RPM KTM’s Trystan Hart (@trystanhart_84) outpaced FactoryOne Sherco’s Cody Webb (@codywebb2) to take his first Kenda AMA Tennessee Knockout win. The Canadian won all four rounds of racing at the tenth annual TKO. Chile’s Benjamin Herrera Ried rounded out the podium on his Beta.
In addition to the pro racing, the Kenda Tennessee Knockout serves as the AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship and nearly 300 riders entered the amateur classes to take their shot at earning a number one plate. The top thirty amateur riders also earned the chance to compete with the 26 pre-qualified pro riders.
The weekend started with a Friday prologue qualifier to set starting positions for the two Saturday races with some of the riders already earning a direct spot in the championship-deciding second race via top-ten finishes at one of the six AMA regional championship events. Danny Lewis took the win in that championship event with a time of 1:12:31. Will Riordan finished second with a time of 1:15:45 and Tyler Kincaid rounded out the podium with a time of 1:17:31.
Sunday’s format consisted of four rounds of racing for the fifty-six riders and starts with a Hot Lap on a mile-long “short course”. Hart set the fastest time with a 5:17.038 lap. SRT Offroad-backed Cory Graffunder was second with a 5:20.926 lap followed by Husqvarna backed Noah Kepple with a 5:27.148. Beta USA’s Max Gerston finished fourth in 5:27.488 and Webb rounded out the top five with a 5:27.488 time after a small crash.
Knockout round one takes place on an eighteen-mile long loop with the top twenty-five riders moving on to the next round. The riders take off in thirty-second intervals and race against the clock. Hart set the fastest time again with a time of 57:23.237. Webb came back to set the second-fastest time at 1:00:08.783. Chile’s Herrera showed his pace by setting the third-fastest time of 1:00:50.976. Gerston was fourth with a time of 1:01:33.401 and teenager Ryder LeBlond rounded out the top five in 1:02:23.687.
Knockout round two switches from a race against the clock to a head-to-head format with four groups of five riders and one group of six after a twenty-sixth rider earned a spot in the next round after out-dueling three other riders in the last chance qualifier. In this round, those five groups competed for the fifteen spots in the final by finishing in the top three in their respective groups. This was back on the eighteen-mile long course with a few more extremely challenging sections added in. Hart won group one over Keith Curtis and Will Riordan, who was one of the Saturday qualifiers. Webb won group two over Kepple and Graffunder. Herrera won group three over Beta USA’s Ronnie Commo and Sherco’s Quinn Wentzel. Gerston won group four over Jordan Ashburn and RPM KTM’s Cooper Abbott. Ashburn, who rides for the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki GNCC team borrowed his dad’s 1998 Kawasaki KDX 200 and put it into the main event. Sherco’s Nick Fahringer won group five over LeBlond and Saturday’s Amateur class winner Danny Lewis.
The main event moved back to the short course with a 30-minute plus one lap battle, which ended up taking Hart forty minutes and thirty-five seconds to complete eight laps. Hart jumped out to the early lead and managed to maintain it for the entire race, despite steady pressure from Webb, who is a six-time TKO winner. Webb ended up finishing just over 35 seconds behind Hart.
Herrera came out on top of a race-long battle with Kepple for the final podium spot. It was a strong ride for both riders. Curtis, who is a multi-time Snowmobile Hillclimb champion rounded out the top five on a Husqvarna. Kepple and Curtis were both filling in for the Husqvarna team due to Colton Haaker being out with an injured hand.
Gerston had a tough first lap that put him well down the field but he rode a strong race to finish sixth. LeBlond who is still a teenager finished seventh on his KTM. Riordan, another teenager finished eighth and was the highest placed rider that qualified through from Saturday’s racing. Graffunder finished ninth on his Husqvarna and Fahringer rounded out the top ten on his Sherco.
Hart has had a lot of podium finishes in both EnduroCross and Extreme off-road events over the last few years and he has now beat Webb at two major events in a row. “The most stressful part of the day was having Cody right behind me for the entire main event,” Hart said. ”He is one of the best riders in the world at this and I knew that if I made any mistakes that he would take advantage.”
Webb has won the TKO six times and he was satisfied with the effort he put in. “Hats off to Trystan, he had a really good ride today and I didn’t feel like could do anything more. I wiped out hard in the Hot-Lap today, so I made my mechanic work hard today. I am happy with second because I know that I did everything I could.”
