KTM/RPM racing member Cody Webb has taken out the fifth AMA Kenda Tire Tennessee Knockout. The race is quickly becoming renowned as the most difficult and extreme off-road race in America.
Story by Hayden Gregory
The event held at Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee, featured an array of the top off-road racers in the world including Great Britain’s Jonny Walker.
It was Walkers battle with American Cody Webb that had everyone talking throughout the day. The two fought a constant tussle which eventually saw Webb wear down Walker with a few laps to go, opening up a small gap and securing his third consecutive win at the event.
“It was an unreal feeling to get my third straight TKO victory in a row,” explained Webb. “The competition was at a whole new level this year with Jonny joining the field of competitors. Timed qualifying went very well when I posted the fastest time. The following knockout rounds were not perfect but I did what I had to do and qualified on the front row. I was able to run away to a nice cushion in the main event and make it three years in a row. I was nervous coming into the weekend after recently getting surgery to repair both feet, but with the help of my team and the people around me, we were able to get the victory.”
The Kenda Tennessee Knockout exhibits a unique format which sees riders narrowed down from a 55 rider field over four rounds. The first round is a mile hot lap which Webb won with a 3:41 lap time. KTM’s Taylor Robert finished second whilst Walker rounded out the top three.
The second round involved a 14 mile off-road loop against the clock. This was a knockout round with riders taking off at 30 second intervals. Eventual winner Webb was caught by surprise as he was physically passed by Robert who extended to a 31 second gap at the end of the round. Walker also managed a faster time than Webb, finishing 25 seconds behind Robert. Only the top 25 riders progressed through to the second knockout round.
Riders were placed in to five groups of five riders. The top three from each group would earn a spot in the final round. The knockout used the same long loop but extra difficult sections were added meaning an increased lap time. Robert finished once again as the fastest rider while Walker and Webb also won their respective groups.
The final round saw a return to the short course for a 30 minute plus one lap race. As the riders launched it was Walker who had an aggressive start taking the lead from the first turn. Robert and Webb followed closely until Robert got stuck on a hill pushing him deep back into the pack. What followed was an epic battle between Webb and Walker with the lead changing numerous times over the nine lap race.
The deciding moment came when both riders were forced to return to the bottom of a hill and make another attempt. It was Webb who turned around quicker and was able to go on with the lead, pulling away to win with a gap of 1:43.
“I had chills running down my back from the fatigue and I know that Jonny felt a little sick the last few days and also had to deal with jetlag, so I am happy that I was I was able to take the win”, Webb said. “This is definitely right up there with the biggest wins I have ever had with all of the tough riders that showed up for this event”.
Robert rebounded from his mishap on the first lap to take third and the final podium spot. “I got stuck on a pretty small hill on that first lap and that put me way back”, Robert said. “I have improved my technical skills a lot over the last few years but I can’t make up time on Cody and Jonny on this kind of terrain, but I am happy to get back on the podium.”
2015 KENDA AMA Tennessee Knockout Results
- Cody Webb KTM
- Jonny Walker KTM
- Taylor Robert KTM
- Mike Brown Husqvarna
- Cory Graffunder KTM
- Kyle Redmond Beta
- Colton Haker Husqvarna
- Jordan Ashburn Yamaha
- Ty Tremaine KTM
- Max Gerston Beta
- Grant Baylor Yamaha
- Ricky Russell Yamaha
- Mitch Carvolth KTM
- Quinn Wentzel KTM
- Wally Palmer KTM/Christini