Round 3 of the AMA/Kenda National Hare and Hound Series was held near Murphy, Idaho the weekend of March 24-25th, and after last year's race, I was excited to race there again. The start line was open for walking only prior to the race, so when the banner dropped on race day, I didn't really know what lay ahead. The start was really scary with random mounds and ditches all through the sage brush. I rode cautiously on the start and probably started around 25th overall. It was really hard to pass in the beginning of the course but once the trails widened out a bit, I was able to get around people and start moving forward. I had a good amount of arm pump for about the first 40 miles and once I hit the alternate pit, my arm pump was gone and I was able to push it all the way to the pits.
When I came into the main pits, I thought I was doing pretty bad because I felt like I had a bad start, but I was told I was in 12th overall (was really in 14th) and my reaction was, "Are you kidding me?" I was so surprised to hear that I was doing that good. Once I left the pits, I was on a mission to catch people because I really wanted a Top 10 finish. I rode hard the whole loop and was only able to catch 3 people to put me into 11th overall but I was still happy with that because it was the best overall finish I have gotten at a National Hare and Hound. The course was super fun and the rains earlier in the week helped out a bunch with the dust. The water crossings were a nice change from the deserts of Southern California and I can't wait to go back to Idaho for the Idaho City ISDE Qualifier in June, as it's quickly becoming one of my favorite places to ride. Thanks to Blais Racing Services, ESR suspension, Fasst Company, Troy Lee Designs, Leatt Brace my mom and dad, and all the other sponsors and people that have helped me out this year.
I started my day with getting the B row holeshot and I won a set of FLEXX bars, but that was about the best part of the day. I was battling hard with my teammate Brendan Crow, who later passed me kicking up a football sized rock into my radiator, which broke the mounts and left it hanging. I cruised the first 40 miles of Loop 1 to the alternate pit where the guys used zip-ties to attempt to hold my radiator up. By this time, I was in third place and went on my way. I got to the home pit where my team manager Chris Blais, my dad, and factory KTM mechanic Anthony D. rigged up my radiator. I left the pit for a very uneventful second loop to finish a solid 2nd place. I still was able to get a good finish so that was good.
By: Sam Bangert, 200 B**
My race didn't start off the way I wanted it to. First off, on the way to the start line, my bike stalls. I pull the choke and start kicking. Then, I notice the gas is off! Luckily Dean Crow was there to help me out. Off the bomb start I was about mid pack. I knew I was behind so I started charging. About 15 miles in I recognized a 200 so I really stepped up my game! I pushed even harder until I got right up behind him and just stalked the KTM 200 rider. When we caught up to other, it got tricky on the single track trail. The bushes on the side didn't give a bit. We took our chances and started passing one by one. I saw a water hole up in the distance so I wanted to get around the people in front of me, but unfortunately I ended up with my goggles covered in mud. I then made the worst decision ever.... I took my goggles off! That didn't work so I stopped and put them back on.
When I pulled in the pits at around mile 40, I saw my teammate Ben Meza pulled off to the side. Obviously something was wrong with him or his bike, so I kept trudging on. When I caught up to first place, it was a very uplifting experience. The second loop was a very fun single track trail that went down some fun hills and crossed a couple streams. I was having a blast when up ahead I saw it... a crowd of at least fifty people on the side of this hill. Talking to people that have been in Baja, they said, "Slow down when you see a group of people." So I slowed down. Sure enough, there where several water holes that we had to go through. I'm glad I listened to my mentors! I made it through all of them smoothly. After that, I sailed to the finish for my first win on my Blais Racing KTM 200! It felt awesome!! I'd like to thank God, my parents, Blais Racing Services, Bio Tear Offs, Speed Unlimited, Muscle Milk/CytoSport, ESR, Fasst Bars, Pro Moto Billet, TLD, and everyone else who helps me out.
Idaho is quite a long trek from Costa Mesa, CA. However, for the last two years it has been well worth the trip. On Saturday morning, we walked the bomb-run start. The bomb was not only a big hike from the staging/pit area, but was pretty long itself. My teammates Ben, Sam, and I journeyed the bomb for what felt like three hours. Then we headed into town to the local Ford dealership for some poster signings. It was pretty cool sitting next to Kurt Caselli under the KTM tent signing posters for all the people that came through. After that, about 25 of us sat down at TGI Fridays together, most of whom had made the pilgrimage from our D37 region. After all the chaos that was our pre-race dinner, we hit the hotel pool/spa before going to bed to race on Sunday.
Sunday, race day! We woke up and had some breakfast in the hotel before checking out and going to the race site for our last preparations. As we made it through pit row my dad had decided he was going to man up and race, just to say he had raced in Idaho. Sitting on the line it seems like me and Ben can't help but dance our nerves out. People may laugh, but hey, it helps calm my nerves before the start. Dirt Inc. was spot on in their starts because we got off the line 10-15min after the experts (the B row). My start was pretty good considering I had to start on a mound that I happened to not notice when picking out my spot (that will teach me to pay more attention), and was 3rd or 4th to the bomb. The bomb was extremely difficult as you could barely see what you were riding over and had to pin it and pray your line was good. I have to give a major shout out to my teammate Ben Meza for hauling and winning some bars for the holeshot! On a 200cc!! Apparently, a couple miles in, I passed Ben and threw up a boulder that broke his radiator guard and both mounts holding it on that put a dampener on his race... oops! I really loved the layout of the first loop and had a ton of fun in the sand washes that we went through, but I did get caught up in some of the experts that slowed me down a bit. Coming through the alternate pit and main pits, I couldn't have asked for anything better as both times I was gassed and ready to go before I could take a deep breath. The second loop was also fun, but I wasn't able to race it at my regular pace because I hit the wall pretty hard and had to slow down to make sure I didn't do anything stupid. Luckily, I had built up enough of a lead from the first loop that I would finish in the top spot of my class and 2nd amateur. Overall, I had a great time, and it was well worth the 25+ hours we had to spend in the car traveling.
Blais Racing Services rider and Idaho native, Shayla Fulfer, would charge hard during Loop 1 to catch up to ISDE racer, Nicole Bradford. At the main pit stop and only a few minutes behind Bradford, the 2011 Champ Fulfer, would complain of some sharp pains and muscle soreness caused by a hard crash earlier this year. She continued on for the finish and would cross the finish line in 2nd Place overall.
This bike was Chris Blais' 2005 Dakar Rally race bike #22. "It was sent to me with # 6 on it for some reason. It was freshly rebuilt before sending over to me and has about 2000 training miles on it. Suspension is stock but everything else is how I raced it in the 2005 Dakar Rally. I just did a tune up and completely serviced the Rally Bike. It is currently registered in the state of California, it has a green sticker, and we have the title in hand."
Blais Racing Services offers engine rebuilding and online parts for all your Motorcycle, ATV, & UTV needs. Owned and operated by Chris Blais, former Factory KTM Dakar Rally Racer. We specialize in KTM/ Honda, but can work on anything. I do all of the engine work myself. www.BlaisRacingServices.com