Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we take a look at a factory rally bike available to the public, the Perry Mountain 24 Hr race, Fahringer Gets First OMA Win, Norman To KTM and the World Trials round in Tennessee!
Adam Raga claimed a double victory at round two of the 2013 FIM Trial World Championship held at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee, this weekend. The factory Gas Gas rider took a clear victory on Saturday – the first of two days of competition, beating Repsol Montesa’s Toni Bou by an eight-point margin in a relatively low scoring event.
Raga returned on Sunday to take his second win of the year, although under much different circumstances. Overnight, the FIM modified four of the 12 sections, making them tougher after deciding that Saturday’s round was on the easy side. The FIM voted in new rules for 2013, which require the riders to maintain forward motion or receive a five for a stop, and both the organizers and the riders are adapting to the new restrictions, however, Raga seems to have mastered the new style better than his rivals.
Bou was in much better form on Sunday, and matched Raga almost point for point as the two riders entered the third and final lap tied with eight points each. Raga appeared to be on the ropes after he fived three of the first five sections. However, Bou fived section two, plus two of the final four sections to even up the score.
When all was said and done, Raga took the win by virtue of having one more clean than Bou, completing a sweep of the U.S. round. With the win, Raga now takes over the lead in the series standings, sitting one point ahead of Bou.
“On the last lap, the pressure may have led us to make more points,” said Raga. “Winning has not been easy and I’m very happy because I have shown a good level and it is good to leave here as the championship leader.”
Beta rider Jeroni Fajardo finished out the podium on Saturday, ahead of Sherco’s Albert Cabestany, while Bou’s Montesa teammate Takahisa Fujinami was third on Sunday, beating out fourth place finisher Jeroni Fajardo (Bet) with Cabestany in fifth.
American Pat Smage, a five-time US champ, turned in some brilliant rides and finished just outside of the top-10 each day, finishing 12th on Saturday and 11th on Sunday.
The weather couldn’t have been better for the U.S. round, which was the first world championship round held in the States in five years. Dan Brown and crew at the Trials Training Center did a fantastic job of accommodating the large contingent of spectators and also of hosting and coordinating the championship event.
Saturday: 1. Adam Raga (GG) 9; 2. Toni Bou (Mon) 17; 3. Jeroni Fajardo (Bet) 19; 4. Albert Cabestany (Shr) 24; 5. Takahisa Fujinami (Mon) 37; 6. James Dabill (Bet) 40; 7. Loris Gubian (GG) 57; 8. Matteo Grattarolla (GG) 62; 9. Alexandre Ferrer (Shr) 63; 10. Benoit Dagnicourt (Bet) 70.
Sunday: 1. Adam Raga (GG) 24; 2. Toni Bou (Mon) 24; 3. Takahisa Fujinami (Mon) 38; 4. Jeroni Fajardo (Bet) 40; 5. Albert Cabestany (Shr) 55; 6. James Dabill (Bet) 61; 7. Alexandre Ferrer (Shr) 83; 8. Loris Gubian (GG) 90; 9. Matteo Grattarolla (GG) 104; 10. Jack Challoner (Bet) 110.
Graffunder Wins Red Bull Rocks & Logs
Cory Graffunder won the inaugural Red Bull Rocks & Logs, a head-to-head endurocross-type competition that took place on a course filled with natural and man-made obstacles in Calgary, Canada. After a tight battle with Bobby Prachnau, Graffunder walked away with the win and a cash prize of $2,500.
“It was kind of a perfect day, I won all the heats and the final which was what I was hoping on doing. But there were some other fast guys here today and it definitely wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. The rain on Friday was worrying, but the sun came out and it really came together. The track itself is legit, it’s long and with lap times over a minute, it isn’t what we’re used to. The rocks were tough, but nothing was super gnarly.”
Competing in a head-to-head, in a knockout format, 90 riders took to the track – divided by class. The 65 riders in the Amateur category had three laps in their qualifying heats and four laps in the final to determine the champion. In the Pro category, the 25 riders did four laps in qualifying heats and then eight laps in the big finals.
Results: 1. Corey Graffunder, (Clearwater, BC); 2. Bobby Prachnau (Savona, BC); 3. Ben Rego (Kitimat, BC); 4. Malcolm Hett (Cherryville, BC); 5. Shane Cuthbertson (Airdrie, AB).
Team Action Kawasaki Wins Perry Mountain 24 Hr
Team Action Kawasaki TF R won the 12th annual Perry Mountain 24-Hour race this weekend in Maplesville, Alabama. Garrett Edmisten, Jacob Argubright, Josh Strang, Takeshi Koikeda, Ron Commo III, and Scott Gawler, Jr. teamed up to claim the $2500 first prize after completing 58 laps of the 10-mile course in 24 hours time.
Team Boog (Cliff Ousley, Jeff Parke, Hunter Williams, Darin Downs, Alex McRee, Damon Prince) pushed the Kawi team, and even led at one point in the race on their KTM 300, but eventually settled for second place, finishing 57 laps. Team Boog split $1500 for their efforts.
Valley Exteriors/Performance Supercycle (Josh Scott, Ryan Morphew, Brandon Ferguson, Jeff Cowan, Dalton Cross, Tanner McCoy) finished third after completing 55 laps on a KTM 250.
