If the race is in Nevada, never count out a Pearson. That’s what Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson proved at the Moapa Valley Offroad Roundup, hosted by the Darkside Motorcycle Club in Logandale, Nevada, the eighth and final round of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.

He picked up his first career series victory last year in the series finale outside of Laughlin, Nevada, then won this season at round five in Panaca, Nevada.

Though he led almost from start to finish, teammate Nick Burson (who’d locked up the championship last month at round seven) closed in from a bad start and put the pressure on as they raced around the mostly sandy 18-mile loop.

“I’m not the best sand rider; Nick’s definitely better than me in the sand,” Pearson admitted. “Sand and whoops are two things that I’m not really great at I feel like, so I was a little worried that he was going to catch me through some of those big sand whoops.

“I rode pretty decent and I just kind of rode a fast pace but a smooth pace; I didn’t make any big mistakes. It was good enough to hold him off.”

What sealed it for Pearson was Burson discovering two broken spokes in his rear wheel as he headed out for the last lap. Determined to salvage the race, he removed them and continued at a gentler pace and ended up holding onto second place, nearly four minutes behind Pearson but preserving the Purvines Racing Beta 1-2.

Nick Burson & Axel Pearson, AMA WHS 2016 Finale
Runner-up Nick Burson (left) and teammate/winner Axel Pearson celebrate their 1-2 finish at the Moapa Valley Offroad Roundup, the WHS finale. Burson locked up the championship at the previous round while Pearson bumped himself to third in final points with his third series win to date.Photo by Mark Kariya

The new champ looked back at the season and reported, “I won the races that I needed to that were my specialty. I got out of the first half of the year [better than expected]. I was hoping to be in striking distance of the championship and I came out with a 10- or 12-point lead after all the tree rounds. With the way the schedule played out with all the desert rounds at the end instead of mixed in, it worked well for me.”

Indeed it did as he ended the season with 182 points, IRC Tire Yamaha rider Justin Bonita second in points with 134 after finishing fourth at the Moapa race. (Pearson’s victory bumped him from fifth to third in final points with 101 while SRT KTM’s Cory Graffunder—the defending series champ who missed the final three rounds due to them conflicting with his EnduroCross schedule—ended up fourth with 92.)

Third for the day went to Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts Yamaha rider Justin Morgan, the first-time winner from the previous race enjoying his second series career podium before jumping into his truck immediately to head south and continue his Baja 1000 pre-running. He ended the series fifth in points at 86.

Holeshot winner Damon Bush who grew up in the area put in his best ride of the season to hold onto fifth overall, commendable for the Purvines Racing Beta rider who just moved to the big four-stroke from 250s a few months ago.

Taylor Stevens, AMA WHS 2016 Finale
Out with injury for much of the year, Taylor Stevens finished the season on a high note by winning the FMF Pro 250 class and finishing seventh overall.Photo by Mark Kariya

Open A winner Gavin McCarthy, FMF Pro 250 winner Taylor Stevens, 250cc A winner Logan Lee, 200cc A winner Ryan Karell and sixth-place Pro Curtis Bradley rounded out the top 10 overall.

Krista Conway, AMA WHS 2016 Finale
After a back-and-forth battle with series regular Sharon Mowell, Krista Conway made one last, late pass stick to claim her first win of the season. Mowell (not shown), triumphant once this season, held on for second, though it made no difference in her second place in final series points.Photo by Mark Kariya
Hagen Boyce, AMA WHS 2016 Finale
A regular in the AMA Youth H&Hs, Hagen Boyce took to a WHS for only the second time this season, but he made it count. After a killer holeshot, he stayed out front the rest of the race to end the season with a win. However, series regular Mason Matthies (not shown)—who left the line far behind after starting issues yet rebounded to finish second—ended up the class champ.Photo by Mark Kariya