After his stellar performance as a Club rider in Argentina,
Gary Sutherlin hoped to carry that momentum into Slovakia in
his debut on the U.S. World Trophy team, but like “Brownie,”
he discovered he probably had too much bike for the task at
hand, plus he doesn’t consider himself a woods specialist,
though he still earned a gold for his commendable 17th in E2.
After one subpar
day, Taylor Robert
rebounded, put in
and ended up
fourth in E2.
By the time Mike Brown decided he should ride a TE300, the
trusty FE501 (the same bike he rode in Argentina with the same
engine he’d used in Italy the year before) had already been
shipped. It was too much bike for the job, as getting it stopped
on Slovakia’s many steep downhills and tiptoeing through the
trees and off-cambers just wasn’t the bike’s forte. He made the
best of it en route to a gold-medal-earning ninth in E3.
Traditionally, Americans start relatively slowly as they
overcome jet lag, different bike setups than they’re used
to (especially in the “ecology” tires, which are limited to
knobs 13mm or just over a half inch in height), the format
of the event with its different rules than back home, and
even the food.
U.S. World Trophy team manager Antti Kallonen put the
difference down to pre-race prep: “I had a training camp
and all that, so the guys know what to expect when you
come to day 1, and it showed.”
Naturally, that got the team fired up, with Russell say-
ing, “Ryan rode really well today ,and so did the rest of the
guys, so I’m pretty pumped. We’re leading, and I had a
good day. Now, it’s just time to keep repeating.”
Unfortunately for Russell and the rest of the team, there
would be no repeating, at least for most of them. After
twisting his knee badly enough in one test and wadding his
bike in the next test, Russell’s week was over after day 3.
(Upon his return home, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL.
Frustratingly, he still led E1 and was second individual
overall, even after his rough second day.)
While a downer morale-wise, that still left five fast guys
in the running, though Australia’s six proved a little quicker
on the day to take the lead, with Team USA second. Sipes
took the overall individual lead at this point, even after
Australia’s Daniel Milner beat him in the day’s E2 results.
Things took an even stranger twist on day 3—eight of
the best World Trophy team riders missed an arrow or
somehow went slightly off course and apparently missed
an observation check. Though they likely gained no advan-
tage, officials deemed them “excluded” or disqualified.
The eight were all members of powerhouse countries,
thus completely changing the course of the race. Among
them were half (three) from France, two from Spain and
one each from Great Britain, Italy and the U.S.—Robert.
Naturally, each country’s FIM delegate protested at that
evening’s FIM jury meeting, with no real decision reached
except that the eight affected individuals could continue
Though the very first test of the week was average (being that
he was the first rider onto the virgin course), Kailub Russell
caught fire after that and ended up leading not just the E1
class but the overall. Unfortunately, the hottest off-road racer
in America tore his ACL and had to call it quits on day 3.
90TH FIM INTERNATIONAL SIX DAYS ENDURO, SLOVAKIA
SILVER LINING IN A BLACK CLOUD