Welcome to The Weekly Dirt, the place to go each Wednesday to catch up on the latest happenings in the realm of off-road motorcycling. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are wishing everyone a happy turkey day. Now, let’s go around the country to catch up on what happened this weekend:
Honda Survives Challenges For Baja 1000 Win
The 45th running of the Tecate/SCORE Baja 1000 lived up to its promise of being the most hotly contested 1000 in 25 years, if not the entire history of this fabled contest in Baja California, Mexico.
Coming into it, the Johnny Campbell Racing Honda trio of David Kamo/Colton Udall/Timmy Weigand had two runner-up finishes in the three-round SCORE Desert Series and desperately wanted to close out the year with a win.
But they faced two formidable opponents–factory-backed FMF/Bonanza Plumbing KTM (MIke Brown/Kurt Caselli/Quinn Cody/Ivan Ramirez) and THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki (Destry Abbott/Robby Bell/Steve Hengeveld/David Pearson)–both with one triumph apiece.
That put the orange squad narrowly in the points lead over the privateer Kawasaki and Honda efforts, all three separated by only six points as they rolled up to the start line in Ensenada. The series championship and its coveted 1X plate would belong to the team that crossed the finish line in La Paz–1122 miles to the south–before the others, plain and simple.
As expected, the race quickly became a private battle among those three teams, with the KTM (the fourth bike off the line) taking the lead in the first 100 miles, just ahead of the Kawasaki (seventh to start).
But Udall put the Honda in front by San Felipe after starting 10th, some 200 miles before. From there, the Red Riders managed to control the race as their competitors ran into various problems. The KTM dropped back first with a fueling issue, and Cody crashed a night, breaking his femur, leaving the Kawasaki as the closest competitor.
And it remained very close, with only a couple minutes separating the two teams as the race wore on and continued after the sun went down.
Finally, with just over 100 miles to go and only a couple minutes back physically, might master Hengeveld came to a stop, his KX450F unable to continue due to a suspected broken piston. That gave Weigand some breathing room–the most the Honda team enjoyed all day–and he continued to speed away to the finish line, reaching it in 20 hours, nine minutes and 30 seconds.
“It helped us out, being so far back from the start,” Kamo said. “That way, we [could] be the hunters.”
He added, “There were lots of cows and lots of cars and lots of people [along the course]–donkeys, horses, everything!”
The win extended Honda’s win streak at the 1000 to 16 straight.
After learning of Cody’s crash (which happened a few miles from where Caselli was supposed to get on the bike for the final stretch to the finish), Caselli grabbed a practice bike, rode back along the course and found the race bike as Cody was getting transported to the pit and eventual medical help in someone’s truck.
Caselli found the race bike still rideable and got it to the pit for maintenance and the minimal repairs. (Funny story: Caselli asked one of the locals who’d surrounded the race bike to ride the practice bike to the pit. When the designated rider showed up, it turns out he was not only very drunk but had never ridden a bike with a manual clutch before! Only in Baja. “Definitely, every time you go to Baja, there’s always a few stories [afterward],” Caselli mused. And that was in addition to his pre-run adventure of having his bike break, forcing him to try for two hours to hitch a ride for dead bike and him, finally getting picked up by some passing locals who laid the bike down in the bed of their truck.)
Despite the downtime, Caselli got to the finish an hour and three minutes later for second bike overall and second in the championship.
Riding apparel magnate Jim O’Neal captained the winning Class 21 (for bikes 450cc and under) team (joined by the younger trio of Ricky Brabec/Max Eddy, Jr./Shane Esposito) who were another 48 minutes back but third bike overall.
Early leaders Justin Jones/Evan Kelly/Mark Samuels/Ian Young came back from running out of fuel to finish third in Class 22 (450cc and over) and fourth overall with the Class 30 (riders over 30 years old) winners of Ben Binckley/Clint Braun/Rex Cameron/Mike Johnson/Jason Trubey were fifth overall.— Mark Kariya
Dean Wilson Back At PC
The word is out that Dean Wilson has apparently signed with Mitch Payton and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki to race the 2013 season. The 2011 250 National MX Champion was all set to race with the Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki team, but suddenly found himself without a ride when JWR recently folded. It’s still uncertain which class and which coast Wilson will race.
Wade Young Wins 2012 Roof Of Africa
Sixteen-year-old Wade Young made history on Saturday when he became the youngest competitor ever to win the Roof of Africa enduro motorcycle race that took place for the 45th time in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. It was also the first time since 2007 that a South African rider wins this gruelling three day event that consisted of about 450 kilometres this year.
Extremely hot weather conditions caused many competitors to dehydrate while a challenging route confirmed the 2012 Roof of Africa enduro as one of the toughest in recent years.
Young, racing for Team Fever Criterion Yamaha, took the lead on Friday when he posted the fastest time after starting the race from second position behind Marc Torlage (Proudly Bidvest Yamaha) who won the 60km time-trial that determined the starting order for Friday’s racing section. The youngster tackled the third and final day on Saturday (187km) with a gap of just over 10 minutes to the 2011 winner, Graham Jarvis (Flite Extreme Husaberg) and eventually beat second-placed fellow South African, Altus de Wet (Brother Broadlink KTM) by just over 11 minutes after a total race time of 17 hours 36 minutes and 10 seconds. (All race results are still provisional.)
Regular Roof of Africa competitor, De Wet (27 years old) started the final day from third position, 26 seconds behind Jarvis, but overtook the UK extreme enduro expert, who experienced problems with his Global Positioning System (GPS) early in the day. Jarvis had to settle for third place, but vowed to be back to try and reclaim the title.