Herrera traveled from his home country of Chile in 2018 to compete in the TKO and EnduroCross events but raced the FIM Enduro World Championship series in 2019. He is back for more racing in the US in 2020. “I am really happy with my result because I raced fast enduro last year in the World Championship so this is a big change with this kind of race. I a lot the format and hard-enduro so I hope to compete more for this year and next year.”
The Women’s class had a total of 12 riders that tried to earn a spot in the main event by completing the morning race within the two and a half-hour time limit and just three of those riders moved forward to the main. The main event had a similar format to the men with a modified version of the short-course and a fifteen-minute plus one lap race.
Beta USA-backed Rachel Gutish (@rachel_gutfish) took her second consecutive TKO win and AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship with a strong ride with a total race time of 19:41. Canadian Shelby Turner (@shelby50turner) finished second on her KTM, 48 seconds back and Louise Forsley (@louiseforsley77) rounded out the podium on her Sherco.
FMF KTM Factory Racing-backed Cody Webb (@codywebb2) won his sixth straight Kenda Tennessee Knockout despite a recent injury and stacked field of talented riders from around the world. After four rounds of racing that added up to nearly three hours, Germany’s Manuel “Manni” Lettenbichler (@m_letti304) finished second on a KTM and Spain’s Mario Roman (@marioroman74) rounded out the podium on his Sherco.
The multi-round Tennessee Knockout started with 262 Amateur entries competing on Saturday in a two-race format that allowed the top thirty riders to move forward to compete in the four round Sunday competition that included thirty-one pre-qualified pro riders. That pre-qualified list included the top North American and International Extreme Enduro racers. Hawaii’s Kekoa Estrella took the Amateur win to earn the AMA Amateur Extreme Enduro Grand National Championship and move forward to Sunday.
The Sunday morning program started with a Hot Lap on a mile long “short course” and Webb started the day off with a 4:33 lap to earn the first starting position for the next Knockout round. Wade Young, the 2018 Red Bull Romaniacs winner, set the second fastest time at 4:43. Lettenbichler got off to a good start with the third fastest time at 5:12. Roman had the fourth fastest time at 5:26. Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker was rounded the time five with a 6:06 lap.
The second round sent the riders out on a fourteen-mile loop in thirty second intervals, based on the hot lap times. Young and Lettenbichler erased their gaps to Webb and the three riders battled closely for several miles before Young finally opened the gap in the last few miles. Young set the fastest time at 1:08:54. Lettenbichler was second fastest at 1:09:30 and Webb was third at 1:10:20. Roman set the fourth fastest time at 1:15:47 and Austria’s Lars Enockl was fifth at 1:19:57. Only the fastest twenty-six riders moved on to round three and the remaining riders were knocked out of the competition.
Round three switched from the riders racing the track against the clock to a multi-rider head-to-head format. The fastest twenty-five riders were split into five groups of five and a 26th rider was added to group six as the LCQ alternate. The straight-line LCQ competition was not held due to race one taking longer than expected due to the difficult course. Haaker, Lettenbichler, Webb, Roman and Enockl won their respective groups to earn front row starting positions. The second and third place finishers in each group also moved on to the fifteen-rider main event.
The main event moved back to the short course and would be a 30-minute plus one lap battle, which ended up taking 41 minutes and 31 seconds for Webb to complete. Haaker jumped into the lead off the start and led the field into the woods and held that spot until he struggled to make it up a tough climb exiting the water fall that would prove to be one of the most challenging obstacles for all the riders. Webb capitalized on Haaker’s mistake to take the lead and quickly opened a small gap on the field. Roman and Young were not far behind as they completed the first lap while Haaker and Lettenbichler were another 20 plus seconds back in fourth and fifth. On lap two, Young and Haaker struggled again on the same hill allowing Lettenbichler to pass both of them and Young also passed Haaker in the melee.
The top five remained the same for several laps with Roman closing in on Webb. At the halfway point, Roman began to fall back from Webb and Lettenbichler ended up passing him for second on lap five of seven. This ended up setting the final top five results, with Webb finishing 1:28 ahead of Lettenbichler. Roman was 2:15 behind the leader and Young ended up finishing fourth, 5:17 back. Haaker went a lap down on the final lap but held fifth.
Webb broke his foot at Erzberg in June, so he had limited preparation for this event. “I was definitely worried, especially with all the competition coming over from Europe,” Webb said. “Some of Hard Enduro’s biggest hitters came over here and I had eight weeks of couch surfing and only eight days on the bike since my injury so I was happy to get another win. I kind of conserved some energy in those early races and I think that helped me for the main, but I still felt like I was going to die out there.”
