Gas Gas FSE450
KTM 450 EXC
Look for up-close pictures of these exotic beauties in the May issue of Dirt Rider.The setup this year was different from before. Each bike was assigned a team responsible for keeping their bike running for the full 24 hours. The pits were run at a race pace, stopping only for gas, air filters, oil changes and necessary maintenance. The manufacturers were encouraged to supply riders for their teams, and they all came through with an impressive level of support. American Honda’s entire off-road team showed up to test the new CRF450X: Johnny Campbell, Steve Hengeveld, and newcomers Kendall Norman and Robbie Bell. Yamaha’s team was headed up by Zip-Ty Racing’s Ty Davis and Nathan Woods, KTM’s pro testers included Mike Lafferty, Robbie Jenks, (and still on Dakar time) Scot Harden and Kellon Walch.Harden brought along his Dakar bike, the Red Bull KTM 700cc Rallye. It caused quite a spectacle in the pits when Lafferty mounted the big 700 to do a night ride on the 24-hour course.Gas Gas supplied a full factory effort for the test. They also brought along a few of their 280cc Pro trials bikes, the same model ridden by 9-time World Trials Champion Geoff Aaron.Husaberg came all the way from Canada, and Husqvarna used a hard core bunch of local desert racers to keep things spinning. More impressive yet was the efforts of Sherco and TM—very small guys taking on a big challenge to show what thier bikes are made of by participating in our 24-Hour.Even though Suzuki wasn’t a part of the test, RM-Z450-mounted Mike Kiedrowski showed up for the event along with current GNCC champ Rodney Smith (in a full-leg cast).
We sat down with Rodney and got the scoop on his injury:
How’d it happen?
About three weeks ago now I went to a local motocross, which was actually really good, [put on by] GFI North. Sunday during the moto, I was all by myself, with just four turns to the finish on the last lap. I was running third in the 250 pro class. I caught my foot in a rut, twisted it back and just fractured the lower tibia.What’s the prognosis?
Doctors said it’s a good three-month injury. It’s not a bad break, it’s just a fracture in my tibia right above my ankle. But unfortunately, [the doctor] said I’d almost be better off if I’d broken both the tibia and fibia, as far as healing time. He said he could have gone in and plated them and I’d be back quicker. But he said it’s a three-month injury. Maybe I can come back sooner than that, we’ll just wait and see how well it heals.So you’re going to take the full time you need and not try to rush things?
We figured it all out, and even if we got aggressive and did surgery, there was no way I was going to make Georgia which is round three (of the GNCC series).We decided to just let it heal. [Missing] three races, I’m out of the Championship, so if I miss four or five, it doesn’t really matter. We’re going to let it heal right and I’ll be back when I’m ready to race.
Now that Smith is out of contention for the ’05 GNCC Championship, he’s focusing his energy on new teammate and protégé, Glenn Kearny. Kearny had many people at the 24-hour wondering who “that guy on the Suzuki out on the track” was. Not only was his speed impressive, but his endurance was incredible. We watched the Aussie moto like a madman for hours at a time.There was some heavy (and seriously fast) traffic on the I-5 MX track. Although it was groomed and watered Tuesday morning, the conditions quickly turned rough after taking a beating from pros like Mike Kiedrowski, Juha Salminen, Mike and Jeff Alessi, Russell Pearson, Elmer Symonds, Kurt Caselli, Homero Diaz and Brian Garrahan. But the track’s choppy conditions delighted the off-road riders: “The track is so awesome right now. It’s all rutted up!” said former Hare & Hound Champ Russ Pearson.Bobby Bonds suffered a pretty bad wad-up in early January, but was already out riding his new RPM Racing KTM 450 SX. From the way he was clicking off laps, it sure didn’t look like he had a broken collarbone, broken leg, five broken ribs and a punctured lung less than a month ago. Bonds was sidelined for Round 1 of the WORCS series, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in time for Round 2 (Mesquite, NV this Sunday).Always a big part of our 24-hour participants are BlueRibbon Coalition and NOHVCC (National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council) volunteers. These “land-use activists” are the fighting force behind keeping OHV areas open for everyone. Each volunteer guest worked a minimum of 25 hours maintaining trails, cleaning up riding areas, writing letters to politicians and other activities to promote and protect OHV recreation on public lands.Invited volunteers got to come out and ride with us, and also participate in our first 24-Hour Poker Run complete with prizes such as autographed jerseys and new tires. They were a fun group of guys to have join us, and as always, were an important part of our 24-hour. For more on the BlueRibbon Coalition, visit www.sharetrails.org. For more on the NOHVCC, visit www.nohvcc.org.Ty Davis on the 24-hour:
What did you think of the test?
“This year seems to be really well-organized. They’ve been really good about getting the bikes out there constantly. The trails are good, and you couldn’t ask for better conditions. The traction was just awesome and even at night it was still good. You could ride behind someone and not get fully dusted out.There were a lot of people! There have always been big turn outs, but they were mostly just there to hang out. This year there were a lot of people involved in the test. It’s neat to see so many [new faces] like Sherco, Husaberg and Husqvarna. For them to participate is probably a big [effort]. Besides KTM, you never really see a European bike over here. It’s like [in Europe]; you never see a Japanese bike. So it’s neat that they all came over and participated.How was the night riding?
I thought it was good. It was pretty quiet at 3 in the morning out there. You’re looking around for headlights thinking, “Am I the only one out here?” Then there’s what happened to Jimmy Lewis [Jimmy ran out of gas around 1 a.m. on the A loop. He was stranded for so long he actually fell asleep waiting for the next rider to come by]. Everyone else was doing the B loop and he sat out there for an hour! I didn’t want that to happen to me. I didn’t carry anything – no spares, nothing. I was working against all the odds. I thought, “Man, if something goes wrong, I’m screwed. Just don’t do anything stupid!”
We have a lot of people to thank for making it such a great event. We were impressed by the level of support we recieved from manufacturers, pro riders, Rangers, trail volunteers and team riders. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, we were able to pull off a great event and give the bikes a solid 24-hour workout without Jimmy’s head exploding.So what were the results of the 24-hour test? Did all the bikes finish? Who came out on top? Was it a big upset or did it turn out just like you thought? You’ll have to wait for the May issue of Dirt Rider to get all the details of the 2005 450cc off-road shootout.