FMF KTM’s Cody Webb (@codywebb2) dominated the 2016 Kenda Tennessee Knockout but there was no shortage of spectacular action during the four rounds of Sunday racing.
The TKO is America’s most prestigious Extreme Enduro and the 2016 edition lived up to the reputation for being tough. Only 13 of the nearly 200 riders that entered qualified through to the main event and most of those riders finished just a handful of laps in the final. You can check out the highlights from the action below:
2016 Kenda Tennessee Knockout results, presented by Moose Racing and SRT:
Cody Webb (@codywebb2) continued his domination of the Kenda Tennessee Knockout by taking his fourth consecutive win. The Red Bull, FMF KTM rider was never challenged during the four-round competition at the Trials Training Center that culminated with a multi-lap main event in which he lapped the entire field.
South Africa’s Wade Young (@wadeyoung55), one of stars of the international Extreme Enduro scene, looked to have the pace to challenge Webb in the final but had to stop to repair a broken clutch perch. In spite of the stop, Young stormed back through the field on his Sherco to take second position.
Kyle Redmond (@kyleredmond777) rode his factory backed Beta to the final podium position.
Fourth position was taken by a relatively unknown twenty-year old Ben Kelley. The Connecticut native had to ride the Saturday qualifiers to earn a spot in the Sunday program and continued to impress all day. SRT-backed Cory Graffunder rounded out the top five.
Former National Enduro Enduro Champion Steward Baylor finished sixth on his KTM. Max Gerston rode his Beta to seventh. Noah Kepple recovered from an early crash to finish eighth. Husqvarna’s Mike Brown finished ninth and Quinn Wentzel had another strong TKO finish to round out the top ten.
Cory Buttrick, Nick Klapec and Wally Palmer were the other riders to qualify for the main event and finished eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth respectively.
The World’s top off-road riders are invited directly to the Sunday program for the Kenda Tennessee Knockout (TKO). One hundred and eighty unqualified Expert/Pro and amateur riders raced on Saturday with the top 29 finishers earning the opportunity to move on to the Sunday Expert Knockout rounds. On Sunday, riders compete in a very tough and spectator friendly four-round Knockout racing format.
The Sunday program started with a Hot Lap on a mile long “short course”. Webb set the fastest time of 3:13 over Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker, who clocked a 3:35. Redmond was third at 3:37. Brown fourth at 3:44 and Young started the day off with the fifth best time at 3:45. A total of forty eight riders completed the Hot Lap to move onto the first elimination round.
TKO round one sends the riders out in thirty second intervals against the clock on the thirteen mile “long course”. Only the top twenty five riders would move on to TKO two. Webb continued his dominance with a fast time of 52:28. Haaker again set the second fastest time at 53:06. Kelly shocked the field again by taking third with a time of 53:46. Young was fourth at 53:54 and Brown rounded out the top five with a time of 55:32.
For TKO two, the format changes to head to head racing with five groups of five riders competing on the long course with four additional challenging sections added. Only the top three in each group earn a spot in the fifteen rider main event. Just as the riders started, heavy thunder showers hit and dramatically increased the degree of difficulty. Webb continued to sail through despite the tough conditions to win his group over Redmond and Graffunder. Young served notice that he was learning the Trials Training Center terrain by winning his group and setting the second fastest overall time over Gerston and Buttrick. Kepple put in a great ride to win his group over Wentzel and Kelly. Brown took the win in group five over Baylor and Palmer finished just in time to start the main event. Amazingly, Nick Klapec was the only rider to make it to the finish in group two. Haaker lost a lot of time making repairs and did not finish before the main event started so he was knocked out of the competition.
When the main event started, Webb took the early lead and was followed by Young, Brown and Kepple. Kepple suffered a high speed crash that took him out of contention on the first lap while Webb quickly pulled away from the pack putting over 30 seconds on Young by the end of lap one. Young broke his clutch perch in a small crash on lap three and returned to the pits to repair it, seemingly ruining all chances of a podium finish as he went a lap down on Webb.
Brown, Graffunder and Redmond all held second at various points in the race while Young charged back through the field setting the fastest lap times. At the same time, Webb lapped the rest of the field at least once, rarely looking challenged by the incredibly challenging course made more difficult from the rain earlier in the day.
Brown pulled out of the race due to extreme fatigue just past the halfway point in the main event leaving Redmond and Graffunder to battle for the podium spots and hold off the fast closing Young, who would ultimately ride past both and into second. Redmond held on for third while Graffunder was forced to stop for water, which allowed Kelley to take fourth and bump him back to fifth.
Webb completed eight laps in just under 35 minutes of racing in the main event (in addition to the two hours of racing during the qualifying rounds), which was a lap ahead of Young and two ahead of Redmond.
“The day went great. The bike felt like a Trials bike out there and hooked up everywhere in spite of the tough conditions,” Webb said. “I got a big gap on Wade but then my pit board showed that he was running the same pace as me and I knew I had to keep pushing hard because he is a bulldog so it was unfortunate that he had the mechanical problem as it would have been fun to race with him more.”
“This was my first time in the US and it was good,” said Young, who has raced all of the major international Extreme races over the past few years with great success. “I think in terms of difficulty, this event is right up there. This format was shorter and high intensity with no place to rest on the track so if you made one mistake, it carried through to the next obstacle. It was a tough so intense that it made you almost sick but it was good.”
“The day was pretty tough but I started the day with third place in the hot lap, which got my day off to a good start,” said Redmond. “I had a crash in the beginning and I fell back and did not realize that I had worked up to second but then I just did not have the energy to fight off Wade at the end but I am happy to get a good result and make the podium because it was a tough day.”
