Team USA Podiums at 86th International Six Days Enduro

Aug. 17, 2011 By Mark Kariya
Kurt Caselli celebrates not only his E2 final moto victory on Day Six, but the class win and the U.S. World Trophy team’s third-place finish.

Finland first won the International Six Days Enduro when it hosted the event for the first time in 1996. Since that initial victory, the Finns have proven it wasn’t a fluke, winning the FIM World Trophy seven times since--eight now, counting the dominating performance at the 86th ISDE held for only the second time in Finland, this time in coastal, southeastern Kotka.
 
No one exemplifies the never-say-die attitude better than Jeff Fredette. After an airline snafu left him without his gear and spare parts until the night before the race, he had to do a quick Rekluse clutch install in the work period before the start. Unfortunately, that left him with no time to check his work and when he got the signal to start his bike, it started but wouldn’t go into gear so he had to push it beyond the start area and fix it (with no outside assistance). Naturally, that cost him some time; he made some of it up but not all and ended up finishing on bronze medal status. Still it kept alive his streak of always finishing Six Days, and he now has a record-stretching 31 to his credit.

From the very first special test, the Finns set the pace, one that no other team--and only a few individuals--could match. One of those individuals was Team USA’s Kurt Caselli, who would win several tests outright and top the E2 (Enduro 2 for 250cc two-strokes and 450cc four-strokes) class in leading the Americans to third place behind Finland and Spain.
 
“Actually, I’m real happy with the results,” he insisted after winning the final E2 motocross test on the last day to seal his bid for a second career class triumph (following his E3 [500cc two-stroke/650cc four-stroke] win in Greece in 2009). “We came here with a goal of just getting on the podium, which is usually always the first goal--just do as good as you can, but if you can be on the podium, that’s good--and I think all of us are real happy with how it turned out.”
 
Fred Hoess is another Six Days veteran. In his 22nd ISDE, he earned his 15th gold medal (the only American Club rider to finish on gold) and was the top American in the C1 division at sixth place. Here, he speeds through a clearing in the Salpalinja Line of large rocks that the Finns placed in World War Two as anti-tank barriers that, in conjunction with a network of trenches and bunkers, were built to thwart attacks from the east. It apparently worked better than planned since no enemy ever attempted to breach them.

Teammate Destry Abbott agreed, saying, “It’s nice to get on the podium again. This is our [group’s] second time, and I’m happy to pull that off. Personally, I started really well—I was running top 20 overall--and the rain just killed me; it was really tough. It was definitely, I’d rate it one of the tougher Six Days I’ve done.”  

In his first assignment to the U.S. World Trophy team, Russell Bobbitt stepped up his game big-time. Riding the same spec 2011 KTM 250 XC that he’s relied on to win four rounds and lead the AMA/Rekluse National Enduro Championship Series, he was the second American in E2 behind Caselli at seventh in class and 16th overall individual at week’s end.

Indeed, survival counted as highly as speed at this one, and Americans demonstrated the ability to deal with adversity well. Though the overall rate of non-finishers was 28 percent, only 14 percent of the 28 Americans who started failed to finish. (Unfortunately, all three Americans of the Women’s World Trophy team DNFed, leaving France the winner in both that category and the Junior World Trophy class.) It bodes well for next year’s ISDE in Germany.

Finland’s World Trophy team celebrates at the top of the podium with Spain in second and the U.S. in third.

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