FMF/KTM’s Trystan Hart took the overall win in both Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2023 AMA EnduroCross Series this past weekend. Hart put together a solid weekend to go 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 over the course of the two-day event in front of a sellout crowd at Hero’s Arena in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Defending Champion Jonny Walker, of Great Britain, still leads the overall championship standings with 103 points. The factory Beta rider had a bad weekend compared to the first two rounds, finishing second and fourth on the two days. Thanks to Walker’s misfortune, Hart and FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb have inched closer in the championship standings with their performances this weekend, making it a three-way race for the title, with Hart and Webb sitting tied for second with 92 points each.
“I had to do something because Jonny was just kind of running away with it,” said Hart. “It was a big relief after winning the first moto. If anyone was watching, they could see it was a different Trystan. It was just a big weight off my shoulders, knowing that I could be one of the fast guys. After two fifth-place finishes in a row at Prescott, I was super depressed and just super down. I honestly felt like I could ride one lap really fast, at rounds 1 and 2. I felt like one of the fastest guys, but I just couldn’t put a race together. The first one especially. Then in the last moto I felt really good, but I just had some unfortunate crashes. But then we got a new suspension setting for this week, and I almost instantly knew that this weekend was going to be good.”
Webb was also happy with his performance, a third overall, and elevated status in the championship.
“It was a good weekend,” said Webb. “I feel like I didn’t quite have that aggressiveness tonight, but I had the consistency, and I put myself in the right place at the right time, and now I’m back in the hunt.”
Round 3 – Friday, October 27, 2023
Starts were all important during Round 3, with an extremely tight right-hander immediately following a short start straight. Hart was quick off the line in all three motos and finished off the night with a 1-2-1 moto score for first.
“I knew starts were going to be key,” said Hart. “That’s exactly what happened. I just got the holeshot, had a little bit of pressure from Cody and Jonny all night, but for the most part, I held a good gap for most of the races. I was just praying the lappers weren’t going to take me out. With just 38-second lap times, you get some of them twice. So, it’s a little chaotic, but I’m happy to get it done here.”
Starting in fourth in moto one, Walker was on the move and around Haaker and Webb for second in the first moto, but a fall in the matrix slowed his pace.
“I tried a few different lines trying to catch Trystan, said Walker. “I managed to come through good after very poor starts. In the second race, I jumped quickly into the lead, but ultimately went down in the matrix.”
Walker also went down in the third moto, but still came away with second overall for the night with a 2-4-3 score. “I came out of the rocks, but I was passing a lapper, and he was on the main line,” said Walker. “He jumped out and I went on the outside of him and then he just cut straight back across and ran me off the track and that’s when Cody went through.”
Webb benefitted from good starts, which he parlayed into a third overall with a 5-3-2.
“Every single moto had amazing battles tonight,” said Webb. “My starts were good on the 300 two-stroke, so happy about that. It’s probably the best starts I’ve had consistency. Three podiums so far this year. Just got to try and get on top.”
Despite several falls, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker was fourth on the night after going 4-1-5, although his win in the second moto was flag-to-flag.
“Everything that happened to me was my own doing,” said Haaker. “I was on the ground every moto on my own. All of them. I got in the lead once. I crashed, and then I went back to third. Then I got back into the lead after somebody else crashed. Ultimately, for whatever reason, I just didn’t put it together. I wasn’t confident in being smooth and riding my own race. I let the rest of it kind of get to me.”
Arizona GasGas rider Max Gerston came away with fifth overall with a 7-5-4 moto score.
“The first moto was a little tough, but in the second moto I was a little bit more patient during the first four laps,” said Gerston. “I just tried to keep moving forward and just tried to keep breathing. My goal was a top five coming into this year and we got one, so I’m ready to go do it again a few more times.”
Round 4 – Saturday, October 28, 2023
Saturday night’s racing saw three different winners—Hart, Webb, and Haaker—in addition to some paint swapping. Hart still took the overall win with a 1-2-2 moto tally.
“Tonight was crazy, for sure,” said Hart. “I won the first one, then Colton, then Cody. I had to make a clutch pass on the last lap to get the win on Colton in moto one, so I just shoved it up the inside. We hit. I think he fell. I asked him if it was dirty. He said it was all good, so we’re on good terms. Two in a row in two nights. What a way to get the season back on track.”
