After more than two hours of intense battle up front, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Colton Haaker had a tough break late in the race to come away with sixth-overall at the Bentonite Brawl in Billings, Montana. Serving as Round 2 of the AMA U.S. Hard Enduro Series, Sunday’s racing was nothing short of exciting as the series welcomes Haaker back for the first time this year.
On Saturday, riders underwent a prologue qualifying session that consisted of timed hill climb runs and head-to-head racing, with Haaker coming away in second overall. On Sunday, he lined up and immediately went to battle around the 30-mile loop, which showcased big hill climbs, lots of mud, and everything in between. Dicing back-and-forth with Trystan Hart for the early lead, Haaker settled into the top spot halfway into the race and the duo put a sizable gap on the rest of the field through the first two hours.
Unfortunately for Haaker, a mud hole section race wreaked havoc on his lead contention late in the race. Hart managed to squeak through, leaving Haaker with the aftermath in the sludge. After about 10 minutes of intense maneuvering, Haaker was able to break free but it wasn’t without damage to his bike from all the carnage. The multi-time enduro champion made his best efforts to salvage the remainder of the race, ultimately finishing sixth overall on the day.
“This is a really cool place, kind of crazy with a lot of hill climbs and I was just kind of holding the bike wide open and trying to get up some pretty gnarly stuff,” Haaker said. “Trystan and I were out front just riding together and going back-and-forth – I’d lead and he’d make a mistake, then he’d get in front and I’d make a mistake, etc. We got to a nasty mud gulley and he just barely got up it and yanked his bike out. It was dug just enough that I had nowhere to go and I tried getting up but it didn’t work, so I ended up just looping my bike and throwing a 180 trying to get it turned around and I broke the subframe doing it. I also lost a muffler at some point, so I had to come back and fix the muffler and everyone else had caught me – I was down like 10 minutes – and the bike just barely made it to the finish. I think I rode well but it sucks to come out here and have one obstacle ruin the race like that.”
Haaker missed the opening round of the series due to an illness but he looks to climb his way back into championship contention early in the season.
Husqvarna Motorcycles-mounted rider, Cory Graffunder, delivered a great result at Round 2, earning his first podium of the season in the Pro class. Additionally, Husqvarna Motorcycles-mounted Ryder Leblond finished just off the box in fourth overall.
For more information on the U.S. Hard Enduro Series, visit their website at www.ushardenduro.com.
Round 3: May 21-22 – Spragueville, Iowa
Overall Pro Results – Bentonite Brawl
1. Trystan Hart (KTM)
2. Cooper Abbott (SHR)
3. Cory Graffunder (HQV)
4. Ryder Leblond (HQV)
6. Colton Haaker – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
7. Daniel Lewis (HQV)