Idaho National Hare & Hound Round 2 Race Report 2016

Gary Sutherlin starts his new National Hare & Hound season on winning note at Round 2 in Murphy, Idaho.

Those in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series had about two and a half months between the opening round and round two, the 41st Annual Rabbit Creek 100 put on by Dirt Inc. near Murphy, Idaho, making it almost like two different starts to the foremost desert racing championship in the country.

“It was a long break,” defending series champ Ivan Ramirez agreed. “I like when [rounds] are closer to each other. That way you stay sharper and in permanent race mode.

“It [felt like] the start of the season [again]—pretty weird.”

For Gary Sutherlin, though, it really was the start of the season, the FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team/Bonanza Plumbing support rider having missed the series kickoff since he was still recovering from an accident while practicing the month before.

Gary Sutherlin, Idaho National Hare & Hound 2016
Gary Sutherlin may have been out of action for a few months, but he proved fast enough to take the lead and go on to win after chasing Jacob Argubright for about 102 of the 105 miles.Photo by Mark Kariya

Despite that extended layoff, Sutherlin came back with a vengeance, leading early at the WORCS race the week before and finally finishing fifth. But having missed three rounds in that series, Sutherlin’s major focus became the hare & hounds.

“This series is the only series that I still have a chance of winning a championship at so I put a lot of emphasis on this weekend getting back to myself, just that confidence,” he explained.

But he and the rest of the field had to take a back seat to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Jacob Argubright who controlled the pace from the start of the very dusty two-loop, 105-mile race.

By the time, Argubright completed the 70-mile first loop, he enjoyed a minute-and-a-half cushion over Sutherlin who’d moved up to second from an average start with Johnny Campbell Racing Honda’s Ricky Brabec, the round-one winner, a minute and 42 seconds farther back in third after a horrible start.

Argubright continued to roll out front for about 32 of the more technical 35-mile second loop, but that’s when things went south for him in a series of creek crossings made much deeper by snowmelt on the warm weekend.

“All I did was go through the creek and halfway through, the bike just literally died,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I finally got it running, but I had to take it apart. I pushed it to the [course] crew about a mile ahead, like right at the end of the canyon. I ended up switching some fuses around [and getting it started], but I don’t know why that happened.”

Jacob Argubright,  Idaho National Hare & Hound 2016
A great start put Jacob Argubright out of the dust right away, helping him build a comfortable cushion over the field until his bike quit in the last creek crossing only a couple miles from the finish. He was able to salvage some points after getting it going again to finish 10th Pro and 20th overall.Photo by Mark Kariya

Sutherlin was the first rider to see Argubright stranded, the Husky pilot waving his arms to warn Sutherlin and pointing to a safer line that led to triumph.

“It was just one of those things—I was in the right place at the right time,” Sutherlin acknowledged. “That’s racing. I was bummed to see him sitting there, but at the same time I needed to get as many points on these guys as I possibly can to jump me up in the points standings.”

Anxious to salvage what points he could, once he got his bike restarted, Argubright said, “I didn’t ride [to the finish] with a seat; I just left the seat there. I took all the bolts off, I took the tank off and I put the tank back on—I just put one bolt in because I knew I didn’t have much more to go so I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ ”

He ended up 10th Pro and 20th overall, thus salvaging some points to go with the second place he earned at the first round.

But looking at the positives, he noted, “At the end of the day, I know I was fastest. It sucks for championship [points], but it makes me feel going knowing I’m up to speed.”

Brabec came back from his starting debacle to second with Fastheads Yamaha rider Skyler Howes who’d won a race in Utah the day before.

Chidester Transport Yamaha rider Joseph Wasson got a great start on his YZ250 and stayed near the front to finish fourth, easily winning the FMF Pro 250 division, followed by Ramirez, LG Electric Yamaha rider Ryan Smith, Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson (who rode most of the first loop with no rear brake), FMF Pro 250 runner-up Nick Stover and Moose Racing KTM-mounted Jimmy Jarrett.

Joseph Wasson, Idaho National Hare & Hound 2016
Joseph Wasson’s run of good finishes in local races lately carried over to the National where he ran away with the FMF Pro 250 victory in placing fourth overall.Photo by Mark Kariya
Cody Kurtz, Idaho National Hare & Hound 2016
Cody Kurtz had a great weekend, easily winning the Super Mini race on Saturday after challenger Mason Matthies DNFed with a broken transmission. He then came from a huge deficit to win 200cc B on Sunday.Photo by Mark Kariya