They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, so you’ll find me near Kobi Iseri for the next twelve months. Kobi works at Suzuki, so when he’s not bragging about his chats with Roger DeCoster or polishing his factory replica RM-Z450, he’s helping out with Dirt Rider in our bike tests, shootouts and bike features. Kobi has always come off as a nice guy, but I have found a dark, sinister truth.
Last weekend I raced the Hangtown national track (less a few huge jumps the promoters wisely routed us around) through the Monster Energy Crossover Challenge. This is where Monster assembles a group of athletes from other extreme sports, sends them off on a nearly full starting gate, then releases a second gate of media people. Well, I pulled the one string I have in this industry and got Kobi a spot on the media line.
I have Kobi handled speed-wise. He may say otherwise, but he doesn’t have a blog now, does he? No matter that he lined up on a 450 and I was on my beloved little YZ125. No matter that the Hangtown track was ripped nice and loamy with pillow-like rice hulls keeping the ground soft and power-robbing. No matter that the track had some real hills to it. And no matter that I was running worn tires and his bike had been prepped by factory super-mechanic Mike Gosselaar. I was not going to lose.
I won’t recount the first moto, because I’m not a braggart. Jimmy Lewis was long gone, but Kobi was was just a distant memory after the third corner. A few times I saw a flash of yellow out the corner of my eye when the track snaked back around, but it was going so slow I wasn’t sure if it was Kobi or a tractor doing some infield maintenance.
So the day was going as everyone would have predicted until they dropped the gate on moto two. Like a spoiled brat Kobi dropped the hammer on his horsepower advantage and beat me to the first turn. I took a few laps behind him while I pondered a Pro Riding Secret that might explain why squids always stay in the roughest line. Then with a lap and half to go I decided t put the order of the universe back right and pass him.
Well I did pass Kobi, no problem… about six times. For about four minutes we had our own epic battle on a track I’ll never forget. The 125/450 matchup played out perfectly, with me going past into the corners, then Kobi literally launching past me in mid-air on the way out. That’s what’s great about amateur racing – you find someone your same speed, and the fun of battle eclipses all other worries.
Sadly, I lost that battle, but had too much fun to care. But I wanted everyone to know this story for two reasons – if you have a national coming to your area, look into racing the amateur days. Yes, they can be long days, but there is a real thrill to riding a national track on race weekend. You get the primo track prep few racers get to experience, and then you can hang around and watch the fastest guys in the world show you how it’s supposed to be done. I also want to get the word out about the dastardly Kobi Iseri. If you every see a spit-shined near factory RM-Z 450 with a line-crossing novice at the controls, stay away. He may seem like a nice guy, but he’s evil. He’ll do anything to win, and isn’t afraid to pick on 125s. When he’s resting between rides, go over and let some air of his tires. Then look around to say hello to me, because where Kobi is, I won’t be far, keeping an eye on him and plotting my revenge for next year’s Crossover event if he contines his squidly ways. Or if he starts to really ride better, maybe I won’t try too hard to get him invited back.
A special thanks to the Dirt Diggers for another amazing event at Hangtown with a track that has a great layout and perfect prep, and for photo superstar Drew Ruiz for the photos in the blog.