking my butt the last couple of weekends (Erzberg and Romaniacs).” The Canadian will now be looking for a second in his home country at the Outliers Hard Enduro on August 27-28 in Calgary.
“Pretty stoked to be back racing in the US,” said Lettenbichler. “I had a pretty hard day, I hurt my heel in Nashville at the straight rhythm which was a little frustrating but I fought through it. Congrats to Mario who was riding good today and also to first place Trystan Hart because he dominated today.”
“Thank you very much to the crowd who was yelling Mario all day,” said Roman. “I had a fantastic day and a good battle with the boys. Knockout one, I was riding too relaxed but Knockout two, I rode better and got a first row start. In the main event, Teo made an aggressive pass in the first turn and I almost crashed and had to overtake some riders and do a good job for the Sherco racing team.”
The Women’s pro class competed along with the top amateurs on the more difficult race two and FactoryOne Sherco rider Louise Forsley took the win ahead of Beta USA’s Morgan Tanke. Nikki Russell rounded out the podium on a Husqvarna. Forsley took the AMA Grand Championship number one plate and impressively finished thirty-second overall among all the amateur riders.
2022 Red Bull Tennessee, Knockout Main Event Results
- Trystan Hart, KTM, Canada
- Manuel Lettenbichler, KTM, Germany
- Mario Roman, Sherco, Spain
- Wade Young, Sherco, South Africa
- Todor Kabakchiev, KTM, Bulgaria
- Alfredo Gomez, GasGas, Spain
- Ryder LeBlond, Husqvarna, USA
- Graham Jarvis, Husqvarna, Great Britain
- Cody Webb, Sherco, USA
- David Cyprian, KTM, Czechoslovakia
- Taddy Blazusiak, GasGas, Poland
- Dominik Olszowy, GasGas, Poland
- Patrick Smage, Sherco, USA
- Suff Sella, KTM, Israel
- Keith Curtis, Sherco, USA
- Logan Bolopue, Sherco, USA
- Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna, Canada
- Tim Apolle, Beta, Germany
- David Garza, Beta, Mexico
- Jordan Ashburn, Husqvarna, USA
Keep an eye on Red Bull TV for several videos featuring the 2022 Red Bull Tennessee Knockout.