Welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. Can you believe it’s already February? Racing is starting to kick into high gear and there’s to talk about, so let’s get to it!
The second annual King of the Motos started out just past the infamous Hammertown in Johnson Valley, California. Grand Marshall Larry Roeseler waved the green flag initiating the test of true endurance. The riders were split into three different classes: Pro, Expert and Amateur Teams.
In the field of 25 Pro riders lurked a few EnduroCross riders including Cody Webb, Taylor Robert, Destry Abbott, Brian Roper, Max Gerston, Cory Graffunder, Ryan Sandoval, Eric Rhoten, Jacob Argubright and others.
Factory Beta rider Cody Webb and last year’s winner Graham Jarvis battled it out throughout the race, but it was clear that Webb was quite comfortable on his bike and through the technical obstacles. After swapping the premiere race position a few times, it was Cody Webb that appeared out of the dust atop of the podium, followed by Graham Jarvis who suffered from a worn bib mousse. The Arizona native Taylor Robert rounded out the top three with his Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Cody Webb’s teammate Max Gerston had an interesting race; he had the throttle stuck wide open across the open desert. It then took 45 minutes to fix, which dropped him into 28th place. Working his way through the field, Gerston then ran out of gas. Another racer brought Gerston gas to the gas pit stop and helped him back.
“I was able to strap water bottles full of gas to my front fender to finish out the 34 mile loops,” Gerston says. Gerston ended up in 10th place overall.
Cory Graffunder and Ryan Sandoval hit the end of the road after both having issues with broken chains. No outside assistance was allowed for King of the Moto racers.
The only expert not to be lapped by Pro riders was Steve Deines, the first place expert finisher. X Games Enduro X Silver Medalist Louise Forsley, the only female rider, stuck it to the boys in the expert class when she ran most of the race in 18th overall leading her class and working some of the KOTM pro riders. Trouble struck Forsley when she smashed clutch cover on the last gnarly rock canyon going down before the finish line. Oil drained within seconds and Forsley wasn’t able to finish.
At Check two, Cameron Steele of Desert Assassins came through looking worn yet ready for the next obstacle of Jackhammer and hoping to make it 9 miles to the next gas stop. Steele must have made it to next the gas stop because last we heard of him, the #16 bike was crossing the Red Bull finish line.
Only finishers in the amateur team class were the Hawaiian shirts of Robert Madden and Nathan Brown.
King of the Motos Pro Class Results
1. Cody Webb 247 4:50:38
2. Graham Jarvis 1 5:17:29
3. Taylor Robert 33 5:24:44
4. Destry Abbott 8 5:54:43
5. Brian Roper 125 6:31:46
6. Eric Bailey 529 7:14:04
7. Jack Field 111 7:24:21
8. Eric Rhoten 200 7:36:22
9. Don Boespflug 8VA 8:02:59
10. Max Gerston 25 8:03:22
11. Richard Lancaster 30 8:11:24
14. Michael Allen 14 9:03:41
King of the Motos Expert Class Results
1. Steven Dienes 514 4:26:15
2. Paul Krause 6 5:18:23
3. Jonathan Estes 228 5:27:56
4. Shane Reed 624 5:43:04
4. Cameron Steele 16 5:43:04
5. Joseph Kessler 46 5:46:00
6. Craig Thompson 37 6:12:26
7. Bernard Unhassobiscay 17 7:04:32
8. Brenden Throckmorton N375 7:09:19
9. Robert Katz 15ZQ 7:41:42
10. Andrew Mitchell 530 7:54:01
11. Tom Walker 84 8:04:50
12. John Kearney N2M 9:25:10
King of the Motos Amateur Team Results
1. Madden / Brown 502T 7:17:10
Check out video of the race: http://youtu.be/tLyR2OKA4yY.—Lindsey Lovell
CSG Open House
Kevin Windham shocked the motocross community recently with news of his retirement from professional racing, and while K-Dub will be sorely missed at the track there’s certainly a lot to celebrate about #14′s storied career. To help send Windham off into the next phase of his life in style, an invite-only retirement party was held at Corona Sports Group’s Headquarters in conjunction with the fourth annual CSG Open House.