Here’s a cool video of the newly formed FMF/Orange Brigade/KTM Team and rider Joey Savatgy: http://youtu.be/35wAx5XWj_Y –Shan Moore
Kendall Norman to KTM!
After several months of rumors and speculation, Red Bull’s Kendall Norman confirmed he did indeed sign a contract last week to race factory-backed KTMs, his first official outing being this coming weekend’s 45th Tecate/SCORE Baja 500.
A number of competitors who’ve been pre-running visually confirmed that the longtime Honda racer is indeed aboard an orange machine now, and his teammate will once again be Ryan Abbatoye.
“In mid-April I got a call from KTM’s Antti Kallonen and he’d heard about some of the troubles I’d had with having an older bike and prepping and everything–running really behind going into [the] San Felipe  so he presented me an offer to basically give me full factory support, set up a factory pre-runner and factory race bike and basically call it not FMF KTM but Kendall Norman KTM but with their factory backing,” Norman revealed.
“It would only be for the 500 and the 1000.
“I’m like, ‘Wow, that sounds really cool!’
“But I was in Mexico when he called me so I got back to the [U.S.] and then he
goes, ‘Well, we had an accident at the hare & hound with Toby [Price] and we have a spot on our [FMF KTM] team if you want it.
“So there’s now two options.
“But I was committed with all my people and all the help that I was getting and Ryan Abbatoye to do the series [with me] because I didn’t expect an offer like that to come through.
“So I’m like, ‘Well, I appreciate both offers, but at this point I really just want to get my foot in the door with the first offer, which was to do my own deal with your support and see how things go.
“He was excited about that; he was for it.”
So, Norman gets a couple bikes, parts and a win bonus from KTM while Red Bull and other sponsors will cover other expenses. While he’s getting team bikes, if he has other sponsor commitments, he can run those parts.
“The really good thing is it’s a mid-year deal and I really only had a couple contracts going so there really weren’t any conflicts,” Norman said. “I was just kind of racing day by day because I didn’t really know [what would come up], but I knew I wanted to race Baja.”
After spending a couple days on the 450 XC-F, Norman noted, “It’s a lot different from what I’m used to and I’ve got to say it’s really fast! It’s a lot more forgiving on the rocks and holding lines and stuff–I think it’s something to do with the steel chassis.”
Being affiliated with both KTM and longtime personal sponsor Red Bull opens up other doors as well, as Norman has been offered the chance to ride the Red Bull Sea to Sky extreme enduro in Turkey.
“But my main focus for the rest of the year is the two Baja races. We’ll see what happens after that.”
He concluded, “For me, I’m really excited for the offer; I’m really thankful Antti saw the value in it and offered it to me. It’s exciting for me to have fresh equipment and something new [to ride again]. I’ve been riding the [CRF]450X since 2005 so to have a change, everything’s fresh and new–it’s fun.”
Meanwhile, over at the Springfield Armory Chaffee Crossing Cross-country National–round four of the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals–a new face stood on the top step of the podium: Nick Fahringer.
His Memorial Day weekend started out on the wrong foot, though. He box van- pooled with Husaberg’s Russell Bobbitt and not long after getting on the road in Georgia, they had to stop to change a flat.
Once they got to the venue at Fort Smith, Arkansas, they discovered that camping out in the box van demanded a bit more preparation than hoteling it.
“We were awake until about 4:00 A.M. because it was hot so we opened the door and the mosquitoes came in so it wasn’t until about 3:00 o’clock in the morning that we decided to put bug spray on,” Fahringer recalled. “It was just kind of funny. It was like your typical Memorial Day camping trip.”
Despite that, the AirGroup/Radiant Racing Husaberg rider enjoyed his best OMA ever, getting a good start and moving to the front early in slick, sometimes muddy conditions after an earlier storm. Five-time and defending series champion Paul Whibley tried to mount a challenge but couldn’t quite catch Fahringer, thus ending up second for the second consecutive round while Bobbitt kept his run of consistent podium finishes intact with third. That keeps Bobbitt on top in points with 102 while Fahringer holds second at 92, just one point better than FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team’s Kailub Russell who was fourth on the day.
In the newly instituted Pro 2 class, local favorite Josh Weisenfels took the win over Zach Ingram and Kole Henslee. They were also fifth, sixth and seventh overall.
“I’ve known I could do it and lot of [other] people have known it,” Fahringer said. “It just seems like for me being an enduro rider, I’ve got the riding [down]; it’s more the racing I had to grasp and I think I really proved to myself and everybody else, not only can I ride, but I can race and race to win. That’s exciting.”
If rally bikes get you excited, how’d you like to buy a factory replica? Speedbrain is now offering just such a machine in its Speedbrain 450 Rally. Not just a dressed up Husky rally bike, Speedbrain builds these in its facility in Germany using the lessons learned in the major world rallies. For 19,990 Euros, you get a slim works-level machine with carbon-fiber fairing, Akrapovic exhaust, Speedbrain’s rally-centric (very stable at speed) chassis and much more. The package has a claimed weight of 293 pounds and tops out at 106 miles per hour.
The kicker is that it comes standard in street-legal trim! Well, at least it’s street- legal in Europe and most other places in the world; Speedbrain probably won’t homologate it for U.S. road use due to DOT, EPA and other standards.
Still, wouldn’t it be the coolest dual-sporter to ride around here? –Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.