Nick Burson Wins Gorman WHS 2016

Nick Burson takes the win at the Hungry Valley Hare Scramble put on by the Prospectors Motorcycle Club, round three of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.

The Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area is California’s third-largest SVRA and, being less than two hours from Los Angeles, is one of the most popular riding areas in the country. It boasts over 100 miles of trails in its 19,000 acres with the majority fast and flowing around its many hills in Gorman.

Nick Burson didn’t really grow up riding there, but before he became a star on the Purvines Racing Beta team, one of the jobs he had was testing various off-road vehicles for Kawasaki with Gorman being one of the most utilized venues. That experience pays off whenever he races there, as he did for the Hungry Valley Hare Scramble put on by the Prospectors Motorcycle Club, round three of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.

Nick Burson, Gorman WHS 2016
Hungry Valley (and the Quail Canyon MX track) is a fun place to ride but a tricky place to race. However, Nick Burson’s put in a lot of miles there over the years and it paid off for him with a dominating performance for the second year in a row, enabling him to grab the series points lead.Photo by Mark Kariya

“I’ve spent a lot of time here, but I haven’t ridden here since last year at this race,” he confided after winning for the second year in a row. “I like it here. It’s slippery; it’s not all-out. You’ve got to really hit your lines and flow and I like that. I like being creative and cutting across, not just railing berms the whole time; cutting down, missing bumps—it was really fun.

“I have the advantage. I’ve raced out here a lot, I’ve ridden out here a lot so that’s why the first lap I tried to get away. Some of the hills I know I can jump, I can carry speed off.”

And after a decent start, he quickly passed his way to the front and executed his plan, sprinting the first two laps around the 12-mile course the Prospectors laid out utilizing many trails that hadn’t been raced on for a number of years. After building his lead, he simply set it on cruise and slowly inched away from the field for his first win of the season, moving him past the absent Kevin Rookstool into the series points lead.

In the early going, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Jacob Argubright kept pace in second, though he couldn’t make a dent in Burson’s lead, while Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Yamaha rider Justin Morgan had the best ride of his career going in a strong third.

Unfortunately for both, each encountered problems that dropped them from contention so last year’s champ and last year’s series runner-up eagerly jumped in to give chase. Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Travis Coy briefly held second, but SRT’s Cory Graffunder repassed him and held it the rest of the way.

Due to the predominantly hard-packed, dry, slick trails, Graffunder decided he’d park his usual KTM 300 XC and race a Husqvarna FC 450 instead. He explained, “Well, I raced [the San Felipe 250] down in Baja on a Husky so I got on this bike—this is actually my pre-runner for that race—so I got a lot of time on it down there.

“When I came home after that race, I was like, ‘Man, Gorman’s kind of like a little bit like Baja, you know? It’s fast, sand whoops, slick, hard-pack.’ I remember last year on the two-stroke having a lot of wheelspin [at Gorman] just because it revs so quickly on this slick stuff so I’m like, ‘I think [the 450] will be a better option for here.’

“This’ll probably be the only [round] I race it at. I still love the two-stroke and I think that’s going to be my bike of choice for pretty much everything else.”

The one thing that weighed against the decision was his unfamiliarity with four-stroke dead-engine starts using just the button and it did turn out to bite him as he trailed when the green flag waved.

“I knew it was going to suck on the start; I knew I probably wasn’t going to get a good start, but I thought it would be better overall,” he said. “I had to battle through the pack. I never ride out here so I don’t know this area and it definitely took me a lap or two laps to even know where I was going. It was dusty, there’s a lot blind rises—it’s hard to push, be aggressive, when you don’t know if you’re going to fly off a cliff.”

But he managed to stay on the trail and nab runner-up, his best finish to date this season following his DNF-3 in the first two rounds while Coy also enjoyed his best series finish to date with his third place after going 5-5 in the first two rounds (ironically in his AMA District 36 home turf).

Second off the start, Burson’s teammate Axel Pearson ended up fourth overall, also his best series finish of the season. Alex Dorsey matched his season-best fifth place with holeshot winner Ryan Kudla, Justin Bonita, Ryan Smith, Justin Sanders and Vet A winner Quinn Cody rounded out the top 10.

Dante Oliveira and Rich Sarno, Gorman WHS 2016
Dante Oliveira (356) laps Rich Sarno en route to his second FMF Pro 250 triumph of the season, extending his class points lead over Max Parker who finished the day third.Photo by Mark Kariya
Mason Matthies, Gorman WHS 2016
Mason Matthies had a back-and-forth battle with Matteo Oliveira for the first few laps of the Super Mini race but locked up the win when Oliveira’s bike broke. That marked the first Youth overall for Matthies.Photo by Mark Kariya