I hope you guys are right but I am am concerned he pushes too hard with all the pressure and does a Cody on us. I remember Quin Cody rode outstandingly well in 2011, and in 2012 he was aiming for a top three for sure, the way he was riding was very different to the year before, you could see it on the cameras everyday before he crashed on the 3rd day.
Its one thing to ride 100% in an enduro or even the Baja but to do it for 8 hours/day 14 days in a row is asking for trouble.
If Kurt can hold himself back a little, ride fast when the opportunity arises but within his means, and navigate flawlessly, then he could do very well. Without taking anything away from his ability I just think coming 9th 11 years ago is a little different to 9th today, when the top 30-40 guys are all champions.
Not that I am really qualified to say any of this - its just my observation. Wish I could ride like Kurt myself.