2016 Kenda Tennessee Knockout results
Cody Webb – KTM
Wade Young – Sherco
Kyle Redmond – Beta
Ben Kelly – KTM
Cory Graffunder – KTM
Steward Baylor – KTM
Max Gerston – Beta
Noah Kepple – KTM
Mike Brown – Husqvarna
Quinn Wentzel – KTM
Cory Buttrick – KTM
Nick Klapec – KTM
Wally Palmer – KTM
Look for a highlight video in the coming days and a full Red Bull TV feature. More information on the air dates will be shared as soon as it is available.
American Cody Webb (@codywebb2) and the UK’s Jonny Walker (@jonnywalker_22) waged an epic back and forth battle for the win at the fifth annual KENDA AMA Tennessee Knockout (@tkoenduro) presented by Moose Racing and SRT Offroad. Webb eventually wore Walker down and opened a small gap with just a few laps remaining to take his third consecutive win at the Trials Training Center.
The KENDA Tennessee Knockout uses a unique four-round Sunday format to narrow down a fifty-five rider field. It consist of a Hot Lap on a mile-long short course that Webb won with a 3:41 lap time. FMF KTM’s Taylor Robert (@taylor_robert33) was second in that timed session and Walker rounded out the top three. Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker and Mike Brown finished fourth and fifth.
After the Hot Lap, the 51 riders that managed to complete a lap competed in the first Knockout round, which was a 14 mile off-road loop that was a race against the clock with the riders taking off in 30-second intervals in the order of their Hot Lap Times. Robert surprised Webb by catching him near the end of the lap and passing him for the physical lead and finished with a thirty-one second gap and a 48:45 Lap time. Walker also managed to set a faster time than Webb to take the second position just 25 seconds behind Robert. SRT Offroad’s Cory Graffunder set the fourth fastest time and Mike Brown was fifth. Only the top twenty-five riders would move on to the second Knockout round, which would feature five groups of five riders racing head to head.
Those top five riders were the top seed in each group and only the top three in each would earn a spot in the fifteen rider main event. Knockout two would again use the long loop but with more difficult sections added so the lap time increased to 54:41 for the fastest rider, which was again Robert. Walker, Webb, Graffunder and Brown also won each of their respective groups to earn front row starting spots for the main event.
When the fifteen riders launched out off the line for the main event, which was back on the short course for a 30-minute plus one lap race, it was Walker that got aggressive and took the lead out of the first turn. Webb and Robert were close behind so it looked like the fans were in for an epic battle between the top three riders from the morning Knockout rounds. Unfortunately for Robert, he got stuck on a hill on the first lap after almost hitting the back of Webb and pushed himself deep into the field.
The battle between Walker and Robert was intense from the beginning with the two trading the lead several times during the first two-thirds of the nine-lap race. Then Walker did not make it up one of the extremely technical hills and he blocked Webb and both were forced to go back to the bottom to make another attempt. The crowd was cheering loudly as they jockeyed for position and Webb managed to get turned around quicker and take the lead. At this point, Walker was starting to feel the fatigue of the intense pace, high temperatures and humidity so Webb managed to slowly pull away in the final few laps to take the win with a one-minute and 43-second gap.
This was Webb’s third win in a row at the TKO, and combined with his 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross championship, it is hard to argue that he is the best Extreme off-road racer in America right now. And he was facing off against Walker, who many would argue is currently the strongest Extreme off-road racer in the world. “I had chills running down my back from the fatigue and I know that Jonny felt a little sick the last few days and also had to deal with jetlag, so I am happy that I was I was able to take the win”, Webb said. “This is definitely right up there with the biggest wins I have ever had with all of the tough riders that showed up for this event”.
Walker was disappointed to not get the win but had high praise for Webb and liked the format. “This race was shorter than most of the races that I do but the intensity was very high”, Walker said. “I will definitely be back next year looking to get the win.”
Robert rebounded from his mishap on the first lap as well as another one on lap two. He battled with Brown for several laps and made the pass to take third once only to be pushed back to fourth again after an aggressive counter pass. Robert eventually got by to solidly secure the final podium spot. “I got stuck on a pretty small hill on that first lap and that put me way back”, Robert said. “I have improved my technical skills a lot over the last few years but I can’t make up time on Cody and Jonny on this kind of terrain, but I am happy to get back on the podium.”
Husqvarna’s Brown held on for fourth, the last rider to remain on the lead lap. Gruffunder had a steady ride to take fifth on his KTM.
Beta’s Kyle Redmond finished sixth. Haaker was seventh on his factory Husqvarna. AmPro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn, who is a Tennessee native finished eight. RPM KTM’s Ty Tremaine finished ninth and Beta’s Max Gerston rounded out the top ten.
2015 KENDA AMA Tennessee Knockout, presented by Moose Racing and SRT Offroad. Results:
1. Cody Webb – KTM
2. Jonny Walker – KTM
3. Taylor Robert – KTM
4. Mike Brown – Husqvarna
5. Cory Graffunder – KTM
6. Kyle Redmond – Beta
7. Colton Haker – Husqvarna
8. Jordan Ashburn – Yamaha
9. Ty Tremaine – KTM
10. Max Gerston – Beta
11. Grant Baylor – Yamaha
12. Ricky Russell – Yamaha
13. Mitch Carvolth – KTM
14. Quinn Wentzel – KTM
15. Wally Palmer – KTM/Christini