Hell’s Gate, Giant Loop Tracker Packer, Dunlop Spring Nationals, AMA West Hare Scrambles - The Weekly Dirt: February 18, 2015

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we have a report from Hell’s Gate, which was won by KTM’s Jonny Walker. We also have a look at the Giant Loop Tracker Packer, which was recently released by the Kurt Caselli Foundation. Finally, Kato brings us a report from the AMA West Hare Scrambles in Paicines, California. There’s plenty to go over, so let’s get going.

Jonny Walker Takes First Hell's Gate Win

took his first Hell’s Gate win this past weekend. Photo courtesy Future 7 Media took his first Hell’s Gate win this past weekend. Photo courtesy Future 7 Media

Extreme off-road star Jonny Walker struck again this weekend by winning what he called ‘the hardest race I’ve ever done’. Overcoming strong competition and punishing weather conditions, the factory KTM rider claimed his first ever win at Hell’s Gate in impressive style.

“Getting a first win anywhere is always good, but to get the win at Hell’s Gate with the weather as bad as it was makes this extra special,” said Walker. “More than usual it was a real team effort, I have to say a big thanks to Seb my mechanic and everyone else who helped during the weekend.”

According to Walker, the conditions were horrendous. “During the morning’s qualifying race they weren’t too bad I guess,” said Walker. “It was just foggy with a little rain towards the end. There was some snow on the track, but it wasn’t anything too crazy. It was during the main race where things started to get interesting. It was the toughest conditions I’ve ever raced in. There was water everywhere and a lot of snow. What made it so hard was the fact that the snow was so wet and heavy. There were so many tree branches hanging right where you needed to be riding. When you hit the branches you got a face full of cold, wet snow. At one point I had to stop to remove the snow from the front of my helmet. Also, my hands were so cold. I could hardly feel my handlebars after the first hour.”

Graham Jarvis battled with Jarvis during the early going, but the factory Husqvarna rider eventually dropped out due to drowning out his bike. In the end, KTM riders Mario Ramon (KTM) and Lars Enockl finished second and third behind Walker.

 Hell’s Gate 2015 - Overall results

1. Jonny Walker (KTM)

2. Mario Ramon (KTM)

3. Lars Enockl (KTM)

Giant Loop Tracker Packer

The Giant Loop Tracker Packer is a ruggedized holster for the SPOT Gen3 GPS-enabled location tracker and emergency beacon. Photo courtesy Caselli Foundation

The Kurt Caselli Foundation has just released its first officially endorsed safety product, the Giant Loop Tracker Packer, a ruggedized holster for the SPOT Gen3 GPS-enabled location tracker and emergency beacon.

Developed in conjunction with The Kurt Caselli Foundation, the super rugged and secure Tracker Packer firmly attaches the SPOT Gen3 device to the rider's arm, backpack shoulder strap, handlebars, fork tube, and many other locations. Redundant closures, multiple connections, and tether points, help prevent the SPOT from becoming separated from rider or bike, even in the roughest, most extreme riding conditions. The Tracker Packer enables riders to follow best practices by wearing the SPOT within reach, in a horizontal position for optimal satellite signal. By keeping the device in a visible, easy-to-access location, anyone on the scene can quickly deploy the SPOT's SOS signal in the event of an emergency, sending the GPS location to an international emergency response coordination center.

Made in USA with military-specification components and materials, the Tracker Packer is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. USA MSRP is $40. The Tracker Packer is available bundled with the SPOT Gen3 for $150 exclusively at Giant Loop A portion of all Tracker Packer sales will be donated to the Kurt Caselli Foundation.

Dunlop Announces Spring Nationals Support

Dunlop just announced a full schedule of amateur race support for the 2015 spring nationals. Expect to see the Dunlop semi at these events offering tire tips, rider support service, and sales of the complete line of Geomax® tires, including the new Geomax MX32 and MX52 tires.

The spring nationals kick off on February 23 – 27 with the Davi Millsaps AMA Amateur Championship Spring Classic at Millcreek MX Park in Pell City, AL, followed by the Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross on March 8 – 9 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, FL, then the 39th annual GNC International MX Final on March 12 – 15, at Oak Hill Raceway in Decatur, TX, and finally the James Stewart Freestone Spring Championship on March 16 – 21 at Freestone County Raceway in Wortham, TX.

Visit teamdunlop.com today to check out all the possibilities that open up with membership in the Team Dunlop community.—Shan Moore

Cory Graffunder Great At AMA West Hare Scrambles

The Salinas Ramblers M.C.’s private riding area is only opened for races once a year, and Cory Graffunder’s enjoyed success there in the past that he repeated with his victory at the Picacho Creek Challenge and Jr. Mendes/Ted Ponton Memorial, round two of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship Series. Photo By Mark Kariya
Joey Fiasconaro repeated his FMF 250cc Pro triumph from round one, coincidentally finishing 11th overall again, and earned $600 for his efforts. Photo By Mark Kariya
More than 550 riders came out for round two, making for some crowded starts. Here, Cody Rogers (728W) gets going to his eventual 10th in Open C. Photo By Mark Kariya
Del Sala gets a hug from dad after earning seventh in the 50cc C 7-8 category. It was reportedly the first time for father to witness son racing. Earlier, they’d loaned his bike to Bailey Rosbach who used it to finish fourth in 50cc A/B after Rosbach’s bike developed an electrical issue and didn’t start. Photo By Mark Kariya

Runner-up at round one, Cory Graffunder dominated two of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship Series near Paicines, California, on the hilly, challenging terrain of the Salinas Ramblers Motorcycle Club to earn the $1400 winner’s share of the purse.

But he didn’t see it as unexpected.

“I’ve done this race maybe three times before and always had great success here,” he related. “The last time I was here, I won pretty convincingly as well. I really love this place! The trails are awesome; there was some moisture out there today, and I knew if I could just get out front, it would be basically my race to lose.”

And that’s how it played out for the SRT KTM rider. He collided with Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson off the start but didn’t lose too much ground and passed Pearson’s teammate and early race leader Nick Burson within a few miles.

From there, he stayed comfortably ahead of the field with FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Travis Coy and YZ125-mounted semi-retired Justin Bonita (last year’s series runner-up and Coy’s younger brother) rounding out the podium finishers. (Round-one winner Ian Blythe is now in Brazil where he plans to vie for that country’s enduro championship.) With his win at the Picacho Creek Challenge and Jr. Mendes/Ted Ponton Memorial, Graffunder now leads in series points with Coy second.

Due to the unexpectedly large number of entries versus space available, the baker’s dozen FMF 250cc Pros started on row two after the full line of 31 Pros. Round-one winner Joey Fiasconaro repeated as the class winner, this time over fellow Northern Californian Michael Aranda while 40-something Travis Epperson proved third-fastest. Fiasconaro went home $600 richer.

Though there's no Women Pro class, thanks to TBT Racing, the top three women overall get a taste of what it's like to win money, and this time Sophia Oliveira--runner-up at round one--earned the $100 bonus after leading all women as well as Women A from start to finish. (Drew Lehr, younger brother to Team USA ISDE rider A.J. Lehr, took the overall race victory over Oliveira by eight seconds after coming from the 250cc C line.) Second in class and $75 went to Sharon Mowell while Women B winner Brianna Vinsonhaler earned $50 for third woman overall.—Mark Kariya

That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.