Photo Courtesy of Geico AMA Endurocross Series

With two wins last season, including a win at the final round of the series, American Beta/GEICO/Stillwell Performance’s Cody Webb had to be considered a solid contender for the  the 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series, fueled by Monster Energy and presented by Lucas Oil, championship. When the series kicked off Friday night inside Las Vegas’ Orleans Arena, Webb validated the promise that many series fans and insiders had placed in him by grabbing his first win of the eight-round series.

Webb was fast right from the start on the Orleans Arena track, grabbing the second heat race win win. Five-time and reigning GEICO AMA EnduroCross Champion Taddy Blazusiak was also on his game, having won the opening heat race ahead of Bel-Ray/FMF/Moose/Husqvarna’s Mike Brown, who was also expected to be a contender for the Pro Main Event win. The 2013 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series runner-up, Brown had topped qualifying aboard his new Husqvarna FE350, but he smashed his left pinky finger on a barrel in the first turn of heat one, suffering multiple lacerations to the finger. Brown soldiered on to finish second in the heat race and qualified for the main. Lucas Oil/Rockstar/JCR Honda’s Colton Haaker won heat three.

Expert Pro Main
In the Expert Pro Main Event, Brown snared the $500 NEXEN Tire Holeshot award with a clean jump off the unique elevated starting line, leading the rest of the field into the tight first turn on the Orleans Arena floor. However, Webb quickly move into the lead as the tight pack of front-runners jockeyed for position on the opening lap. Haaker, Blazusiak, CYCLENANO/Everrev/FMF/Kenda’s Kyle Redmond and KTM rider Gary Sutherlin all ran near the front, making for an exciting battle for the podium positions early in the race. Webb, five-time and reigning GEICO AMA EnduroCross Champion Blazusiak and Kyle Redmond were the top three after the opening lap, but Redmond’s KTM suffered a mechanical that ended his race early. Brown, too, was forced to pull off the track due to his damaged finger, ending his race evening as well. Brown was credited with 11th, Redmond with 13th.

The stage was set for a showdown between heat-race winners Webb, Blazusiak and Haaker. Webb kept his head down and put together nearly flawless laps. Haaker passed Blazusiak on lap two after a rare mistake by the series champion, but by the end of lap three, Blazusiak had moved back around Haaker after the Honda rider bobbled in a tricky rock turn. Sutherlin ran in fourth placek, within striking distance of a podium spot.

Halfway through the 12-lap main event, Blazusiak ran into trouble in the rock corner while dealing with lapped riders, allowing the hard-charging Haaker to retake second place. That standing didn’t last long as Blazusiak moved back into second and appeared well set to keep the spot to the finish.

Meanwhile, Webb moved steadily forward, lapping up to fourth place by lap nine. Webb would go on unchallenged for the lead for the rest of the way, earning the first Pro Main Event win of the young 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross season.

“I only made a few mistakes the whole main event” Webb said. “I have been practicing just racing the track at home, and when I passed Taddy on the first lap, I just focused on the track for six laps and did not even know how much of a lead I had.”

Haaker gained on Blazusiak in the late stages of the race, and he was there to pounce when Blazusiak stalled and crashed in a challenging rock corner after trying to get around lapped-traffic. Haaker finished second.

“I won in Las Vegas a few years ago and I did not even know how I won so this second feels better because I have been working really hard to get everything dialed in on that big 450,” Haaker said.

Blazusiak recovered to finish third, with fellow KTM riders Bobby Prachnau and Taylor Robert completing the top five. In fact, KTM riders dominated the top 10, as Geoff Aaron, Sutherlin, Cory Graffunder and Bryan Roper were all KTM-mounted. Jamie Lanza was the sole top-10 finisher on a Husqvarna.

“The start was amazing,” Blazusiak said. “I went into the tunnel way back and somehow came out in first. I think Brownie went down. Third was an okay way to start the season because I think we are going to have to be consistent to win the championship.”

The action-packed Women’s class also provided tough competition, as defending champion Chantelle Bykerk looked to continue her championship ways with a first-round win. X Games medalist Tarah Geiger grabbing the holeshot, but Factory FMF/KTM’s Kacy Martinez moved into the lead on the first lap before being passed by Shelby Turner before the lap was complete. Also pushing the pace was Morgan Tanke.

Bykerk had a tough start and spent the main event trying to work through the pack, while Geiger fell out of the top three on lap two. The rest of the race had the top three battle back and forth. Martinez made a last-lap pass in the tricky rocks before the finish line to grab the win. Turner was second, and Tanke was third.

“This is my first EnduroCross main event win after trying for so many years,” Martinez said. “I have been racing the GNCC’s and the first two were mud races so that really helped me in the slick track.”

Rounding out the first race’s night show was a host of support classes for amateur, veteran and trials competitors. The Vet Class win went to defending champion Kurt Nicoll, second was Josh Adams and third was Colby Begin. The Trialscross win went to Australian Jack Field (2013’s champion) who pulled another finish-line backflip after his win. Second place went to Michael Salsman and third went to Teren Gerber. The Open Amateur winner for round one was Ty Cullins with Noah Kepple moving into second overall and Austin Schiermeister rounding out the top three in the main event.

The next round of GEICO AMA EnduroCross is scheduled for June 6 as the series heads to the X Games in Austin, Texas, followed by the third round in Sacramento, California on June 21. The 2014 schedule will see two new rounds of racing held in Atlanta, Georgia, and Salt Lake City, Utah, as the cities host their first EnduroCross events. The traditional EnduroCross finals in November will now be held Nov. 22 in Ontario, California.

GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series, Fueled by Monster Energy and presented by Lucas Oil
Orleans Arena
Las Vegas, Nevada
Results: May 2, 2014 (Round 1 of 8)

Expert Pro Main Event
1. Cody Webb-Bet
2. Colton Haaker-Hon
3. Taddy Blazusiak-KTM
4. Bobby Prochnau-KTM
5. Taylor Robert-KTM
6. Geoff Aaron-KTM
7. Gary Sutherlin-KTM
8. Cory Graffunder-KTM
9. Bryan Roper-KTM
10. Jamie Lanza-Hus

GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series Points Standings (After 1 of 8 rounds)
1. Cody Webb-26/1 win
2. Colton Haaker-24
3. Taddy Blazusiak-21
4. Bobby Prochnau-18
5. Taylor Robert-16
6. Geoff Aaron-15
7. Gary Sutherlin-14
8. Cory Graffunder-13
9. Bryan Roper-12
10. Jamie Lanza-11

Women Main Event
1. Kacy Martinez-KTM
2. Shelby Turner-KTM
3. Morgan Tanke-KTM
4. Rachel Gutish-Yam
5. Lexi Pechout-She
6. Chantelle Bykerk-KTM
7. Tarah Geiger-KTM
8. Melissa Harten-Gas
9. Rily Ellinger-KTM
10. Jessica Patterson-Yam

Women Class Standings
1. Kacy Martinez-25/1 win
2. Shelby Turner-22
3. Morgan Tanke-20
4. Rachel Gutish-18
5. Lexi Pechout-16
6. Chantelle Bykerk-15
7. Tarah Geiger-14
8. Melissa Harten-13
9. Rily Ellinger-12
10. Jessica Patterson-11

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