Haaker got revenge in moto two with a win of his own. “In the first moto, the first turn, my leg stuck to Taddy’s wheel,” said Haaker. “I was dead last. It was hard to pass, but there were a lot of mistakes to be made and luckily, guys were making them. So, you could be off just a little bit, like a couple inches off the other rider, and make a pass if they made a mistake.”
In the third moto, Haaker had a good start and came out of the first turn in second place, although he dropped back to third briefly. “I worked my way back into second after a crash,” said Haaker. “Then I got a nice little move from Trystan there that got me.”
After getting a second and a third in the first two motos, Webb flat ran away with the third moto.
“I ripped the holeshot on the smoker and never looked back,” said Webb. “Those guys were there pushing hard, and I looked back here and there and they were kind of getting hung up on each other, which allowed me to get away. All night, every single moto was super close. Tonight I just was able to run away with my own race. I almost had the overall, but Trystan did what he had to do and snagged it away from me. At least we got a positive outlook going into the next race.”
Although he still retains the point lead, Walker went 6-4-3 for fourth overall.
“Starts weren’t the best,” said Walker. “To make time on this track, I found it difficult tonight. I didn’t gel with the track from the off, but I did the best I could. I just couldn’t work the track out. I think with it being such a short track tonight, 30 seconds, there were just loads of people on the track. I got unlucky in the first one and the second one, but the other guys were riding good. Happy to move onto the next round.”
Fifth was Gerston for the second night in a row, with a 3-7-7.
“Coming off that top five last night, I just really wanted to back it up,” said Gerston. “I knew to do that I just needed to stay focused on the task at hand and not think about other riders, not think about anything else. Just focus on what’s in front of me. Focus on the next turn, the next thing. So I really made an effort to just stay focused tonight.”
In the EX Women’s Pro division, Over and Out Racing/GasGas’ Rachel Gutish swept the weekend, winning all four motos. Gutish used her technical skills to outdistance the field, and was the only rider in the class to do the finish line double. The final moto on Saturday was an exceptionally hectic race.
“I’ve been racing Endurocross since 2011 and I have never had a finish to any race like that,” said Gutish. “I think our entire class was in a 5×5 box at one point. I came around revved at the lapper, but she didn’t hear me, didn’t move. She hit it and blocked the last clean there was. So it was like, well, I got to take a not clean line and I didn’t make it. I knew Hallie was there, but I’m like, well, she can’t go anywhere either. So I saw out of the corner of my eye where she was going to try to go, but I was stuck. I was buried in that. So, I’m like, well, I’m just going to get off the obstacle, reenter the course behind where I left it, get a clean shot and jump over, into, or through whoever is in my way and get through. Luckily by the time I did that, the line had cleared. Hallie was still stuck. I made it through. Got the win. That was the craziest thing I think that has happened to me on two wheels, and you know my history. You know for me to say that, that really says something.”
Hallie Marks (Shr) and Mellisa Harten (Bet) swapped second and third over the two days.
Round 3 (10/27/23)
- Trystan Hart (KTM) 1-2-1
- Jonny Walker (Bet) 2-4-3
- Cody Webb (Shr) 5-3-2
- Colton Haaker (Hsq) 4-1-5
- Max Gerston (GG) 7-5-4
- Taddy Blazusiak (GG) 6-6-6
- Ryder LeBlond (Hsq) 3-11-8
- Cooper Abbott (Shr) 9-9-7
- Will Riordan (KTM) 8-10-10
- Dominik Olszowy (Rie) 10-13-9
Round 4 (10/28/23)
1. Trystan Hart (KTM) 1-2-2
2. Cody Webb (Shr) 2-3-1
3. Colton Haaker (Hsq) 4-1-4
4. Jonny Walker (Bet) 6-4-3
5. Max Gerston (GG) 3-7-7
6. Cooper Abbott (Shr) 5-8-6
7. Ryder LeBlond (Hsq) 10-6-5
8. Will Riordan (KTM) 9-5-8
9. Dominik Olszowy (Rie) 11-10-9
10. Taddy Blazusiak (GG) 7-9-15