Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we have an update on Hell’s Gate, a look at the new JCR lineup, the Indy Dealer Expo, 2012 Husqvarna CR144 Long Haul Update and looking into ARRA!
Jarvis Wins Hell’s Gate, Webb Third
Graham Jarvis claimed his third consecutive victory at Hell’s Gate Hard Enduro in Italy this past weekend, making him the most successful rider ever in the world-famous event. The factory Husaberg rider turned in a dominant performance in difficult conditions to finish comfortably ahead of runner-up Jonny Walker, while American Beta rider Cody Webb finished third.
For the first time in the 10-year history of the event the Italian mountains were covered in deep snow, something that provided riders with additional challenges. Intent on remaining behind Walker during the opening lap of the main event Jarvis found himself leading the race a little sooner than he’d hoped. Forced to carve a line through the snow in numerous sections of the course, Jarvis was nevertheless able to power his way up the many rocky river beds and in doing so instantly started to pull away from his rivals.
“I was happy to follow Jonny from the start of the main race,” explained Jarvis. “I was riding behind him and in no hurry to pass him, but he made a mistake and I went to the front of the race. It was hard because I was putting in the line in the snow. The rivers were surprisingly grippy, which is where I think I managed to make my time. In the snow you just had to try and keep things in a straight line, you couldn’t push hard at all.”
Initially a five-lap race, the organizer’s decision to reduce it to four laps was met by relief from the competitors. With darkness beginning to fall as Jarvis arrived at the base of the final climb, it took two attempts for the Husaberg rider to get close to the halfway point of the climb. Pushed, pulled, and dragged upwards by the enthusiastic group of spectators gathered close to the finish, Jarvis finally reached the end of the race 12 minutes ahead of second placed Walker and clearly overjoyed to have claimed yet another Hell’s Gate win.
“It’s an incredible feeling to have won at Hell’s Gate for the third time. I really wasn’t expecting it and because of the conditions I didn’t know how things would work out, or how the other riders would do. Once I got into the lead everything went really well. The morning race was quite hard. The snow meant that some of the easier sections of the track from previous years were really tough, it also meant that I used a bit more energy than I hoped to. Jonny Walker was fast, like I expected him to be, but finishing second and not too far behind was good.”
Results – Hell’s Gate 2013
1. Graham Jarvis (Husaberg) 4 laps; 2. Jonny Walker (KTM) 4 laps + 12.17; 3. Cody Webb (Beta) 4 laps + 17.32; 4. Alfredo Gomez (Husaberg) 4 laps + 21.52; 5. Ben Hemingway (Beta) 4 laps + 29.28.
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA)
As responsible members of the off-road community, we should all understand the importance of protecting access for our sport to continue, and ARRA is one free and easy way for people to help. ARRA works closely with the other national OHV organizations as well as with many state and local clubs to provide a quick and easy way for all enthusiasts to weigh in.
If you haven’t checked out ARRA (or joined for free yourselves) visit www.arra-access.org to get a feel for what it’s all about. Yes, the site itself appears very dry (there are reasons for that) but they are developing some additional tools that will hopefully spice things up a bit for a younger demographic.
ARRA is also on Facebook (facebook.com/arra.access), so check it out.
Maggie McNally Elected Chair of the AMA Board of Directors
The American Motorcyclist Association just announced that Maggie McNally was unanimously elected chair of the AMA Board of Directors at its meeting in Indianapolis on Feb. 16. With her election, she becomes the first woman to lead the AMA board in the association’s 89-year history.
“I’m honored that my fellow AMA board members have chosen me as chair, and I’m humbled by the historical significance of a woman taking this office,” McNally said. “At the end of the day, however, the important thing is not the gender of the board’s chair, rather it is the united commitment by the board and the AMA staff to carry out our mission to better protect and promote motorcycling. Doing so enables us to nimbly and ably meet the needs of our existing and future members.”
“The AMA Board of Directors represents a wide-ranging pool of experience, expertise and passion for motorcycling,” McNally said. “We draw from the motorcycling industry, AMA clubs, our membership and the entire motorcycling community. I’m confident that we are in an excellent position to build upon the momentum we’ve created to continue the AMA’s mission of promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling.”—Shan Moore
Indy Dealer Expo Update
The annual Indianapolis Dealer Expo took place this past weekend, and the DR staff was on hand to capture the action. New products, gear, hard parts, bikes and accessories were everywhere, with the best companies in the business showing off their goods to dealers, enthusiasts and industry insiders. Over the course of three days we saw plenty of cool things, many of which you will see in an upcoming product spotlight or test in the magazine. We also completed video wrap-ups from each day; here’s a peek at what the final day at the Trade Show revealed:
JCR Honda finally announces line-up and plans
With Dakar finally behind him and the San Felipe 250 fast approaching, Johnny Campbell has enjoyed little time to rest. We caught up with him by phone as he hurried to a meeting at SCORE headquarters, this after a full day of prep for San Felipe and other team business.
