Trystan Hart Wins First EnduroCross Championship at Nevada finale as Jonny Walker misses out – Race Report
FMF/KTM Factory rider Trystan Hart entered the sixth and final round of the IRC Tire EnduroCross Series presented by Progressive in Reno, Nevada’s Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center, sitting in second place in the series standings, seven points behind defending champion factory Beta rider Jonny Walker of Great Britain. However, the odds were against him.
Race Report and Images by EnduroCross
Even if Hart won all three motos, he would need help to top Walker for the title. Another rider would have to finish between Hart and Walker for Hart to cash in enough points to chips to win the championship.
That was just the start. The math got even more complicated as the evening progressed.
To kick off the evening, Walker posted the fastest time during the Hot Lap qualifying session. Hart, who had won rounds 3 and 4, was fourth-fastest. Walker came into the finale holding a seven-point lead over Hart, with Haaker another five points behind, making for a similar situation as last year, where the championship came down to the final round.
To win the title, Hart needed to win the round and get help from another rider, who needed to get between Hart and Walker.
When the first moto kicked off, it was Haaker who quickly moved to the front and comfortably held the position to the finish. After a top-five start, Hart was able to work his way into second behind Haaker by the finish, although a lapper kept him from a chance at the lead.
Walker, who wasn’t as lucky on the start, rode a brilliant race from mid-pack to finish third.
Moto two, which uses an inverted start, where the top finishers in moto one get the last gate picks, saw RPM Racing’s Angus Riordan get the start. FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb quickly moved through the pack to take the lead, with Hart and Haaker in tow. Haaker got around Hart in the matrix section and set out after Webb, taking over second when Webb bobbled. Hart settled into third, but a crash sent him to the back of the pack, although he still managed to work back up into third. The moto finished with Haaker taking another win, followed by Webb, Hart and Angus Riordan. Meanwhile, after some bad luck, Walker could only muster a seventh, setting up a winner-take-all scenario in the final moto.
FactoryONE Sherco’s Cooper Abbott squeezed through the first turn in the final moto to grab the early lead, followed by the rest of the contenders, Hart, Haaker and Walker. At the finish, only 20 seconds separated the top four riders: Hart in first, Abbott in second, Webb in third, and Walker in fourth.
In the end, Hart went 2-3-1 to claim the overall for the weekend and clinch his first AMA Endurocross title – adding to his 2023 AMA U.S. Hard Enduro Championship he earned in June.
“I needed a little help as far as points to win the title,” said Hart. “But after the first two motos it got a little complicated and I was trying to figure in my head.”
After a slow start to the season, Hart felt almost certain he was out of contention for the title.
“Honestly, at the start of the year, I got two fifths, and winning a championship wasn’t even really in the equation,” said Hart. “Then I really picked my socks up and got two wins and a second. Then coming here, it was still not easy because I needed someone in between me and Jonny. So, it was not going to be easy. But the whole night didn’t go the way I thought. I thought I was going to do a little more winning. The first one I lost on the last lap because of a lapper. Then the second one, I went into third on the first lap from the second row, crashed, and went back to last. In that last one, I didn’t know. The math was so confusing. I just knew that I had to be near the front and Jonny couldn’t be close to me, and there was a chance I was going to win. I honestly didn’t even know I won. My mechanic was cheering and I just started doing a burnout. I’m like, surely I won. The gods wouldn’t have done this to me.”
The Reno round was a wicked twist of fate for Walker, who came into last year’s finale trailing Hart in the title chase and wound up winning it all; a juxtaposition to this year.
“I came in with a seven-point lead,” said Walker. “I knew I had to finish third to win the championship. The first race was good, I finished third. In the second race, just had a bit of a nightmare. A few things went wrong, and I ended up seventh. That’s what kind of threw it away. I got a good start and I was like, oh sweet, we’re on for it now. I knew I just had to beat Cooper Abbott and Cody, and I was in front of them. Then I went into the pipes and went over the handlebars, which was the worst thing I could have done. Jumped straight in, straight over the handlebars. I was like, oh no. But it’s racing. We’ve done what we could. It’s difficult to come over here. Obviously, I’m not happy with second. You don’t want to be second. But it’s racing. I did exactly the same to Trystan last year. I came in, points down, managed to beat him on the night and take the championship. So, it’s the same again.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Colton Haaker was second on the night and until late in the final moto, appeared to be on his way to a sweep of the program after winning the first two motos.
“I won the second moto despite screwing up in the pipes; we all got super tangled up in there. It was pretty chaotic.,” said Haaker. “I didn’t go down, but I was stuck behind Trystan and Jonny and everybody else. It was pretty crazy. The last moto, we were just training out there. It was just five guys all together. It was a good night, but I would have liked to have won, but it is what it is. But the last moto, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time a couple too many times. So, I think I was actually making good moves and doing my thing, but just at the wrong place, wrong time.”
FactoryONE Sherco’s Cooper Abbott turned in his best performance of the season, with a third overall for the night after a 5-5-2 performance and leading half of the final moto.
“I felt like I got definitely better each moto,” said Abbott. “In that third moto, I think I got around Trystan on lap two or three and then I led until a lap to go. I made a little mistake and he got around me. He was riding really well. That’s how I was riding coming into the year and how I felt practicing, and I just wasn’t able to translate it to the race. Better late than never at least with that last moto. Hopefully, next year we’ll bring that intensity and speed into next season.”
FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb pulled away from the pack in moto two and appeared to be on his way to an easy moto win until just before the white flag lap.
“I made a really bad lap two laps from the finish,” said Webb. “I dug a big hole that first moto and just ghost-rode my bike to the sky. I felt like Ricky Bobby throwing around. I don’t know where I was. So I had to come back from dead last and just pick them off. Then I finished second and third and almost won the second moto. Almost got Cooper at the end of that last moto, but I was happy for him to get a podium and end out of the season.”
Webb was 8-2-3 for fourth, just ahead of Walker’s 3-7-4.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ryder LeBlond was 4-8-5 for sixth overall.
“There were a couple guys who could win the championship, and I wasn’t one of them, unfortunately,” joked LeBlond. “But it was cool. I was in the battle. I tried to not really screw anyone over too bad and just be smart about everything. I was in position where I felt like I could have passed some guys that last moto, but I was like, they’re fighting for a championship. I didn’t really know what to do. I probably should have just tried passing some of them and let it go, but it was good. It was cool.”
RPM Racing’s Will Riordan went 6-9-7 for seventh overall, while German Dominik Olszowy (Rieju) posted a 9-6-9 score for eighth.
A 7-11-8 moto tally put Arizona GasGas rider Max Gerston into ninth, ahead of RPM Racing’s Angus Riordan who finished fourth in the second moto. He added a 13th and an 11th to round out the top 10.
The final championship standings went Hart in first with 147 points; Walker second with 140, and Haaker third with 137 points.
Over and Out Racing/GasGas’ Rachel Gutish was tops in the EX Women’s Pro division, winning the main event and the Women’s Championship. Gutish was also part of the US team that won the Women’s Trophy division at the ISDE in Argentina.
“It’s just been an amazing season all the way around for me,” said Gutish. “My first endurocross win was ten years ago and it took me this long to finally get my title. It’s something I’ve worked for off and on for years and years and years now. So to finally reach the moment I’ve dreamed of, feels pretty damn good.”
Second place went to Mellisa Harten (Bet), who led at one point in the race, while third was Hallie Marks (Sherco).
RENO EX PRO CLASS OVERALL RESULTS
1. Trystan Hart, KTM, 2-3-1
2. Colton Haaker, Hsq, 1-1-6
3. Cooper Abbott, Sherco, 5-5-2
4. Cody Webb, Sherco, 8-2-3
5. Jonny Walker, Beta, 3-7-4
6. Ryder LeBlond, Hsq, 4-8-5
7. Will Riordan, KTM, 6-9-7
8. Dominik Olszowy, Rieju, 9-6-9
9. Max Gerston, GasGas, 7-11-8
10. Angus Riordan, KTM, 13-4-11
Final Championship Standings
1. Trystan Hart, 147 points
2. Jonny Walker, 140
3. Colton Haaker, 137