Lettenbichler, the twenty-year-old German who has had great season, including podium finishes at Erzberg and Romaniacs was impressive in his first TKO visit. “It was a nice event, I really enjoyed it, the main event was super gnarly with the slippery rocks and humidity, it is not like this in Germany,” Lettenbichler said. “I am super proud of second place and I passed Mario a few laps from the end, so I am stoked about that.”
Roman finished third at the TKO for the second consecutive year. “I came here with more preparation because last year I suffered a lot, so I prepared more for the short, sprint main event,” Roman said. “I have to thank Sherco USA and the friends I met last year for helping me for this event.”
Team SRT-Husqvarna backed Trystan Hart had a pretty quiet day to finish sixth in his first ever TKO. Enockl finished seventh on his GasGas. Tennessee’s Jordan Ashburn finished eighth on his Beta. Ben Kelley took ninth on his Trail Jesters KTM and Chris Satterfield rounded out the top ten on his KTM.
Benjamin Herrera Ried, from Chile finished eleventh on a Beta. Casey Satterfield (Chris’s brother), finished twelfth on a KTM. Quinn Wentzel rode a Husqvarna to finish thirteenth. Grayson Gonsalves rode another Husqvarna to fourteenth and Chuck DeLullo, a former GNCC ATV Champion rounded out the top fifteen.
Beta’s Rachel Gutish (@rachel_gutfish) took the Saturday Women’s class win ahead of Nikki Russell and Allie Dorsey. The women put on an exciting race for the fans as the technical obstacles challenged the riders, but they proved to be incredibly resilient.
2018 Kenda Tennessee Knockout Main Event Results:
Cody Webb, KTM
Manuel Lettenbichler, KTM
Mario Roman, Sherco
Wade Young, Sherco
Colton Haaker, Husqvarna
Trystan Hart, Husqvarna
Lars Enockl, GasGas
Jordan Ashburn, Beta
Ben Kelley, KTM
Chris Satterfield, KTM
Benjamin Herrera Ried, Beta
Casey Satterfield, Husqvarna
Quinn Wentzel, Husqvarna
Grayson Gonsalves, Husqvarna
Chuck DeLullo, Husqvarna
Keep an eye here on the TKO blog for a video recap within a few days.
KTM will have a strong team of riders aiming to take the 2018 Kenda Tennessee Knockout title. Cody Webb (@codywebb2) and Josh Toth (@joshtoth_) from the FMF KTM Factory Racing Team (@ktmfactoryracing) will be joined under the KTM tent by Ben Kelley (@benkelley530) on the Trail Jesters KTM Racing Team (@trailjesters) mount. And the team will also host Germany’s Manuel Lettenbichler (@m_letti304). All four riders will be racing the KTM 300 XC-W TPI two-stroke. The TKO will take place on the weekend of August 18-19 at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee.
Webb, the five-time TKO winner and defending champion is also the current AMA EnduroCross and FIM Super Enduro World Champion. He grew up competing in Trials events on the TTC property and has used that local knowledge of the terrain to fend off world-class talent that has included Graham Jarvis, Jonny Walker, Wade Young, Mario Roman, Kyle Redmond, and Max Gerston to win five straight Tennessee Knockout titles. A broken foot at the Erzberg Rodeo in June has kept him off the bike until this week so this may prove to be his most challenging TKO yet.
Toth is the defending GNCC XC-2 champion and he is currently tied for the lead in the 2018 AMA National Enduro championship. He has had a strong 2018 season with five GNCC XC-2 wins and his first National Enduro win at the most recent event. Toth has won extreme events including the 2017 Tough Like RORR so he will be an exciting rider to watch at his first ever TKO.
Kelley burst onto the TKO scene in 2016 with a fourth-place finish after qualifying through the Saturday amateur program. That combined with other strong results helped earn him the Trail Jesters KTM ride for 2017 and 2018. Kelly has four 2018 GNCC XC-2 wins and currently leads the points. He also backed that up with a win at the 2018 Tough Like RORR. Kelley is certainly capable of a podium finish.
Manuel Lettenbichler is a second generation Extreme Enduro racer. His father, Andreas, was one of the pioneers of Extreme Enduro competition and was a co-winner of the 2015 Erzberg Rodeo. Twenty-year-old “Manni” has had an amazing 2018 season that includes podium finishes at both Erzberg and Romaniacs. He also won the Red Bull Rocks and Logs event in Canada. It will be great to see the German competing at his first TKO.
Look for more top riders to be confirmed in the coming days as we close in on the event.