Though you aren’t allowed to pre-run or otherwise practice on a course in Hare & Hound or Hare Scrambles races, no one can keep you from racing a certain area in the past and that experience can certainly be a benefit.
For example, those who compete in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series have raced the Little Sahara Recreation Area near Jericho, Utah, for years. The BLM decrees that clubs must stick to existing trails and roads, so over time, riders begin to develop a pretty good feel for what the area’s like.
They can also take that knowledge and apply it to help set up bikes⏤and that’s exactly how Purvines DA8 Racing YZ450FX riders Nick Burson and Axel Pearson approached the Sahara Hare Scramble put on by the Sage Riders Motorcycle Club, round eight in the 10-race Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.
Burson shared, “They said it was kind of like the third loop of the National, but it was so beat up. We don’t see it that way [at a Hare & Hound]; we’re the first five guys through at the National [and then we never ride it again].
“It was probably the roughest thing I’ve ever ridden.”
But the defending series champ still ended up hanging on for second place despite being sick.
Pearson agreed, saying, “I kind of knew what to expect. It got really rough so at the end of the day, it came down to whoever can pin it through the whoops [best]. Fortunately, I’ve got some good bike setups for this kind of stuff, but it was still brutal⏤it kicked my butt.”
After getting a great start, Pearson stayed in front the rest of the way to come home with the win, his first of the season.
That’s one thing that none of the hare & hound regulars seemed to expect⏤or at least they forgot about it beforehand: They’d be seeing the same trail over and over, and thus see it deteriorate. In that sense, experience wouldn’t really help.
Since he’d never ridden in the area and isn’t a desert racer, Beta’s Max Gerston answered plainly when asked if he would play it safe and just try to salvage points aboard his 430 RR: “No matter how experienced you are or how inexperienced you are in an area, if you’re not going for the win, I think you’re wasting your time.”
After finishing third and hanging onto the top spot in series points (though his gap over Burson narrowed from 10 to six, 176-170), Gerston expounded on the course’s brutal nature: “What a torture-fest that was! Man, it was the most clapped-out, silted-out whoops bull crap I’ve ever seen. It was unreal⏤but it was really fun.”
Monarch Honda CRF450X-mounted Tuffy Pearson claimed fourth place ahead of Cole Conatser, the FMF Pro 250-class winner for the third time this season on his Moto Pro KTM 250 XC.
Gas Gas XC 300 rider Joey Fiasconaro took a wrong turn on the first lap, along with several others, and found himself suddenly at the front of the pack, though he reportedly crashed on the last lap and lost position. After the race, officials pored over the AMA rule book and lap charts, and ended up penalizing him so he officially finished sixth overall.
FMF Pro 250 runner-up Clayton Gerstner followed in seventh overall on his 707-R YZ250FX ahead of Lake Powell Off-road Association CRF450X-mounted Skyler Howes who’d run fourth for much of the race before hitting a stump while trying to pass a lapper in a wide-open grassy meadow.
SRT Husqvarna TC 250 rider J.T. Baker kept his FMF Pro 250 points lead in finishing ninth overall with Vet A winner Logan Cleveland rounding out the top 10 overall aboard his YZ250X.