Beta USA (@betausa) has confirmed that three of their team riders will be competing at the 2019 Kenda Tennessee Knockout. Max Gerston (@maxgerston) will be competing in the men’s pro class while Rachel Gutish (@rachel_gutfish) and Morgan Tanke (@mtanke31) will be competing in the Women’s class. The TKO has become the premier American Extreme Enduro and will serve as the AMA Grand Championship for Extreme Enduro competition. The ninth annual TKO will take place at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee on August 16-18.
Gerston is a longtime Beta USA factory rider that has won the AMA West Hare Scrambles championship to go along with several top finishes in EnduroCross and major Extreme Enduro events. His best TKO finish so far is a fourth place so he will be anxious to earn a podium finish in 2019.
Gutish has won the AOMC Women’s class at the TKO two times in the past in addition to multiple EnduroCross main event wins and is a regular top finisher in GNCC and other off-road events. She will be facing the largest Women’s field yet as there are already sixteen women entered for 2019.
Tanke has also been a longtime Beta team rider and has multiple EnduroCross main event wins to her credit along with a win at the 2017 TKO in the Women’s class. The Riverside, California native has proven her versatility with top finishes in several types of races.
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.