US Hard Enduro finale: 2023 Donner Hard Enduro highlights and results
Video highlights and results from the final race of the 2023 US Hard Enduro season at the spectacular Donner Hard Enduro in Norden, California where Cody Webb got back on the top step with a trials master display on the granite rocks.
After 800+ inches of snow (!) clobbering the Donner Ski Resort in Norden, California this past winter, the original planned dates in June were shifted to later in the season. No-one wants to miss out on riding this venue but the promoter, Brian Garrahan, had the Donner Hard Enduro be part of a bigger weekend of racing events, called the Donner Challenge.
This included a Motoclimb race and an AMA District 36 Hare Scramble, and the final round of the AMA West Hard Enduro Series.
Cody fast out the blocks with qualifying race win
Taking advantage of the multi-discipline weekend, the District 36 Hare Scramble acted as the qualifying race for the Donner Hard Enduro, mixing racers and giving the amateur hard enduro racers some extra time on the mountain.
In the hare scramble race, FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb laid down a marker and pulled away with the lead with ISDE Gold Medalist Anson Maloney trailing not too far behind. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Ryder Leblond was in third the first couple laps, but eventually passed Anson for the second spot. Beta USA’s Danny Lewis and IRC Tire’s James Flynn rounded out the top-five in the final hare scramble results.
This Saturday qualifier determined the row position for all classes of Sunday’s main hard enduro race, which was not time corrected.
Main race AMA West points battle
Being that this was the final round of the AMA West Hard Enduro Championship, there was a points battle in several of the classes, including the Pro class between Cody Webb, Ryder LeBlond, and RPM Racing Team’s Will Riordan.
Sunday’s race was 3.5 hours long and the course was about 10 miles long, winding up and down through the granite slabs, thick pine forests, wet creeks, and open ski runs of the Donner Ski Ranch.
The race started in rows of 20 based on the hare scramble the day prior, and it was Keith Curtis who grabbed the holeshot to lead the front pack into the popular “Spectator Hill” section, which attracted hundreds of spectators that were eagerly waiting for the amateur craziness that followed.
Cody Webb grabbed the lead on the first lap and didn’t look back, limiting his mistakes and taking advantage of his trials skills in the very technical rock and log sections of the course. Will was sitting in second place when he went down on a transfer trail and busted his radiator. He had to return to the pits to fix it, losing places and time but it continued after he re-joined and found his radiator hose had a leak. All together he lost over 30 minutes and had to work hard to gain time back – taking the fastest lap times of the day in the process.
Ryder LeBlond was sitting comfortably in second, and began to pull up to Webb towards the end of the race, but couldn’t reel him all the way. James Flynn pushed his way to the third position passing Curtis, and was riding one of his best races of the year.
Sections such as “No Way”, “AA Hills”, and “End of the World” that held up some of the Pros and many of the A Class racers that were placed into those course splits.
On the third lap, Webb came into the finish line right at 3.5 hours, winning the Donner Hard Enduro and clinching the AMA West Regional Championship. LeBlond came into the finish line four minutes behind in second.
The drama was behind though as Flynn pushed hard to hold off a charging Riordan but the with a pass right before one of the final checks, beating Will grabbed the final podium spot from Flynn by only 14 seconds with Curtis fifth.
The Donner Hard Enduro was tougher than years past, and was said to be one of the harder races in the country. There were quite a few first time hard enduro racers in the amateur ranks, and the course definitely beat them down – although organisers are still declaring that “they had a great experience”.
The Donner wraps up the 2023 US Hard Enduro season, and the USHE team would like to thank the many sponsors, clubs, and promoters that helped make this season possible. Thanks also to Josh Schaecher and Mike Soudas of Oh727 Promotions for working every event this year and keeping operations running smoothly.
The 2024 season is approaching and USHE is working on building up the programme for next season.
2023 Donner Hard Enduro results (top 30):
Full results: http://www.moto-tally.com/USHE/Results.aspx
More information: www.ushardenduro.com
Video Edit: Ryan Wade
Words: Matt Musgrove | USHE
Photo Credit: Jenny Keller