Honda CR250R AF, Alessi To Canada, Wil Hahn Update, Steele Creek To Russell, Mullins Looks To Tennessee, and Destry Abbott Plans! - The Weekly Dirt: April 2, 2014

By the DR Staff

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, your place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we get an update on Wil Hahn, who crashed hard in St. Louis. We also take a look at last weekend’s GNCC and this coming weekend’s national Enduro. There’s plenty to talk about, so let’s get going.

Honda CR250R Direct Inject Two-Stroke April Fools

Photo Courtesy Honda (and Photoshop!)

Unfortunately, yesterday's too-good-to-be-true announcement of a Honda CR250R Direct Inject two-stroke was just that—too good to be true. Yes, it was an April Fool's day joke, and no, as far as we know, Honda is not getting set to mass produce a sub $5000, 200 lb, 50-state street legal off-road two-stroke. We apologize for getting your hopes up, but we'd like to encourage you to take all of that pent-up angst and aggression out on a letter to your favorite Japanese motorcycle manufacturer telling them how badly you want one of these fairy-tale bikes to become a reality! No kidding, if the manufacturers receive enough requests, they will take notice. Personally, we can't wait to see if the big four can cook up an off-road two-stroke that can compete with the Austrians, and from what we've heard the technology does currently exist. Either way, you've got to admit....that photoshopped CR250R was pretty legit!

Wil Hahn Update

Wil Hahn suffered a broken humerus bone and a cracked skull in his horrendous crash this weekend in St. Louis. Photo By Shan Moore

If you watched this past weekend’s Supercross race in St. Louis then you probably saw the spectacular crash that Wil Hahn took. The GEICO Honda rider came up short on a jump in the rhythm section and was tossed around like a rag doll before being thrown to the ground. Hahn was unconscious for about a minute before the medical unit could move him. He was later taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken humerus (four breaks) and a cracked skull, along with several contusions to the neck and face. Stayed tuned, and we’ll have further updates.

Report from the Trail - Wickenburg Desert Ride

Story By Paul Guillien

Photo By Paul Guillien
Photo By Paul Guillien
Photo By Paul Guillien
Photo By Paul Guillien

If you own an adventure motorcycle, chances are you’ve heard about Backcountry Discovery Routes by now. The 501c (4) non-profit organization, whose stated mission is to create and preserve off-pavement riding opportunities for adventure and dual-sport motorcycles has been creating cross-state routes following mostly dirt tracks the last few years. They’ve completed a Backcountry Discovery Route for WA, UT, CO and most recently AZ.

In late March, the organization held its first fundraiser event called the Wickenburg Desert Ride.

Operating out of a private oasis in the desert known as the Boyd Ranch, participants were treated to three meals a day from the chuck wagon and guided rides in some of Arizona’s best backcountry terrain.

The organizers surprised attendees with a special guest. Quinn Cody who is a multiple-time Baja champion and Dakar Rally veteran, showed up to have some fun on big bikes and support a great cause.

As evening approached the saloon offered up cocktails and a charming place to swap stories about the day’s adventures. A few steps away from the saloon was a campfire and star-filled sky set to the acoustic guitar tunes of Evan Firstman. As eyes got heavy, folks wandered off to their tents for some shut-eye in preparation to do it all over again the next day.

“I think everyone had a fantastic time,” said Inna Thorn, Manager of Backcountry Discovery Routes. “The venue and surrounding areas offered an amazing adventure riding experience. Our non-profit organization raised much needed funds and connected with a group of riders that truly care about preserving opportunities to ride motorcycles in the backcountry.”

For more info on Backcountry Discovery Routes check out www.touratech-usa.com.

Kenda AMA National Enduro Series

Charlie Mullins will be looking for win number three in the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series this weekend in Tennessee. Photo By Shan Moore

Round three of the Kenda AMA National Enduro Series is this coming weekend in West Point, Tennessee, AKA, the Rad Dad Enduro. Charlie Mullins comes into the race carrying a two-race win streak and the FMF/KTM rider is hoping to leave town with win number three under his belt.

