Steward Baylor Wins Fifth OMA Before Taking A Break

Due to the number of events on any given weekend, it’s almost inevitable that a pro rider will have to decide which race to ride when two series schedule on the same weekend.

Sometimes, however, it’s a pretty easy call. At least it was for Steward Baylor who’ll be in Slovakia as a member of the U.S. Junior World Trophy team next month, forcing him to skip round six of the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) Nationals in Dayton, Iowa.

At the Big Bottom Cross-country National near Plainview, Illinois, Baylor went 1-1 for the third round in a row on his KTM 250 XC, extracting the maximum number of points and keeping his OMA record perfect, having won all five rounds to date.

“I knew I just had to get as big of a points gap as I could leading into this next round where I won’t be able to make it [since I’ll be at the ISDE in Slovakia], so I was pushing for [another win today],” the KTM declared.

It wasn’t easy, given the hot and humid conditions as well as some unexpectedly stiff competition. Not only did JJR Off-road KTM’s Jimmy Jarrett and Fun Mart Cycles KTM’s Adam Bonneur vie for the lead, but Airgroup/Radiant Racing Husqvarna’s Nick Fahringer returned to the OMAs after being out for nearly a year after his knee injury and requisite surgery, surprising a few by stealing the $100 FMF Holeshot Award in both motos.

But Baylor’s biggest threat this day seemed to be from former OMA minibike regular Mike Witkowski who’s focused more on GNCCs in the past few years.

“The last time I [raced an OMA], I was on an 85 so…it’s been a while,” he acknowledged.

Though he took a tumble in the first moto and finished fourth on his St. Lawrence Radiology KTM 250 XC, he stayed off the ground to lead early in moto two before a mistake allowed Baylor to get by once again. But after that, Witkowski stayed glued to Baylor’s back tire, eventually finishing one second behind for a 4-2 second overall.

Baylor noted, “I saw some mistakes he made in the first moto and jumped in front of him in that second one and showed him some of the lines and he rode awesome. I couldn’t shake him, even if I wanted to, once he got the track dialed!”

Moto scores showed Bonneur (2-4), Jarrett (3-3) and Witkowski (4-2) all tallying the same points totals, but with second-moto scores the tie-breakers, they ended up fourth, third and second overall, respectively.

Things were even more competitive in the Pro 2 division, as usual, with newcomer Jojo Bowden shaking things up by taking the overall with his 2-1. Baylor’s EverRev teammate followed class points leader Shane Klimek in the first moto, and when Klimek went down hard a couple turns into moto two after hitting a course marking stake, Bowden took it from there for the win followed by SRT KTM’s Austin Wells, who went 3-3, Klimek settling for a 1-6 third overall. Unofficially, Klimek should remain the Pro 2 points leader as Duell Murphy—who’s second in points—apparently fell victim to bike problems for the second consecutive round.

Steward Baylor won’t win every OMA this year since he’ll be in Slovakia for the ISDE next month and miss round six. But the first five rounds have been his exclusively; for the third straight round, he went 1-1 and has a practically insurmountable points cushion over Jimmy Jarrett, who was a 3-3 third at the Big Bottom X-C National.Photo by Mark Kariya
Mike Witkowski (left) came out for his first OMA in years. Despite being his first OMA on big bikes and first time experiencing the two-moto format, he blistered the course, especially in moto two were he wasn’t much farther than this behind Baylor, coming away with a commendable 4-2 second overall.Photo by Mark Kariya
After finishing a close second to class points leader Shane Klimek in moto one, OMA first-timer Jojo Bowden topped moto two for the Pro 2 triumph, Klimek settling for third overall with his 1-6 after going down hard early in moto two.Photo by Mark Kariya