De Wet’s team-mate, Darryl Curtis, a former winner who competed in his 21st Roof of Africa and admitted that he would have liked to be even better prepared for the event as the preparation and testing for the 2013 Dakar Rally demanded a lot of his time, was ecstatic with his fourth place. Another team-mate, Louwrens Mahoney, struggled with two problematic GPS’s, but managed to finish eighth while Riaan van Niekerk was ninth. Torlage, who suffered from an injured thumb since early Friday, fought back from ninth place on Friday to finish fifth. He was just ahead of this team-mate, Kenny Gilbert, who competed in his ninth Roof of Africa.
After racing for three days and 450 kilometres in the mountains of Lesotho where one can hardly walk, Gilbert beat local Ladybrand rider, Wynand Badenhorst (Nomadik Tents KTM) by a mere eight seconds! The Ladybrand rider was still recovering from torn ligaments in his knee, but was a popular rider to follow as he knows his way around in the mountains.
Three times Roof of Africa winner, the Kiwi Chris Birch (Comsol BELL ACR KTM) had a disappointing event and suffered from dehydration. He was fifth overall at the end of Friday and although he was feeling better on the final day, he was still weak from being violently ill the previous day. He had to settle for 10th place overall. His team-mate, Scott Bouverie, lost time during Friday, but enjoyed the challenging route on Saturday to finish 11th, only 42 seconds ahead of fellow KwaZulu-Natal rider, Brad van Aswegen (Kargo Racing Yamaha).
Van Aswegen crashed hard on Saturday and dislocated his knee. It popped back and he soldiered on albeit in pain. His team-mates, Mark Garland, had to make up for lost time on Saturday as he was also sick during Friday’s racing section, but he managed an 18th place while the scholar, Timmy Young, finished his first Roof of Africa in 20th place.
Van Aswegen was followed by the UK trials champion, Ben Hemingway (cc Gallery KTM) for who the pace at the slowest and most technical sections was still quite fast as they are trials-riding specialists. It was the second Roof of Africa experience for the Hemingway brothers from the UK (his brother, Dan, finished 17th) and they promised to do so again.
Another regular in Lesotho, the German Andreas “Letti” Lettenbichler (Husqvarna) had to get used to the set-up of his brand new bike and suffered a few small technical problems with the fuel-line on the bike. He was 14th. Team Liquorland Yamaha racing’s James Hodson finished 15th – his team-mate, William Gillit was 19th – while Shannon Frost (FDBR Racing Yamaha) was 16th.
Forty-four of the 94 entrants in the PRO Class completed the event. That includes Andy Noakley (Rocket Centre KTM) from Manchester (UK) who was 29th while Martin Freinademetz (KTM), who is involved in the organisation of the popular Red Bull Romaniacs extreme enduro event in Romania, finished 43rd.
The Expert Class for competitors who had to complete about 75% of the full race distance, was won by Gary Barton (BELL Equipment/LCS Yamaha) followed by Faan van Deventer (Pa Ma Racing Yamaha) with Stephen Landman (Liquorland Yamaha) who rounded off the podium. Peter Jung (Wildcoast KTM / Umso Ribco) won the Intermediate Class (half distance). He was followed by Craig McGregor (KTM) and Charl Weyer (KTM). Lady rider, Toni Jardine (RAD Moto KTM) completed the Expert Class – she finished in the Intermediate Class in 2011).
The 2012 Roof of Africa attracted about 400 entrants from across the globe that competed in this event that is one of the oldest races in the world. More information about the event as well as full results can be found on www.roofofafrica.org.ls.
2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Schedule
Great news for those in the southeast who have been hoping for a motocross national in that part of the country. The 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross schedule was recently announced and it features a round in Tennessee. Next year’s series kicks off Saturday, May 18th at the Hangtown Motocross Classic, just outside of Sacramento, California, and then makes stops at the premier motocross facilities in the country, while introducing two new venues to the schedule, including for the first time the Bristol National at Muddy Creek Raceway, located minutes outside the world-renowned racing town of Bristol, Tennessee. The other new venue will be announced soon.
May 18 Hangtown Motocross Classic Sacramento, Calif.
May 25 Thunder Valley National Lakewood, Colo.
June 1 Bristol National Blountville, Tenn.
June 8 High Point National Mt. Morris, Pa.
June 22 Budds Creek National Mechanicsville, Md.
June 29 Moto X 338 National Southwick, Mass.
July 6 RedBud National Buchanan, Mich.
July 20 Washougal National Washougal, Wash.
July 27 Spring Creek National Millville, Minn.
August 10 Unadilla National New Berlin, N.Y.
August 17 TBA TBA
August 24 Lake Elsinore National Lake Elsinore, Calif.
2013 GNCC Schedule
Racer Productions announced the 2013 Grand National Cross Country schedule, which gets underway as usual in Florida before making it’s usual stops in the southeast. The schedule once again takes a summer break in the months of July and August, before kicking off the final four fall events in September. For the first time in two years, the Ironman GNCC will return as the ever-so-popular season finale in October.
March 9-12 River Ranch River Ranch, FL
March 16-17 The General Washington, GA
April 6-7 Steele Creek Morganton, NC
April 20-21 Big Buck Union, SC
May 4-5 The Mammoth Park City, KY
May 18-19 Limestone 100 Springville, IN
June 1-2 John Penton Millfield, OH
June 15-16 Mountaineer Run Masontown, WV
June 29-30 Snowshoe Snowshoe, WV
September 7-8 Unadilla New Berlin, NY
September 21-22 Loretta Lynn’s Hurricane Mills, TN
October 12-13 Powerline Park St. Clairsville, OH
October 26-27 Ironman Crawfordsville, IN
For more info check out www.gnccracing.com. — Shan Moore
That’s a wrap for this week. Keep tuned in to www.dirtrider.com for more killer content!