Among the riders hoping to stop Mullins’ win streak is Mike Brown, who will be making a rare appearance at a National Enduro. Brownie, a Husqvarna Factory Racing-backed rider, is one of the top EnduroCross and ISDE racers in the world and this Sunday he’ll test his single-track skills against the best off-road racers in America.

Joining Brown in his attempt to halt Mullins’ streak at two wins is KTM support rider Grant Baylor, and Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Andrew DeLong. Baylor and DeLong are hot off of podium finishes last month at round two of the series in Blackwell, Texas, where Baylor claimed a personal best runner-up finish and DeLong finished third.

Eight-time National Enduro Champ Mike Lafferty has a good record at the Rad Dad and will be another rider to watch, in addition to AirGroup Racing's Nick Fahringer and Maxxis/Klim/DirtWise KTM rider Jesse Groemm. KR4's Shane Hufford also had a personal best in Texas, and his fourth place finish at that race should give him plenty of momentum heading into the Tennessee round where racers will not only be competing for championship points, but also a big chunk of the $3000 Pro Purse offered by Enduro Engineering.

You can follow this Sunday's race live on Twitter by following @NEPGENDURO or go to the website for updates throughout the day at www.nationalenduro.com.

Kailub Russell Wins Steele Creek GNCC

Jordan Ashburn (7) leads Steward Baylor (514), Josh Strang (4), Charlie Mullins (112), Kailub Russell (hidden) and a host of XC1 GNCC racers at the start of the Steele Creek GNCC. Photo Courtesy Ken Hill/GNCC Racing

Defending GNCC series champ Champion Kailub Russell claimed his second win in a row at the Steele Creek GNCC this past weekend in Morganton, North Carolina, and by doing so pulled to within three points of his FMF/KTM teammate Charlie Mullins in the series standings.

Russell took the early lead in the three-hour race on lap one, and by the time Mullins had settled into second, Russell had put over a minute on his teammate and the rest of the field and the reigning champ never looked back.

Mullins would hold on for second place, despite heavy pressure from Australian Josh Strang on the final lap.

"I tried to ride good and charge but I wasn't really making up any ground," Mullins said. "I rode as hard as I could. On the second to last lap I had a pretty good crash in the sand and Strang caught up to me. He kept me honest that last lap and I had to push pretty hard to keep him back."

Rocky Mountain ATV*MC/N-Fab Am Pro Yamaha's Strang began the afternoon just inside the top 10 but the 2011 Steele Creek winner quickly pushed his way through the pack to finish third.

It was a big day for North Carolina's very own Trevor Bollinger who earned his first career XC2 Pro Lites victory in front of his home state friends and family. Bollinger, an XC2 rookie, was elated to take the class win after an impressive ride in the not-so-favorable conditions. Yamaha rider Ricky Russell was second in the XC2 class, with KTM support rider Grant Baylor in third.

Alessi To Canada For The Summer

Mike Alessi will be testing the waters at the first round of the Canadian Motocross Series. Photo By Shan Moore

According to Tony Alessi, Mike Alessi and the MotoConcepts SmartTops team will be competing this summer in the Canadian National Motocross Series; that is if everything goes well at the first round. Tony told me this weekend in St. Louis, that Mike and Kyle Cunningham would be racing the AMA outdoor opener at Glen Helen, since it’s basically in the Alessi’s back yard. Then the next weekend, the same weekend as the Hangtown race, the MotoConcepts team will race the Canadian opener, which will be held on the beautiful Canadian island of Nanaimo.

“We’ll look at our options after that first race, and do what’s best for the riders and the team,” said Tony.

Tony also want it known that they were in no way running away from the AMA series or in any way “blocked” from riding AMA events, which is a reference to Mike’s recent penalty for “rough riding” at the Indy Supercross.

