US Trophy Team back to 2nd after Day 5

US Wellard club team rider Ryan Sipes at the "Bardahl" special test on Day-five.

US Wellard club team rider Ryan Sipes at the “Bardahl” special test on Day-five.

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by Steve Berkner

With five days, 1125 kilometers and 30 special tests behind them, the U.S. World Trophy Team sits poised to finish second place in the 2013 ISDE, the international off-road motorcycle racing competition that tests the endurance of both rider and motorcycle.

Not since 1982 has the U.S. Trophy Team finished higher than third place at Six Days, and this year they sit just 48 kilometers and a six-lap final motocross test away of equaling that accomplishment.

“It has been a long week and right now we only have one thing on our minds and that is making it to the final motocross special test,” said U.S. ISDE Team Manager Antti Kallonen. “Our goal this year was to hit the ground running and be as consistent on Day 1 and Day 2 as we’ve proven in the past that we can be on Days 3, 4, 5 and 6. We only race the Six Days format once a year. [Historically,] we start slow a little slow and struggle to work our way up from there.

“Of course, we have enough of a cushion [France sits in the lead 14 minutes, 20 seconds ahead of the U.S. team with the host country Italy in third 3 minutes, 40 seconds behind the Americans] that as long as we have five guys finish the final moto, we have second place.”

Kallonen says there’s an outside chance the U.S. could move into the lead.

“As far as catching France goes, they would have to have two riders have trouble finishing the final moto,” he says. “It doesn’t happen that often, but over the years it has. Of course, the same thing could happen to us and we could lose second place, but all of our riders are healthy and their motorcycles are running strong.”

Day 5 of this year’s ISDE didn’t come without its own drama for at least one of the six rider U.S. Trophy Team riders as Charlie Mullins struggled to advance even half way through the day with out significant problems.

“When I finished the first test, we noticed I was missing six [front] spokes, but we didn’t have any time to fix it,” Mullins says. “Then by the end of the next test, I was missing two more, but I had to make it to the next check before I could make any repairs.

“There I used all of my [allotted time to start the needed repairs] and actually had to push my bike through the check with the tire half off the rim so I could finish it on the other side of the check,” he says.

Mullins says that it was a close call.

“I think I went through [the check] with just 2 seconds to spare,” he says. “My day seemed to go down hill from there [as that repair] seemed to take away all of my focus. Then I crashed pretty hard in the next test, and it felt like it was all I could do to make it to the finish, but I made it through the day.”

Kallonen said that Mullins’ effort was significant. Mullins finished the day 10th in the E3 class which dropped one position in the overall going from eighth to ninth.

“Today Charlie put in a very hard day,” Kallonen says. “I have a lot of personal respect for him as he did what he had to do to stay competitive and make it to the end of the day.”

While Mullins struggled to get through his penultimate day of this year’s Six Days, his teammate Taylor Robert finished the day still in fifth place overall.

“Being top American is kind of cool, but it doesn’t mean that much to me if we don’t make the podium,” Robert says. “Right now, we’re focused on finishing Day 6 and making it to the final moto. Barring any type of disaster, we should be able to finish in second. My personal goal right now is to win my final moto.”

Joining Mullins and Robert on the U.S. Trophy Team are Kurt Caselli, Zach Osborne and Thad Duvall.

The U.S. Junior Team, made up of riders Kailub Russell, Andrew Delong, Jesse Groemm and Grant Baylor, sits in fourth place overall, where they have finished all week other than Day 3’s third-place finish. France, Italy and Great Britain are first, second and third in that division.

The U.S. Women’s World Trophy Team, represented by Mandi Mastin, Rachel Gutish and Brooke Hodges, is in sixth place.

The U.S. Wellard club team is in second place, led by the efforts of Ryan Sipes who is leading the overall C2 class. He is joined by Nick Fahringer and Jimmy Jarrett.

Only one of the original 31 American rider’s that started the event on Monday, Ryan Kudla, has retired.

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