The vibe of this event was laid back and fun, with a host of MSR, Answer and Pro Taper’s top athletes in attendance to mingle, sign autographs and raise a glass to Windham. On hand was Metal Mulisha General Brian Deegan, FMX stars Robbie Maddison, Nate Adams and Lance Coury, racers Travis Baker, Eli Tomac, Malcolm Stewart, Nick Wey and more. Unexpectedly, the longest autograph line of the night went to none other than off-road legend Malcolm Smith, who had his signature smile on his face throughout the entire event.
Perhaps the coolest part of a gathering like this is seeing everyone having such a good time together. Moto racers can rub elbows with freestyle riders, off-road stars and legends, all while enjoying themselves and having a fun night out. Of course, Windham was genuinely appreciative of the longtime support of MSR, and he probably lost count of the number of times a fan or old friend shook his hand on a career well spent. We know that we haven’t seen the last of Windham, but if ever there was a moment that his retirement became official, it was at the CSG party. —Chris Denison
National Enduro Series Review DVD
For all you fans of enduro, the National Enduro Promotions Group is offering a wrapup DVD of highlights of last year’s season. The 2012 National Enduro Series had one of the most stacked pro classes the series has ever seen with four-time and defending champion Russell Bobbitt looking for his fifth title against eight-time champ Mike Lafferty, 2010 champ Charlie Mullins and a field of upstarts like rookie Steward Baylor. The 2012 Series Review DVD covers each of the 10 rounds of the series and captures all the action as the rookie Baylor takes four wins in the first five rounds before suffering a wrist injury that allows veteran Mike Lafferty to sneak back into the title hunt. Legendary announcer Larry Maiers adds commentary as the best woods rider in the country do battle from South Carolina to Wyoming. Head over to nationalenduro.com to pick up a copy for just $19.95!
Ryan Villopoto Exposed?
Don’t forget to watch the CBS special Monster Energy Supercross: Ryan Villopoto Champion, airing this Sunday at 12:00PM ET. The program shows an unexpected side of Ryan Villopoto’s life as a champion.
Rick James Stewart Revisited
Here’s a cool bit from Red Bull: James Stewart is featured in the ESPN Magazine’s Music Issue, out this week. In one section, several athletes recreate iconic album covers. It was an easy sell to have James recreate Rick James’ Street Songs. Check out the link for several images from the shoot.
Weigand Wails At Big 6 Opener Plus Dakar Comments From Caselli
When the AMA D-37 Big 6 Grand Prix Series began in 1995, the six District clubs that comprised the promotions group knew they were onto a good thing, but they probably didn’t know just how good.
Nowadays, they claim to be the largest AMA-sanctioned amateur racing series in the country with an average of about 1000 entries per race weekend, and the series now boasts eight races in Southern California and Nevada, taking advantage of the large population base that District 37 can draw from. Many top off-road racers got their start in D-37, either in the desert or the GPs (as well as enduros)–guys like Robby Bell, Johnny Campbell and Kurt Caselli come to mind.
This year’s series kicked off with the 11th Annual Taft Grand Prix, hosted by the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club at Honolulu Hills Raceway in the Central California oil and farming community of Taft. Being both Superbowl Sunday and King of the Motos weekend probably helped dilute participant numbers, but there were still over 900 entries.
In the featured West Coast Grand Prix series within a series, Johnny Campbell Racing Honda teammates Colton Udall and Timmy Weigand continued the domination they showed last year, Udall rocketing into the early lead but eventually yielding to Vet class-eligible Weigand. Privateer Gary Sutherlin rocked a new leftover 2011 YZ450F he’d recently purchased and claimed third.
The way race scheduling worked this year, JCR Honda-supported Evan Kelly was unable to defend his Lightweight Expert championship if he wanted to go for the more prestigious Heavyweight Expert title since both classes run concurrently. But realizing that the Heavyweight crown is more prestigious, he opted for it and easily scored the win over Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson and Agent Smith Racing Yamaha-mounted Junior Delgado.
