US Trophy Team celebrates second place finish

Second-place finishing U.S. Trophy Team riders. Front row (L-R): Zach Osborne, Charlie Mullins, Mike Brown. Second row (L-R): Kurt Caselli, Taylor Robert, Thad Duvall.

Second-place finishing U.S. Trophy Team riders. Front row (L-R): Zach Osborne, Charlie Mullins, Mike Brown. Second row (L-R): Kurt Caselli, Taylor Robert, Thad Duvall.

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by Steve Berkner

For the first time in more than three decades, the U.S. Trophy Team finished second in the Italian-hosted International Six Days Enduro. It ties the best finish the U.S. riders have ever had at the FIM World Championship event. The last time the United States did this well was in Czechoslovakia in 1982.

Finishing in front of the U.S. Trophy Team was France, which dominated the ISDE, winning each day while accumulating a score more than 13 minutes better than that of the second-place American team. The U.S. riders finished 4 minutes ahead of Italy.

”It has been an excellent week,” says U.S. Team Manager Antti Kallonen. “Everybody gave their all and contributed to the overall result. It was nice to see both [U.S. Trophy Team riders] Zach [Osborne, who rode E1] and Mike [Brown, who rode E2] win their final motos.

“We had real good results in the E2 class final moto as well with Charlie Mullins, Kurt Caselli and Taylor Robert all having strong finishes,” he says, adding that the remaining U.S. World Trophy Team rider, Thad Duvall, finished fifth in his final E1 moto.

“It has been long overdue for the United States to finish this high in the result,” Kallonen says. “Finishing second is a good stepping stone to eventually winning the overall so we still have one step to go. We are still hungry for our first Trophy Team victory, so when we get back home we will start preparing for next year’s Six Days in Argentina.”

US Trophy Team Captain Caselli was also pleased with the result.

“This was really a good Six Days from start to finish,” Caselli says. “It didn’t come without its share of problems, but it sure feels good to get to the final moto with everybody intact, with all of the bikes running. It was a bonus seeing Zach and Mike win their final motos as well.”

The U.S. Junior Team of Kailub Russell, Andrew Delong, Jesse Groemm and Grant Baylor, finished this year’s Six Days in fourth place after the team started Day 1 in third.

“The Juniors had their share of problems, but fourth for this group of riders, with two riding their first Six Days ever, is still respectable,” Kallonen says.

The Junior classification was won by France, followed by Italy and Great Britain.

In the three-rider club team division, the United States placed two teams in the top five with the Wellard Team, made up of Ryan Sipes, Jimmy Jarrett and Nick Fahringer, finishing second. The Team, whose roster included riders Ian Blythe, Alex Dorsey and Justin Sode, finished in fourth place just 3.26 seconds behind third.

“Those teams did an excellent job, especially the Wellard team,” Kallonen says. “We expected them to do well, but we didn’t expect there to be so much competition in the club team division as Italy [which hosted the event] had over 30 teams in the club team category and some of those teams had former world champions on them, so our Wellard team did very, very well considering those circumstances.”

The U.S. Women’s World Trophy Team finished sixth in its division, with all three of their riders finishing the event. For U.S. Women’s team rider Rachel Gutish, it was a chance to “redeem herself” after a DNF in last year’s German ISDE.

“I just had to come back and finish a Six Days,” Gutish says. “Last year I had a real bad leg injury, with a bruised bone and a very deep hematoma from my knee to my thigh. In the mornings, I could barely push my bike up the start ramp. Eventually I had to drop out. This year when I’d run into problems, I thought to myself ‘what would Nicole Bradford do?’ and it worked.”

Bradford rode on the American Women’s Trophy Team from 2007 to 2011.

Notably, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Jeff “Mr. Six Days” Fredette finished his 33rd Six Days. All of his finishes have come without a single DNF. It’s a Six Days record. Fredette, who is 54 years old and rode his first Six Days in 1978 said, “I’d have to say that in all of my Six Days, this year is the highlight of them all. Not so much how I did but how the team did.

“It just brings tears to my eyes to see how far we’ve come where we’re now one step away from winning the overall,” he adds. “We win two of the three final motos, two of our club teams finish second and fourth. You look around and you see all of the organization and preparation that goes into producing these results for the U.S. Team, and it’s just awesome.”

Of the 31 American riders that started the Italian ISDE only one, Ryan Kudlac, didn’t finish due to an injury that he suffered before the race started that caused him to retire after Day 1.

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