FRIDAY WRAP-UP 6-24-16

HOT RACING

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Last weekend was brutal in So. Cal. I spent what seemed to be an entire lifetime at Glen Helen during the first big heat wave of the summer. Saturday was the Prairie Dog’s Last Dog Standing and Sunday was the JBC 10 Hours of Glen Helen. The first is an event close to my heart, the second is an event that consumes the rest of me. I work with the staff at Glen Helen to produce the courses for all three of its annual Endurance races; the 6, 10 and 24 Hour events. Because the the LDS and 10-Hour are back to back, I have to wait until the Last Dog is done before I can start marking the course for the 10 hour. It makes for a long day, followed by a long day.

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Now that it’s all done, I’ve rehydrated and the muscle cramps have gone away, I’ve gotta say that I’m humbled by some of the riders who rode over the weekend. First of all, there’s Cody Webb, who I’m beginning to suspect is a robot. He rode almost flawlessly over obstacles that I thought were impossible. I say “almost” because he did make one gaff and then repeated it. He missed some course markings on both loops of the last round, which caused him to bypass a fairly difficult hill. Criag Hunter, the tog Prairie Dog, came up with sort of King Solomon penalty; he stopped Cody just before the checkered flag and made him go back and climb the hill twice. At the time, I was on the the side of that very hill helping a rider who was stuck. Cody rode up so easily that the exercise seemed pointless. He stopped at the top and expressed his unhappiness to me, but he seemed to get over it quickly.

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Another rider who impressed me was Hawaiian Ryan Gouveia. He rode every inch of the first two rounds of LDS, made it to the final and spent almost an hour suck on a hill. Then he rode the 10-hour the next day and finished 15th. Wow.

 

Morgan Tanke was the first woman to win the Solo class at a Gleh Helen Endurance race.

Also on the wow list is Woman’s EnduroCross regular Morgan Tanke, who soloed the 10-hour on the hottest day of the year and won the Ironman class by laps, becoming the first female to do so. Men, take off your hat when this woman walks into the room.

WORLD TRIALS

It’s no secret where Cody Webb’s skill comes from. He’s still a trials rider at heart. Take a look at the stuff that the FIM World Trials guys have to do. Triple wow.

TESTING AT DIRT BIKE

"YZ450F USA CAN 2017"

This was a week filled with 2017 testing, just like last week. I spend a fair amount of time becoming reacquainted with the Gas Gas EC300. It’s way better than you might think. Next week will be more of the same. Yamaha is going to Zaca Station north of Santa Barbara to introduce the new YZ450F and YZ250F. The 450 won’t have many changes, but it looks like the 250 will. The head and piston, among other things, are new. Yamaha is in a very heated battle with KTM right now on every front. In 2016, Yamaha sold more 250 and 450 motocross bikes than KTM, although the off-road numbers are tilted more heavily toward KTM, where Yamaha made significant inroads. The YZ250FX sold better than the KTM 250XC-F, but to be fair, that’s not KTM’s strongest model. The new YZ250FX will have all the same motor changes as the YZ250 motocross version, so it should be very good this year. On the other had, KTM gave the 250XC-F a new air fork.

Pete Murray helped with the Gas Gas EC300 testing this week.
Pete Murray helped with the Gas Gas EC300 testing this week.

 

KAWASAKI LOOKS BACK

The 1974 Kawasaki KX125 is somewhat left out by motocross historians in the grand conversation. It was actually one of the fastest 125s of the day.
The 1974 Kawasaki KX125 is somewhat left out by motocross historians in the grand conversation. It was actually one of the fastest 125s of the day.
Kawasaki is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Here’s some remember-when material from the company’s P.R. department.
Thanks to the groundwork established by Kawasaki’s 1972 championship-winning prototype F12MX program, in 1974 Kawasaki launched a lineup of KX™125, KX™250, and KX™450 motocross motorcycles – a complete range all finished in Kawasaki’s characteristic Lime Green paint.  
The KX125 used a new rotary-valve two-stroke engine evolved from the engineering lessons learned from the high-output 1970 100 Centurion G31M dirt racer. Weighing 199 the KX had an electrofusion-coated cylinder and six-speed gearbox. The KX250 anchored Kawasaki’s new MX lineup with such features as Hammerhead shocks and plastic fenders. Dry weight was said to be 214 lbs. The KX450 capitalized on the 1974 AMA 500 Motocross champion Jimmy Weinert. A plastic fuel tank was one of the first on a production bike.

GNCC RACING

The 2016 AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) Series presented by Maxxis, an AMA National Championship, travels to the scenic Snowshoe Mountain this weekend, June 25 and 26, for the 10th Annual AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC. Modeled after the famed Blackwater 100 race, the Snowshoe GNCC is known for being “America’s toughest race” and the world’s most talented motorcycle off-road talent will tackle the rough and rugged terrain for the ninth round of the GNCC circuit.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing/Bel-Ray’s Josh Strang leads the way into the Snowshoe GNCC after a big win just two weeks ago in New York. Strang has spent the first half of the season proving that he is ready to add another championship to his resume and will contend for the win this Sunday.

Josh Strang leads the way into the Snowshoe GNCCas the current overall points leader.Photo: Ken HillJosh Strang leads the way into the Snowshoe GNCC
as the current overall points leader.
Photo: Ken Hill

However, a win will not come easy for Strang because FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell will be a man-on-a-mission as he will look to take back over the points championship. The defending champion isn’t willing to just hand over the championship and will look to repeat his 2015 Snowshoe overall win this weekend.

Overall National Championship Standings:

  1. Josh Strang (197)
  2. Kailub Russell (196)
  3. Trevor Bollinger (107)
  4. Chris Bach (105)
  5. Jordan Ashburn (105)
  6. Craig Delong (93)
  7. Thad Duvall (84)
  8. Steward Baylor Jr. (83)
  9. Grant Baylor (81)
  10. Ricky Russell (80)

NATIONAL MOTOCROSS

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BACK IN THE DAY

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Today the KTM 350 is probably my favorite bike. I’m especially anxious to get ahold of the 2017 model next week because it has the new WR AER 48 air fork. Oddly enough, the KTM 350 was my favorite bike 28 years ago. It was just a different KTM 350. Back in 1988 I rode the 350WXC in the Incas Rally, on terrain that would later be used for the Dakar Rally. It was an amazing experience, and I was joined by Americans Malcolm Smith and Scot Harden, as well as the top Dakar rally riders of the day. The bike was awesome. I’d love to find one today.

See you next week,

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Ron Lawson

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