The Grassman National in Chandlersville, Ohio, reminded competitors that trail conditions can drastically change when rain soaks the course leading up to the race. Despite slippery conditions, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Craig DeLong scored his best finish of the season with second overall at Round 6 of the AMA National Enduro Series. Teammates Trevor Bollinger and Thad DuVall both returned to competition after recovering from injury, with Bollinger clinching a podium finish and DuVall capturing a top-10 result.
DeLong headed into the woods at 10:37 a.m. after a weather delay and a reduction to the day’s scheduled tests. Much to his surprise, the trail conditions were not too bad. He ended the section in fourth. In Test 2, conditions were a little worse but he had a smooth ride and was able to keep a strong pace to score second by the end of the 10-mile-long section. DeLong was gaining momentum as the day progressed and was able to claim the win in Test 3. In the next test, he was able to put in another consistent ride to grab fourth. However, a pop-up thunderstorm presented additional struggles in the final test. DeLong battled to see the arrows on the trail with the rain and hail, temporarily getting lost and having to re-trace his path. He was able to score fifth overall and third in his class through the final section. He claimed second overall on the day and tallied his fourth-consecutive top-five finish.
“I rode smooth and steady all day, stayed off the ground and enjoyed all the conditions,” DeLong said. “I was able to put in a couple good tests and stay up front with the leaders, so I’m happy to end up second overall.”
After missing the last two races due to a broken hand suffered at a GNCC earlier this year, Bollinger entered the first test with caution, but rode smart throughout the four-mile course to score third. Bollinger was rolling in Test 2 until an encounter with a tree left him with a broken handguard that affected his clutch and slowed him down. He had to settle for fifth through the section. In the next test, he piloted his FX 350 to a third-place result, less than five seconds behind teammate Delong who took the test win. Bollinger continued his vigorous pace in Test 4 to clinch yet another third-place finish. In the final test, he encountered torrential rain and hail to take seventh overall and fourth in NE Pro1 to finish the day in third overall, his best finish of the year.
“The first test started out pretty good, and then I made some mistakes in the second test,” Bollinger said. “After that, we rode pretty consistently all day and ended up third overall, so it was a good day for me.”
Easing into his first race back, DuVall rode cautiously in the first section to finish seventh. Gaining a little bit of comfort, he was able to pick up his pace and secure fourth in the second section. The third test presented challenges for DuVall, as he struggled with handguard issues in the 6-mile section. He ended the test with 10th overall and ninth in NE Pro1. In Test 4, he was able to put in a clean ride to claim eighth in the 5.5-mile section. DuVall endured rain and hail in the last 6.5-mile section, falling once and then getting stuck behind a few riders. He also lost his goggles, resulting in vision struggles. He ultimately finished 17th overall through the test and ninth in his class. He took 10th overall and ninth in NE Pro1 when the day completed.
“It was good to get back to racing,” DuVall said. “I had a fun day on the FX 350. It’s just been a while since I’ve been able to race. Coming back from injury, especially this injury, I’m excited to have that racing feeling and have those butterflies and nerves. A little timid, but I’m just going to get better.”
Round 7: Loose Moose National – September 18 – Marquette, Michigan
Grassman National – Results
NE Pro1 Class
1. Grant Baylor (GAS)
2. Craig DeLong – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
3. Trevor Bollinger – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
9. Thad DuVall – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing