Cody Webb Wins 2014 GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship
Beta USA factory racer Cody Webb took the GEICO AMA EnduroCross #1 plate from five-time champion Red Bull KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak after a season-long battle that included Lucas Oil Honda rider Colton Haaker at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
With scant points separating the top three EnduroCross competitors much of the year, Webb eked out a 13-point lead coming into the final round thanks to podium finishes at the eight previous rounds. All Webb needed to clinch the title was a ninth podium.
Webb and Blazusiak breezed to qualifying Heat wins, with Webb lapping nearly everyone on the track. Haaker transferred easily, finishing second in his heat to FMF/KTM Team’s Robert Taylor, the only rider other than the top three to secure a win in 2014.
With the Championship on the line, the Main was unexpectedly tame. Blazusiak grabbed a holeshot and never looked back. Haaker kept Blazusiak honest, getting close when lappers were passed, but it was Blazusiak’s race from gate drop to the checkered flag, despite going down in The Matrix when tangling with a lapper on the final lap.
For most of the race, Haaker enjoyed a comfortable lead over Webb, who was primarily concerned with running a clean race and staying out of trouble. However, on Lap 12 of the 15-lap race, Haaker went down, putting Webb in the runner-up spot, which secured the 2014 Championship.
At the end, Balzusiak took the win by over six seconds ahead of Webb, with Haaker another 12 seconds back. Only Taylor was on the same lap as the three podium finishers, 30 seconds behind Blazusiak.
“I felt great in the main event as soon as I got off the line,” Webb said afterward. “Luckily, everyone pushed wide and once I got in my position I knew I was comfortable enough to push up front and not have to worry about losing valuable points. I wasn’t worried about the rocks. I was worried about everyone around me. It was a great season and a great night. I couldn’t be any happier.”
It was Webb’s final ride on a Beta, as he will be moving to Red Bull KTM for 2015.
The real drama of the evening was in the Women’s class. There, four riders had a shot at the 2014 title. Defending Champion Chantelle Bykerk had a five-point advantage over Morgan Tanke, as well as an 11-point cushion over Rachel Gutish, and 12-points ahead of Lexi Pechout.
Bykerk went down in the first corner, and Tanke took the lead. However, the Ontario course was treacherous, with almost none of the women able to negotiate The Matrix cleanly, despite a couple of helper pallets. Tanke dropped to fifth by the end of the first lap, one spot behind Gutish and two ahead of Bykerk. Pechout made her way to third behind Shelby Turner and Sandra Gomez Cantero — two fast riders who had not contested the entire series.
While Turner and Cantero swapped the lead, Pechout settled into 3rd followed by Gutish, Tanke, and Bykerk.
The race took an unexpected turn on the last logs of The Matrix, just before the final turn of the race. With Pechout 14 seconds behind, Turner went down and took Cantero with her. While the two struggled to get going again, Pechout slipped by and took the win by almost 10 seconds over Cantero, with Turner rounding out the podium. Gutish held onto 4th, one spot (and almost 50 seconds) ahead of Tanke, with Bykerk fading to 8th.
After a dramatic checking and double-checking of the points, Pechout moved from 4th in the standings to first, taking the 2014 Endurocross Women’s Championship by a single point over Bykerk. Tanke was three points back of Pechout, giving her third overall in the series. Gutish finished fourth for the year.
Bykerk, Tanke, and Gutish all struggled in the final two rounds, with none of the three taking a single podium spot. At the same time, Pechout won the final two rounds, giving her an epic come-from-behind Championship win.
In the Trialcross class, 15-year-old Ty Cullins took the 2014 Championship, leading all four laps, despite going down in the first turn. Cullins also raced in the Open Amateur class, and went down in the first turn in that race. He remounted and worked his way up to a podium spot behind Austin Schiermeister and winner Cooper Abbott. Cullins was unable to celebrate on the podium, as he broke a finger in the race and was hustled off for treatment.
Steven Foord took the win and the Championship in the Vet Plus 35 class. He did it with a come from behind effort, passing Josh Adams on the third lap for the lead. Josh Buell finished second in the race, one position ahead of Jason Gitchel.
The 2015 GEICO AMA EnduroCross season opens on March 6 at Ocean Center in Daytona Beach during Bike Week.
Photography by Don Williams
GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series Results, Round 9
1. Taddy Blazusiak, KTM
2. Cody Webb, Beta
3. Colton Haaker, Honda
4. Taylor Robert, KTM
5. Geoff Aaron, KTM
1. Lexi Pechout, Sherco
2. Sandra Gomez Cantero, KTM
3. Shelby Turner, KTM
4. Rachel Gutish, KTM
5. Morgan Tanke, KTM
1. Cooper Abbott, Kawasaki
2. Austin Schiermeister, Honda
3. Ty Cullins, Beta
4. Val Rehrl, Beta
5. Stephen Foord, Gas Gas
Vet Plus 35
1. Stephen Foord, Gas Gas
2. Josh Buell, Yamaha
3. Jason Gitchel, KTM
4. Eric Bailey, KTM
5. Jonathan Levey, KTM
1. Ty Cullins, Beta
2. Harrison Oswald, JTG
3. Emanuel Angius, Gas Gas
4. Michael Salsman, Gas Gas
5. Jason Gitchel, Beta
Final 2014 AMA Geico Endurocross Series Standings
1. Cody Webb, 214 points
2. Taddy Blazusiak, -12
3. Colton Haaker, -16
4. Taylor Robert, -38
5. Max Gerston, -92
1. Lexi Pechout, 145 points
2. Chantelle Bykerk, -1
3. Morgan Tanke, -3
4. Rachel Gutish, -7
5. Melissa Harten, -23