National Hare & Hound 2016 Race Report - Desert MC, Round 1

JCR Honda’s Ricky Brabec wins AMA National Hare & Hound series opener in Lucerne Valley, California.

The Dakar Rally thrashes most riders both physically and mentally with its two-week-long grind. Day after day, it chips away at the strongest will, leaving all but the most determined athletes longing for rest.

JCR Honda rider Ricky Brabec
After spending two solid weeks aboard the works CRF450 Rally at Dakar, Ricky Brabec’s JCR Honda CRF450X felt like a minibike. That transition as well as the more urgent H&H pace apparently didn’t faze him, though, because he led most of the way to take the win at the series opener.Photo by Mark Kariya

But for guys like 2014 AMA Hare & Hound National Champion Ricky Brabec, it’s simply a warm-up for the coming season.

Okay, not really. The Johnny Campbell Racing Honda desert star admitted he was tired when he stepped off the plane last Monday night after his 14-hour, two-segment return flight from Argentina. All he had on his mind was falling into bed.

Nick Stover, Pro 250 class winner Round 1 NHHA
Nick Stover spent last year learning the ins and outs of desert racing en route to third in final points of the FMF Pro 250 class. He obviously learned well because he took his first class win at Lucerne.Photo by Mark Kariya

But the next day, he told his boss to get his CRF450X race bike prepped—he wanted to race the opening round of the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series down the road outside of Lucerne Valley, California.

“I was really not sure if I wanted to race or not and how badly my body was going to be beat [after Dakar],” he said after not just riding but winning the Desert Motorcycle Club’s 49th Annual Winter Classic. “I didn’t really tell Johnny I was racing until Tuesday.”

Of the transition between racing disciplines, he admitted, “I came out here [on Saturday] and rode the race bike [for the first time since returning from Dakar] and it was weird. It was really small for me [compared to the works CRF450 Rally]. Yesterday I kind of rode around all day and adjusted so that was good. Today, the race was awesome.”

Tyler Lynn racing Round 1 NHHA 2016
Tyler Lynn did an amazing double. Here, he’s on his way to the Big Wheel and overall Youth National win. About two hours later, he rode his Chidester Transport Racing YZ250 in the big bike National, finishing ninth in the FMF Pro 250 class.Photo by Mark Kariya

It couldn’t have gone much better, as he led most of the way to finish comfortably in front of slow starting Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Jacob Argubright with another early leader, Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson, settling for third, feeling unusually uncomfortable in the rocks in the debut of his 2016 race bike.

For defending series champ Ivan Ramirez, the day was the complete opposite of Brabec’s. He led at the bomb but got passed by Brabec and Yamaha-mounted privateer Skyler Howes on the following downhill. The FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team ace figured he’d settle into third and watch their lines for a while, but found himself going backwards instead fighting a case of arm pump.

Women on podium at Round 1 NHHA 2016
The top Women A; from left are runner-up Sharon Mowell, winner and former champ Nicole Bradford, and third-place and former champ Anna Cody. Of the three, Bradford is the only one not planning on chasing the entire series this year.Photo by Mark Kariya

“I was just feeling tight and not too confident so I was like, ‘Just relax and ride.’ I feel like it was a rough day for me. I haven’t felt that tight in a long time,” he admitted. “I just wanted to keep it on two wheels and ride smart.” Ramirez eventually finished seventh.

Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna’s Dalton Shirey held a solitary fourth for much of the race followed by LG Electric Yamaha-mounted Ryan Smith, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Yamaha’s Justin Morgan, Ramirez, Vet A winner Morgan Crawford, FMF Pro 250 winner Nick Stover and Purvines Racing Beta’s Axel Pearson.

Top 20 Overall - Cumulative Race Times by Place

Place Rider# Rider Name Brand Class Lap 1 Lap 2
1 2 Ricky Brabec HON Pro 1:07:18 (1) 2:09:49 (1)
2 911 Jacob Argubright HSQ Pro 1:07:49 (2) 2:10:11 (2)
3 657 Nicholas Burson BET Pro 1:08:43 (3) 2:11:46 (3)
4 46 Dalton Shirey HSQ Pro 1:08:51 (4) 2:14:05 (4)
5 62 Ryan Smith YAM Pro 1:10:45 (5) 2:16:13 (5)
6 403 Justin Morgan YAM Pro 1:11:25 (6) 2:16:44 (6)
7 1 Ivan Ramirez KTM Pro 1:12:05 (7) 2:19:24 (7)
8 N596 Morgan Crawford KTM A Vet 1:13:03 (11) 2:19:30 (8)
9 X281 Nick Stover KTM Pro 250 1:12:52 (9) 2:21:20 (9)
10 762 Axel Pearson BET Pro 1:12:57 (10) 2:22:40 (10)
11 X45 Joseph Wasson YAM Pro 250 1:14:04 (13) 2:23:57 (11)
12 333 Ty Bartholomew KAW Pro 1:14:00 (12) 2:24:36 (12)
13 X414 Chance Wyllie KAW Pro 250 1:15:31 (15) 2:25:16 (13)
14 949 Nicolas Garvin HON Pro 1:17:25 (22) 2:25:38 (14)
15 100 Max Eddy Jr. KAW Pro 1:16:39 (16) 2:25:41 (15)
16 N580 Tyler Renshaw KTM A Vet 1:16:55 (18) 2:26:19 (16)
17 526 Chris Green KTM Pro 1:14:50 (14) 2:27:06 (17)
18 N642 Andrew Puckett YAM Pro 1:17:01 (19) 2:27:49 (18)
19 8 David Kamo KTM Pro 1:17:17 (21) 2:28:07 (19)
20 X243 Nick Tolman KTM Pro 250 1:17:09 (20) 2:28:09 (20)