Alessi also told me the Cunningham would be moving up to the 450 class for the Canadian series and that the team would pick up Canadian rider Jeremy Medaglia to compete in the 250 class. —Shan Moore

No EX/SX Double For Destry Abbott

Since Destry Abbott plans to concentrate on EnduroCross in his last full season of the series, he will not try for a Vegas double next month by doing both that opener as well as the supercross finale the following night across town. Photo By Mark Kariya
Nicola Dutto plans an extended stay this summer in Southern California in order to race the Baja 500 and Vegas to Reno as well as another event or two. After that, it’s back to Italy to prepare for a shot at November’s Baja 1000 peninsula run. Photo By Mark Kariya

Last week, Destry Abbott mused on his Facebook page about doing a historic double: competing in both the opening round of the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship Series, fueled by Monster Energy and presented by Lucas Oil, on May 2 and the finale of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, on May 3, since both are in Las Vegas.

But when contacted by phone, he laughed it off, saying that even though he’s riding well and would love to try qualifying for the SX finale, a good EX finish is his primary goal. This will be his final season of following the entire series.

“It’s not like I’m trying to earn a contract or anything like that,” the 41-year-old Kawasaki rider pointed out. “I want to go out there because I still feel good on the bike and I’m enjoying it. I figure this is my last year take my schools and training facility a little more serious and push that after this year.”

Still, don’t expect him to fade completely away in the future, as he warned, “I’ll still hit selected rounds--it’s not like I’m going to just disappear because that’s totally not my style!”

After a year aboard Yamahas and having celebrated his 40th birthday after finishing fourth at this year’s Dakar Rally, Cyril Despres announced last week that he’s shifting gears and entering the world of racing in a car as a member of Peugeot Sport’s rally effort. He will be teammates with 2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz of Spain.

The five-time Dakar winner (all aboard KTMs) thus takes a logical step as in his racing career since the popular French star will now be racing for a French auto maker which has been absent from the race since 1990.

“On leaving the last Dakar , the idea of not returning on a bike was far from my mind!” Despres insisted. “But I was lucky enough to be contacted by Peugeot. It’s an opportunity to make a grand entrance into the car category and the sort that only comes along once in a lifetime.”

Last week in Paris, of course, the Dakar organizers unveiled the general course map for 2015, which will be the seventh South American edition and the 37th overall running. It will once again start in Argentina on January 3 and visit both Bolivia and Chile, but this time it will finish back in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Paraplegic dirt rider Nicola Dutto recently renewed his partnership with KTM Italy, and a big part of that contract will see him in North America. He and his specially outfitted KTM 500 EXC (the European version of the XC-W sold in the U.S.) will fly to Los Angeles at the end of May with the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 on June 7 the first race on his schedule. The last race he has planned before returning to Italy will be BITD’s General Tire Vegas to Reno on August 15. Then, he’ll spend a few months at home before another assault on the Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 on November 13. (He ironmanned his specially outfitted bike to third in Sportsman Over 450cc at last year’s 1000.)

“The third place achieved at the Baja 1000 was something quite extraordinary and has the taste of victory,” he explained at a press conference in Rome. “The only goal as we left the grid was to finish the race, when you realize that it’s grueling for able-bodied riders, let alone a paraplegic. I get excited thinking about the hug from Ricky Johnson just before the start, when he said that if I ever needed a shadow man in the future, he would consider it an honor, and the pat on the back at the finish from Colin Edwards, amazed at taking an hour’s ‘pay.’ ”

As for riding nowadays, he said, “Now I feel really at ease on the bike. I have acquired great feeling, especially on technical stretches where I can cope with balance naturally using only my upper body, no longer getting stimuli from my lower limbs.”

While Dutto entertained a schedule that's closer to home, he felt compelled to race primarily in North America because desert racing "…was born there and the level of participants is high. For me this is a further ; everything is easier, faster and meritocracy reigns supreme. The organizers asked me to take part in their championship and I didn't wait to be asked a second time!" —Mark Kariya

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