But the Pros and Experts constitute just a small part of the typical Big 6 weekend. There seems to be a class for everyone from Pee Wees to Women to multiple divisions of old bikes to several classes of older riders even to sidehacks! Most competitors like to ride at least two classes in order to maximize track time, if the one-hour races (for most big-bike classes) aren’t enough, and the $50 (for the first class entered) post-entry fee isn’t exorbitant.
Speaking of Kurt Caselli, though he wasn’t at the Big 6 opener (having spent most of the week in Baja testing for the next month’s San Felipe 250 which he and Ivan Ramirez won last year), we were able to get a little more insight into his Dakar Rally experience.
Asked if he thought he might’ve done even better with more notice, he said, “Well, it was short notice, but I really had no idea what to expect or plan for so I don’t think it made a difference if I’d known earlier or not! It took me a few days to get used to the road book and navigating, but I felt like each day I progressed and learned a lot.”
Responding to those who felt he may have lucked into two stage wins, Caselli offered, “The first stage I won on day seven was a Best in the Desert-type stage with fast roads and hardly any real navigating. I was happy with the win, but I knew I had to do it again to make a statement.
“I had some major issues with missing [three] waypoints [the next day] that pretty much took me out of the [top overall race] results so I was really bummed about that.
“Stage 11 was a really good day for me. I caught the lead group, which included [eventual winner and factory Red Bull KTM teammate] Cyril [Depres] and was able to pass and pull away from him. We still had about 60 kilometers to go in the stage so I had to navigate through dunes and other virgin areas to get to the finish. I was really happy that I was out front and didn’t have any real navigating issues.”
Comparing Dakar to other big races he’s done, Caselli insisted there’s no comparison: “Dakar is on a page of its own. Over four million spectators, competitors from 30 different countries, 22,000 policemen hired to run [security and traffic] and an entry fee of $80,000–it really is in its own class as far as racing goes. The actual riding and racing part was surprisingly similar to the terrain you’d see in Southern California, Nevada and most Baja races.”
So does he see another Dakar and possibly a rally career in his future?
“I felt really comfortable in Dakar so I’d love to try and return with a lot more knowledge and confidence. My biggest concern is to continue my relationship with KTM and make a career decision based on their needs and wants. Time will tell!”
Waiting paid off for Taylor Robert. After Kawasaki announced late last year that it planned to drop its off-road team, many (including riders Robert, Destry Abbott and Justin Soulé) wondered if indeed Kawasaki would lose its off-road presence entirely.
Apparently not. Earlier this week, Robert announced he’d just signed a contract with Kawasaki that will see him concentrate on the AMA Racing/GEICO EnduroCross Championship Series.
However, Abbott is still working on his program (which also seems to focus in EX, including X Games) and Soulé seems to have switched focus, turning his attention to mountain bike racing at the moment.—Mark Kariya
Fox Open House
Even though riding a dirt bike is dirty, sweaty, grimy, muddy and sometimes bloody business, most riders want to look good doing it and for almost 40 years, Fox Brand gear has been helping riders out in that department. Starting as a parts distributor, Fox, with its Fox Head Logo, has become one of the most recognizable apparel companies in action sports.
Continuing its worldwide success, Fox relocated its international headquarters to Irvine, CA, and gave Dirt Rider a chance to check out the pretty impressive new structure. Centrally located in Orange County, the new office isn’t far from the surf, sand or snow, allowing the company to be in constant contact with action sports communities.
Supercross and Motocross racers including Chad Reed, Ryan Dungy and Ken Roczen were on hand to brake in the new building. While they will probably be filled with strategy meetings rather than bikes, there were some pretty impressive vintage motocross steeds occupying the modern and striking conference rooms. With many championship riders in the past, present champions continuing to win and future champions in the amateur ranks, Fox better save some room in their new building for a few more trophies.—Sean Klinger
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.