It’s March, Speed Week is just around the corner, and we’re knee-deep in off-road action here at Dirt Rider. Out west, Bobby Garrison turned in an impressive ride at the WORCS race in Primm, Nevada, riding a privateer Kawasaki to a 1-1 overall win. But I’ll start off talking about the opening round of the Rekluse/AMA National Enduro Series, in Salley, South Carolina, which is where I was at this weekend.
By the standards he had previously set, you could say that Russell Bobbitt had a bad year in 2010. The factory KTM star and three-time national enduro champ was off his game during last year’s series and was only able to get one win over the course of the entire year 10-round national series. The biggest problem was a nagging shoulder injury – the result of a crash at the ISDE in Portugal. Bobbitt just couldn’t seem to get over it. Rumors were that Russ was one of the last guys to get signed for the 2011 season. Well, the Georgia flyer made KTM look good for re-signing him after he dominated the opening round of the series in the tight and sandy trails of the Carolinas.In all, Bobbitt won four of the six special tests (including the first three) and after 75 miles of racing, claimed the overall win by a 48-second margin over KTM privateer Brad Bakken. Both Bobbitt and Bakken were riding 250 two-strokes, and they absolutely railed the sandy turns that littered the course.
Interestingly enough, there was quite a mix of bikes in the top eight at the end of the day. First, there were the KTM 250 two-strokes ridden by Bobbitt and Bakken. Third place went to Michael Lafferty on a 570 Husaberg (switching from the 450 he rode last year). Fourth was factory KTM rider Cory Buttrick on the new 350 XCF; fifth went to privateer Steward Baylor Jr. on another KTM 250 two-stroker; sixth went to Charlie Mullins on the big KTM 450 SXF; seventh was Nick Fahringer on a 450 Husaberg and eighth went to Am Pro Yamaha’s Thad DuVall riding a YZ250F with an Athena 290cc kit! Now that’s a pretty diverse lineup and, of course, everyone had their theories on how to deal with the tight, sandy course.
As for Mullins, the Ohio rider claimed six wins during last year’s series, winning the title in his rookie season on a privateer Obermeyer-backed YZ450F. Last year he started on row 27 and benefitted from the veterans riding on the rows in front of him who were burning in the trail for everyone behind them. This year, Mullins is the first pro rider to start each test so he is the one burning in the lines and in South Carolina he missed several corners due to not being able to see the trail. Seeing trail is what enduro riders do best! Especially the old school guys, so that might be an area that Charlie needs to pick up on. But don’t count Hotrod out just yet. Last year he came back from a DNF and still won the titles. So a sixth place finish isn’t too much to overcome, for sure.By the way, Kailub Russell was a spectator at the South Carolina race. The factory KTM rider told me that he’s been spending the winter at Zach Osborne’s Club MX here in South Carolina, getting ready for the GNCC series. Kailub is moving up to the XC1 class this year and he said he’s worked out a pretty program and he really likes the new 350 XCF. “Coming off the 250F, the 350 feels awesome,” were his exact words. Sounds like a warning for the rest of the class!
A lot is going to be said about the whole James Stewart/Chad Reed incident at the Atlanta Supercross, and since I wasn’t there I can’t say much, other than I felt James opened the door and Chad took the bait. Of course, that’s just from the view I got on television. And everyone will have their own opinion. I don’t think Chad meant for either of them to go down, but I can’t say for sure. Anyway, Steve Cox was there and he has a good angle on it over on GrindTV, so check out his blog at http://www.grindtv.com/moto/blog/24744/what+really+happened+atlanta/.In Primm, Garrison began his quest for the 2011 WORCS title with the best possible start in the new two-moto format, taking a pair of wins over Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert and KTM’s Kurt Caselli. Garrison actually went out and bought his own bike and is racing for Kawasaki contingency money. Kawi pays $2000 for its “Top Privateer”, so Garrison walked away with a bit of cash for his efforts. After suffering injuries the last couple of years, it’s good to see Garrison healthy and up to speed.
Right now I’m camped out at a campground in Ocala, Florida with fellow Dirt Rider photographer Jeff Kardas. Kardy will be heading to Daytona on Friday to shoot Saturday’s Supercross, while I’ll be heading to River Ranch to cover the opening round of the GNCC series. I’ll also cover the Alligator Enduro on Thursday, which will see the return of David Knight to US racing. Then I will hit the Georgia GNCC on the 13th before heading back home to Oklahoma where I will recoup for a couple of days before heading out again. It’s going to be a busy few weeks so be sure to check back in. Hasta la Vista, baby.