By the DR Staff
Welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week Ryan Sipes retires, Mullins wins the Powerline GNCC and there’s a lot of money up for grabs at this weekend’s Cross Timbers National Enduro in Oklahoma. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get to it.
New Honda And KTM Battle In Morocco Rally
Remember the new Honda CRF450 Rally we showed you last week? Right after getting that photo, we got word of KTM’s new rally machine, with both slated to make their worldwide competition debuts at the OiLibya Rally of Morocco that started on Monday.
The new KTM 450 Rally is shorter, lighter, more nimble and faster than its predecessor, according to Kurt Caselli who’s ridden both the previous version and the new one: “It feels more like a regular 450.”
So which is the better rally bike?
We’ll reserve judgement, but the Honda did impressively well on the first day in Morocco with all five machines in the top seven, Team HRC’s Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda winning the sandy stage by just over three minutes on Red Bull KTM Factory Rally Team’s Marc Coma. Paolo Goncalves made it a Honda 1-3. (The four new KTMs went 2-5-12-17.)
As for Caselli, he fared okay, but the tricky navigation bit him and he ended up missing a waypoint. Originally credited with a 10th-place finish for the stage, the organizers docked him 20 minutes, dropping him to 17th.
A rockier second stage saw the new Honda out front yet again, this time Goncalves leading the way over Coma while Sam Sunderland recovered from a slight navigation error early on to claim third for the day on another Team HRC machine. However, the new Honda of Helder Rodrigues–who started the day in fourth position–quit with an electrical gremlin less than 10 miles from the finish.
Caselli enjoyed a much better day, finishing eighth for the stage and moving up to 14th overall.
Though Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s Robby Bell already had the championship locked up, he added a fourth series victory at the finale of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) in Primm, Nevada. Early leader Bobby Garrison wound up a close second on his Moose Racing Kawasaki while RPM Racing KTM’s Justin Jones–who holeshot and led the first lap–claimed third. Coincidentally, they finished in that order in final series points, Bell at 202, Garrison with 170 and Jones totaling 165.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert is looking at a lot of air miles as the year winds down and he doesn’t. He posted the best score of all Americans at the ISDE in Italy just over a week ago, of course, then followed that with a third-place finish at round four of the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series in Denver. This week, he’s in Ecuador for an extreme enduro and when he returns next week, it’s off to Seattle for round five of the EnduroCross with round six two weeks later in Boise. It’s then time to switch modes again as he joins the THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts team for the Baja 1000 before the EnduroCross finale in Vegas the week after that!
Though he doesn’t have a racing contract yet for 2014, David Kamo knows he’ll be hitting at least a couple races next year–in Japan! He’s been invited to compete in a couple of cross-country races there aboard factory-massaged Hondas on consecutive weekends at the end of February. (That means he’d be unable to race the San Felipe 250, the opening round of the SCORE Desert World Championship, of course.)
Ryan Sipes Announces Retirement
After 10 years of supercross and motocross racing, Ryan Sipes announced his retirement this week. The Rockstar Energy Racing-back rider from Kentucky has two Lites Supercross wins to his credit and most recently competed in the ISDE in Sardinia, Italy, where he won the C3 class. While in Italy, Sipes hinted at going into off-road racing, and said in a statement that he is “excited about what the future holds for him.”
Here is Sipes’ statement:
I have decided to retire from full time professional supercross and motocross. God has blessed me these past 10 years, racing the best riders in the world, riding the best bikes, on the best tracks, in the best series’, in front of the best fans on earth, and getting to know a lot of great people in the moto community. We made some great memories, and that’s something that will stick with me forever. It’s been a good run, but its time for this old hillbilly to step away and be with his family. I still love riding and racing, and I will surely miss lining up at Anaheim in January and Hangtown in May, but my priorities are at home now. The full schedule is just not in the cards for me anymore. That’s not to say I won’t do SOME racing…once a racer, always a racer. I am excited for what the future holds for me. Over the years I have worked with some really great people, without whom I wouldn’t have had the success I experienced.
We wish Ryan luck in whatever he decides to do.
Mullins Wins Powerline GNCC
Charlie Mullins worked his way back into title contention and put an end to Kailub Russell’s five-race winning streak at this weekend’s ITP Powerline Park GNCC in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Coming into the race, Russell held a seven-point lead over his FMF/KTM teammate, but with his win, Mullins drew to within two points of Russell with one round remaining.
In Ohio, on a hard-packed and dusty 12-mile track, Mullins prevailed after three hours of grueling racing, beating Russell by almost two minutes to the checkered flag. Paul Whibley, who won the $250 All Balls Racing Holeshot Award, finished third on his AmPro Yamaha, with RockyMoutain ATV/MC’s Josh Strang and Am Pro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn rounding out the top five.
This weekend’s Cross Tombers National Enduro in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will be the last chance for someone to win the $5,000 Airgroup Bounty by winning all six tests.
Charlie Mullins already has wrapped up the championship so he will be pulling out all of the stops for the extra cash, and Russell Bobbitt is coming off wrapping up the OMA championship.
Jesse Groemm and Andrew Delong have momentum from their podium finishes at the Black Coal, and Nick Fahringer is coming off a strong showing at the ISDE.
However, if one rider wins five tests and a “spoiler” wins one test and wrecks his payday, then the spoiler will get $1,000 for their efforts.
For more info on the Cross Timbers National Enduro or on the Rekluse AMA National Enduro Series you can visit www.nationalenduro.com.—Shan Moore
Keefer On The Loose At The Denver EX
Last Saturday night I had the chance to race my third ever AMA GEICO EnduroCross in Denver, Colorado. While I’m a motocross guy at heart I grew up racing off-road and I’ve always loved and respected the sport. I ended up qualifying for both Amateur and Expert night shows (yes you can race both) and was pleased on my riding (even though I never practice EnduroCross). Testing takes up most of my time and most of that is on a motocross track lately, so I can’t complain about my finishes. I ended up getting fourth in the Amateur Main Event and had a qualifying spot in the Expert Heat race to go to the Main until a crash left me in the back of the pack. The reason for me writing this is not to talk about me however, it’s to talk about how much fun racing and watching EnduroCross really is. Coming from that motocross background I was referring to, I couldn’t help notice how different it is than moto, especially with the family atmosphere and camaraderie with all of the riders. I n no particular order here are three reasons why you should either go race an EnduroCross or take the family and watch one.
1. You can actually race inside of an arena! How cool is it that you can race in front of thousands of people under the lights? EnduroCross has many classes for your ability. Over the age of 35 and want to race some old dudes? Sure they have that! Are you an amateur and want to test your skill over some rocks and logs? Sure they have that too! Are you a woman who chews up men and spits them out when you go trail ride? You can race too! Support classes are some of the most exciting races on any given night at an EnduroCross. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. They even have a trials class for all you non-dabbing lovers out there!
2. Strolling the pits. It’s free to go inside the pits and talk with your favorite rider. These riders are not only gnarly on dirt bikes they are really down to earth and approachable people. My son is a super fan of all the EnduroCross riders and they all take the time to say hello to each and every one of their fans.
3. There are no guarantees in EnduroCross. You could have a lead of seven seconds and your cruising to the win and…Bam! It’s erased. I know this from experience! I was leading my qualifier by a comfortable margin and it was gone because the woodpile ate me alive. There is always action going on somewhere on the track. To me this racing is more exciting to watch than a Supercross. Yes, I said it! —Kris Keefer
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.