By the DR Staff
Happy New Year and welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we take a look at Beta’s big day at the National Hare & Hound. We also check in on the FIM SuperEnduro in Barcelona, plus James Stewart sounds off on his win in San Diego. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get going.
Burson, Beta Bag First National H&H Win
It had to happen eventually. At first, a podium finish was reason to celebrate, but after four thirds and a second last year, a simple podium finish just wasn’t good enough for Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson. In fact, when he finished third at the opening round of the AMA/SRT Hare & Hound National Championship Series two weeks ago, he motioned to winner Ivan Ramirez’s spot and said, “I’m getting tired of this; I need that.”
He got his wish at round two, the 64th Annual Moose Run hosted by the Four Aces Motorcycle Club near Ridgecrest, California, holding off repeated challenges by several others all day and scoring his first career National H&H overall.
“I started racing in the desert about nine years ago and only started racing [the full series] three years ago,” Burson said. “It feels great!”
Burson’s triumph also gave Beta and the Purvines Racing Beta team their first taste of National glory. Purvines Racing Beta team owner Ron Purvines said, “Last year was to learn the bikes. This year, we’re going for wins.”
They’ll face stiff competition, of course. Runner-up Ivan Ramirez of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team won round one and pushed Burson over the final miles to the finish, coming up just five seconds shy.
Bel-Ray/FMF/Moose Racing Husqvarna’s Jacob Argubright also demonstrated he’s got the speed to win, but his FC 450’s engine apparently broke while dicing with Burson about 30 miles in. Unfortunately for him and the new team, that marked his second straight DNF and has forced him to re-evaluate continued participation or whether he’ll concentrate instead on the AMA Western Hare Scrambles Championship where he won the opener and will be going for it again this weekend.
Another one to watch for will be Precision Concepts/THR Motorsports/O’Neal Racing Kawasaki’s Ricky Brabec. He got a good start and put himself into the lead pack mix right away, even passing Burson at one point on the first loop. After getting re-passed, he backed it down a notch through the rocks in order to avoid a brake-destroying incident that dropped him from second to fifth at round one. Brabec’s third place marked his first time on the podium, which showed when he found himself unable to pop the cork on the champagne afterward as quickly as the other two.
If in the unlikely chance that Burson isn’t in front in the future, one of his Purvines Racing Beta teammates will surely be there to fill in for him. Justin Morrow rode to fourth while Axel Pearson was fifth despite a rock breaking his brake pedal off.
Round two of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) also took place over the weekend but in Primm, Nevada. Bobby Bonds appeared to be heading for the win, which would’ve made for victories on consecutive weekends following his Big 6 triumph last weekend. Unfortunately for the R&D Motorsports Kawasaki rider, he fell and hurt his bad knee enough to head to the pits early, though he insisted it wasn’t too serious.
From there, Gary Sutherlin took over on his MotorcycleSuperstore.com KTM and cruised to his second straight WORCS victory to get a little win streak going. Defending WORCS champ Robby Bell fought through the pack after a three-kick start to finish second with Justin Jones third aboard his RPM Racing KTM.
While Destry Abbott is winding down his racing career, he remains fully involved in the sport, and his latest venture is training others at DA8 Training facility in Arizona. While its focus is physical training for the off-road racer, the benefits of his either his group classes or individual programs apply to anyone. The grand opening is Saturday, March 1, from 11:00 to 3:00 at 19209 N. 83rd Ave., Ste. 105, Peoria, AZ 85382.
Though entry numbers are small, they are coming in for SCORE’s opener, the 28th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250. KTM has still not announced whether or not it will participate in the race on March 1, though defending Class 22 champ Colton Udall has entered as well as Ricky Brabec, those being the only notable names as of Tuesday afternoon. —Mark Kariya
Taddy Blazusiak Sweeps Barcelona
Edging one step closer to a record breaking fifth consecutive world title, KTM Enduro Factory rider Taddy Blazusiak produced a flawless performance at the penultimate round of the SuperEnduro World Championship to secure the overall win.
Taking three race wins from three starts, Blazusiak deservedly put himself on the top step of the winner’s podium inside the Palau Sant Jordi stadium in Barcelona, Spain.
Entering the event with a comfortable 18-point advantage in the championship standings, the KTM rider quickly set about asserting his position at the head of the field. On a track that was incredibly slippery and demanding, the Polish rider posted the second fastest time in Super Pole qualification to take the second gate pick for final #1.
Quickly disposing of rival Alfredo Gomez, Blazusiak moved to the front of the field and secured his first win of the night. Avoiding the carnage in final #2, the KTM rider found himself out front at the end of lap one. Remaining mistake free for the seven-lap race he recorded his second victory of the night. Capping it off with his hat trick of wins in final #3, Blazusiak took the top step of the overall winner’s podium in Barcelona.
Now, with just one round of the series remaining, Blazusiak holds a 39-point lead in the championship standings and moves one step closer to securing his fifth world title.
The SuperEnduro World Championship concludes with the final round of the season in Tours, France on February 22.
Results – FIM SuperEnduro World Championship, Round 5
1. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM) 62pts; 2. Jonny Walker (KTM) 48pts; 3. Alfredo Gomez (Husqvarna) 42pts; 4. David Knight (Sherco) 41pts; 5. Joakim Ljunggren (Husqvarna) 37pts.
James Stewart Talks San Diego Win
James Stewart grabbed his first win of the season this past weekend at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider turned in an impressive ride, holding off series points leader Ryan Villopoto for all 20 laps of the race.
“I felt like I was riding good,” said Stewart. “This win has been six weeks coming, but I finally got a good enough start and the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 got me up front on the first lap. I felt great and, about halfway through the race, I felt even better. I just kept feeling stronger and stronger as the race went on. I have to hand it to the Yoshimura Suzuki team, they’ve been fighting for me. Now, hopefully we can build on this momentum as we head into Dallas. We’ll keep on fighting and keep on believing, and hopefully do it again.”
“[In San Diego] we were chasing the track all day, as far as setup,” said Stewart. “When we got first went out in practice it was tacky, and then the second practice it was kind of shiny, so we changed tires. Then in the third practice, the track changed and had a lot more moisture. The Heat race the track was kind of loose, and then in the main it was different again, so we were just kind of guesstimating what the track was going to be like each time. So in the main we took a big gamble and changed both tires, and normally we don’t do that, but it seemed to work.”
“I’ve been around for a while and I think this is probably the best I’ve ever been as far as race smarts, management, and conditioning,” said Stewart. “Even when I was training with Aldon, I feel like I’m stronger than I was then. Even though I won last year in Atlanta, I didn’t feel like I dominated. But tonight I came out here and I felt like this is where I belong.”
Behind The Scenes At The Husky Shoot
Husqvarna is making a big push this year in the world of off-road, and recently announced it’s off-road racing time, which consists of Russell Bobbitt, Mike Brown, Andrew DeLong and Jacob Argubright. Here’s a cool look at the recent Husqvarna off-road shoot:
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.