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.
Whibley Takes GNCC Title
Paul Whibley turned a clutch win into another GNCC title, winning the final round of the Grand National Cross Country Series at Loretta Lynn’s in Tennessee this past weekend in a virtual flag-to-flag romp. Whibley threw away a small lead in the title chase at the Ironman just three weeks before the Tennessee race when he ran out of gas on the back side of the track, and because of that, he came into the series finale at Loretta’s sitting one point behind Kailub Russell in the title chase. Interestingly, Whibley had held the points lead from the start of the season and then losing it at the next to last race must have fired him up, because at the drop of the flag the AmPro Yamaha rider jetted into the lead on the rocky Loretta Lynn tundra and then pulled away on the moto portion of the course.
Russell, on the other hand, got a slow jump at the start and then tangled with Aussie Daniel Milner in the first turn and went down. The FMF/KTM rider was next to last (just ahead of Milner) when he got going again and then admittedly suffered severe arm pump during the first two laps of the race. And while he moved into fourth by the second lap, Whibley was long gone by the time Russell moved into second at the midway point of the race.
At the finish, Whibley took the checkered flag with two minutes to spare over Russell to claim his second XC1 title, his first coming in 2009.
“It’s awesome to finally get this title back,” said Whibley. “Ever since I lost the title in 2010 I have been on a mission to win it back.”
Second in the race and second overall for the series went to Russell.
Am Pro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn rounded out the podium in the race, however, WMR KTM’s Rory Mead finished third in the series standings.
1. Paul Whibley (Yam)
2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
3. Jordan Ashburn (Yam)
4. Thad DuVall (Hon)
5. Takeshi Koikeda (KTM)
6. Rory Mead (KTM)
7. Adrian Smith (Yam)
8. Nate Kanney (Hon)
9. Brenden Ritzman (Hon)
10. Chris Bach (Yam)
XC2 Pro Lites Results:
1. Andrew DeLong (HSQ)
2. Jason Thomas (KTM)
3. Jedediah Haines (YAM)
4. Steward Baylor (KTM)
5. Scott Grills (HON)
6. Chris Douglas (KTM)
7. A.J. Stewart (YAM)
8. Ricky Mair (KTM)
9. Samuel Evans (KTM)
10. Zach Nolan (KTM)
Bobbitt Wins National Enduro Series Finale
Russell Bobbitt closed out the 2012 AMA Rekluse National Enduro Series with a well-deserved victory – his first of the year – at the season finale in Maplesville, Alabama, holding off a late charge by Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer to take the win by a 24-second margin.
After suffering through what he described as a “tough” year, Bobbitt turned it all around at the Alabama race, winning three of the last five tests after getting off to a relatively slow start in the opening test. With the win, the FMF/KTM rider finished out the 2012 standings in third place overall.
“It feels good to finally get the win,” said Bobbitt. “We made several changes to the bike and I think it made a difference. I felt better on the bike and I was able to flow through the sections a little better.”
Fahringer won two tests en route to a second-straight runner-up finish, and ended the season on a high note after struggling all year to match his three-win performance at the end of last year.
“Obviously I’m disappointed that I didn’t get a win this year, but I felt like I proved myself at the end of the year,” said Fahringer. “The pressure was off today and I just went out and had a good time and I ended up riding a good race.”
Brad Bakken edged Husaberg’s Michael Lafferty by 14 seconds to claim the final podium spot, the Obermeyer Yamaha/Offroadvikings/Raines Racing-backed rider capitalizing on a quick start that saw him win the first test of the day. Bakken lost considerable time in the second test when he got hung up with two slower riders, but fast times in the final two tests enabled the Virginia rider to pull back ahead of Lafferty at the finish.
Lafferty finished out the day in fourth overall on a 2013 Husaberg, while New Jersey KTM rider Jesse Groemm rounded out the top five. Groemm also finished out the year as the top-finishing rookie Pro.
Newly crowned series champ Stu Baylor broke his collarbone in a practice crash on the Thursday before the Alabama race and ended up watching the race from the sidelines.
In the 2012 final standings, Baylor finished out the year with a total of 242 points, with Lafferty ending the year in second with 207. Bobbitt was third overall for the year with 167 points, while Fahringer and Groemm rounded out the top five overall with 146 and 130 points, respectively.
1. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
2. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
3. Brad Bakken (Yam)
4. Michael Lafferty (Hsb)
5. Kesse Groemm (KTM)
6. Shane Hufford (Hsb)
7. Grant Baylor (KTM)
8. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
9. Geoff Braico (KTM)
10. Ian Blythe (KTM)
World Trials Returns to America
If you’re into trials, then you will be happy to learn that the amazing spectacle of World Observed Trials returns to the United States with a two-day stop of the FIM World Trials Championship schedule on May 25-26, 2013 at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee.
Among the athletes expected to be vying for honors at the U.S. round will be Six-Time World Champion Toni Bou, along with fellow Spaniard and former world champ Adam Raga, five-time U.S. Champ Patrick Smage, 2010 U.S. Champ Cody Webb, plus a bevy of top riders from all over the world.
The Trials Training Center is considered one of the top trials venues in the world and on May 15-26 it will become a unique test of the best “feet-up” riders in the universe with its majestic and deep flowing round of the FIM World Trials Championship visit www.trialstrainingcenter.com.
FMF Launches FMF SNAP
FMF Racing has just launched an interesting new product called the FMF SNAP. According to our friends at FMF, the SNAP increases airflow from filter to the valves quicker which means faster response.
The benefits are:
•BETTER THROTTLE RESPONSE & MORE TORQUE
•NO FUEL OR JETTING CHANGES REQUIRED
The price for the SNAP is $99.99 and for more info you can go to www.fmfracing.com. – Shan Moore
Pearson penalty hands Caselli the H&H title
Though he put himself in a 60-point hole by scoring no points after a crash at round five left him with a broken shoulder, Kurt Caselli stayed in the hunt for the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship by winning every race he finished, including the ninth and final round near Lucerne Valley, California.
Going into the finale, he trailed 2007 champ David Pearson by eight points, setting this scene: To repeat as champion, Caselli needed to win and have Pearson finish third or worse.
FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team star Caselli did just what he needed to do at the finale, essentially leading from start to finish and winning for the seventh time in the nine-round tour.
Once he finished, he could only turn around and wait to see where Pearson finished. His heart undoubtedly sank when the THR Motorsports rider rolled up less than two minutes later, the second man to take the checkers.
But minutes later, officials from the 100s Motorcycle Club that hosted the race penalized Pearson five minutes for not refueling on top of a BLM-required catch mat.
As witnessed by many, Pearson pulled into his pit area not far behind Johnny Campbell Racing Honda’s David Kamo, whom he’d been chasing for most of the 40-mile first loop. Tired of eating dust, Pearson decided to make up some time in the pits, so when he grabbed his dump can from his startled pit person, continued down the pit refueling himself and dropped the can at the end of pit row.
“I pulled an ‘innovative’ move in the pits,” he said. “There’s nothing in the rule books against it. Leaving the pits, Kamo missed the course anyway and I was able to get by him.”
And while it may not have been prohibited by AMA rules, the rider instructions stipulated refueling be done on top of a mat, thus the penalty–five minutes–demoting Pearson to an official sixth place finish in the race and handing the championship to Caselli.
But there was no celebrating in either camp. Pearson filed an appeal with the AMA, throwing the championship in limbo.
“I feel bummed,” Caselli said. “It’s a bummer for a national series to come down to a protest for the number-one plate, and it definitely takes away from what I feel I’ve done all year. The championship isn’t won–it’s earned.”
Later in the week, AMA Off-Road Racing Manager Chuck Weir related, “The request for appeal was denied due to the Riders Instructions [which] contains a requirement that a mat be used during refueling. This violation was witnessed by the Referee and that becomes a ‘Statement of Fact’ and is non-appealable. The results will stand.” Thus, the final tally: Caselli, 210 points, Pearson, 203.
In a written statement from THR Motorsports, Pearson expressed his regret: “I want to apologize to all my sponsors, fans and organizers for this. They (THR Motorsports, Bob Bell and my team) put a lot of time and money into me winning the AMA Championship. I think this experience was costly, but I can learn a lot from it as a rider and a person. I saved a couple of seconds, but it cost me an entire championship.”
And while Caselli somewhat belatedly clinched the title for the second year in a row, he probably didn’t celebrate immediately after the AMA decision since he was already headed to Baja where he and the FMF/KTM crew will be facing both THR Motorsports and JCR Honda for not only the Baja 1000 win but with it, the SCORE championship. – Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week. Be sure to check on next week for more Weekly Dirt!