“It’s been quite a mission to get all sponsors in place to let us operate this year,” the 11-time Baja 1000 champion and Johnny Campbell Racing Honda team owner began. “I know we’re not alone; there’s a lot of teams that are suffering too [with budget cutbacks].
“I actually had to scale back my program to two riders, two main riders, which is Colton Udall and Timmy Weigand. We’re concentrating our efforts on the three Baja SCORE races and we are competing unofficially in the AMA [District 37] Big 6 Grand Prix Series, and our riders will ride select events at mine and their discretion.”
Asked to clarify “unofficially,” Campbell explained, “I have a contract with American Honda for three races. Anything else we outside of that, we’re on our own.
“I know the riders need to have some structure and we have to be training and racing so that series there is the easiest, most cost-effective way to go racing and the guys can actually get a payback and help us test and stay in shape.”
Campbell also shed light on JCR Honda’s role in the racing plans of David Kamo and Evan Kelly, saying, “I didn’t have [the money for] a program for David this year for hare & hounds so we just made a handshake agreement that he can use the bike and I’ll help him with some parts and tires if he’s going to compete and keep himself in shape and, in turn, make himself available whenever I need to pull him in for a third rider at one of the races.
“Evan Kelly, he comes from a motorcycle background (his father, Tom, was a factory Honda off-road racer in the ‘80s)–good foundation, good parents. He has a lot of skill and I’m loaning him a couple bikes as well. He’s kind of on his own as far as what events he wants to pick and choose to ride as part of a rider development program.”
The budget cuts also dictate cutting back on the team’s participation at the Glen Helen endurance races, though Campbell says he will have the team race the 24-hour. “We may compete in…actually this year it’s called the 10-hour instead of the 12-hour; it was news to me, too! We may compete in that—I’m not sure. I think we’re all going to go on vacation and go ride Mammoth motocross this year [instead]. Timmy’s always one of the favorites up there so he’s been going up there and I’ve never had the chance to ride it so I think I may try to dust off my motocross boots and try to ride one of the Senior classes or something! [My son] Preston wants to go, and like I said, it’s one thing I’ve never done so we want to go up there and make a vacation out of it.”
They may need it. JCR Honda will face even better prepared competition in Baja this year with the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team again starting out with two teams and THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki squad all seeking to wrest the 1X plate away from the Red Riders. And Campbell says negotiations are still underway for additional backing that could see the team enter
the EnduroCross wars. —Mark Kariya
2012 Husqvarna CR144 Long Haul Update
After 50+ hours of track, trail, desert and hills, this little smoker is not only running clean, crisp and strong, but is still fun as heck to ride. We’ve done the usual maintenance (transmission oil changes, carb cleanings, fresh tires) and before I got my hands on it, the Husky was raced at Glen Helen Raceway and Pro Circuit dialed in the suspension for that race.
To get acquainted with this bike, I had the pleasure taking it out to Ocotillo Wells SVRA in Borrego Springs, CA for a weekend of fun and frolic. Ocotillo is huge riding area filled with sand washes, steep hills, ridgeline-to-valley trails and miles of endless whooped out gravel roads.
The V-Force reeded, FMF piped Husky tackled all of these obstacles, some more easily than others. Contrary to most other bikes, the 144 was a blast in the whoops owing to the suspension work and manageable power and it was fun seeing how long I could hold it wide open without loosing control. The fork absorbed stray rocks and small ledges great and kept the front-end feeling light and flickable. Moderately tight trails were also where the CR shined. Suddenly changing direction was a breeze, whizzing through narrow canons was a hoot and the 144 had plenty of power to keep up with the other riders in my group (who were on 450s).
Suddenly changing altitude, on the other hand, is where this bike (and rider) struggled. I’ll admit that I haven’t had that much small two-stroke experience and steep, rutted, loose-rocked hills taxed both the bike and pilot. There were definitely a few times I looked at my companions 450s with envy. For example, I was struggling to find the right gear on the face of a long climb when I suddenly hit the meat of the power inducing an impromptu power wheelie leaving me bulge-eyed and screaming.
Overall, the Husqvarna CR144 was way more fun in the desert than I was anticipating. It did what all of the other bigger, torquey-er bikes could do, it just took a bit more work and preparation to do so. Though riding an eighth-liter (almost) two-stroke in the dez was both mentally and physically draining, it was both physically and mentally rewarding. Next up for the CR144 is some more moto-time at the local MX tracks. Check back to Dirt Rider for the full wrap-up.—Sean Klinger
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.