JCR Honda's Ricky Brabec Wins 100s MC National Hare & Hound Race 2015

Ramirez takes historic championship, but Brabec shocks with winning ride at H&H finale

Secrets are hard to keep, especially in the motorcycle racing world, but it’s possible.

Just ask Ricky Brabec.

The reigning champ in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series has had a good run on the THR Motorsports/Precision Concepts KX450F, winning three titles last year. Due to budgetary cutbacks, though, he had less support this year.

So, when he broke his neck at round five of the series back in June (as well as other injuries), things happened. Good things.

Ricky Brabec made his return to racing after his broken neck a memorable one in more than one way. He not only won, but he also did so in his debut aboard a JCR Honda, giving the team two wins for the day with Chris Bach winning the Moose Run at the finale of the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals in Illinois.Photo by Mark Kariya

“While I was hurt, Honda approached me,” he revealed. “It was a deal I couldn’t pass up so I decided to pursue my goals that I’ve always wanted to ride on a Honda by JCR so here it is—my dream’s come true!” (It also makes sense to be on a Honda here as he’s expected to sign with Team HRC Rally to ride the works CRF450 Rally in rally raids next year.)

Remarkably, despite missing a couple rounds, Brabec had a mathematical chance of successfully defending his championship, as he sat third in points with 131, one point behind good friend and FMF KTM support rider Gary Sutherlin while FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team star Ivan Ramirez controlled the chase with 160 points going into the eighth and final race, the 48th Annual Johnson Valley Championship hosted by the 100's Desert Motorcycle Club near Lucerne Valley, California.

All Ramirez needed was to finish 17th and he’d take the championship back to the KTM camp, a pretty easy task for the young man from Ensenada who’d won once, podiumed four other times and finished fourth then fifth in the most recent races.

To beat Ramirez, both Brabec and Sutherlin could afford nothing less than a win—then hope somehow Ramirez finished worse than 17th.

But the two challengers rose to the occasion.

Brabec got a good start and took the lead on the first of the three separate loops with Rockstar Energy/Bel-Ray Husqvarna Factory Racing Team’s Jacob Argubright—who’d spent most of the year recovering from a broken wrist suffered at this very race in 2014—tucking in behind him with Sutherlin third.

The newest JCR Honda rider ended up leading and winning by a comfortable margin in his debut aboard the CRF450R.

“I really wasn’t expecting to come out here and win,” he insisted. “I was just expecting to have fun. It felt good to come out the last of the year and end up on top.”

Argubright and Sutherlin put on the race of the day in their battle for second, Sutherlin saying, “It was just cat and mouse all day.”

After going back and forth for most of the race, Sutherlin held a slight advantage with the finish in sight so Argubright pulled out all the stops: “This last downhill over here, I absolutely gave it my all. It was either I was going to pass him or go down!”

He didn’t go down, but he did miss a turn, giving Sutherlin a little breathing room finally. Sutherlin’s runner-up finish meant he dropped to third in final series points to Brabec. Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson and LG Electric Yamaha privateer Ryan Smith rounded out the top five overall in the race.

And what of Ramirez?

He rode the race he needed to, getting a decent start and basically just going out for a trail ride. He said, “At a check I heard I was seventh place so I’m like, ‘Okay, just be smart and patient.’ At the same time, I think I enjoyed it a little bit more than when I’m at race speed. I was actually enjoying riding and kind of flowing, just like trail riding. Also, I didn’t want to hurt the bike.”

He sealed the coveted championship by maintaining that seventh place, less than a minute behind FMF 250cc Pro champ and Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna’s Dalton Shirey.

Surrounded by family, friends and team personnel, Ramirez celebrated the championship with a taco feast in the pits and said, “It’s cool; it’s a great feeling. I know Kurt [Caselli] would be proud right now.”

Ivan Ramirez locked up the series championship with a safe seventh-place ride with family, friends and team personnel joining him on the podium and at a taco feast in the pits afterward.Photo by Mark Kariya
Dalton Shirey was once again untouchable in the FMF 250cc Pro class, finishing sixth overall, almost 12 minutes ahead of the class runner-up. He ended up winning seven of the eight rounds, though he won’t run the number-one plate next year. Instead, he’ll go head to head with the big boys on a 450.Photo by Mark Kariya