Round three of the National Grand Prix Championship embarked on the town of Blythe this past weekend. Though the river is still too cold to enjoy for boats and jet skis, another motorsport filtered the city. 1500+ weekend entries and the roar of off-road motorcycles flooded the motocross track of Shorty Sports Park just north of town, on the sand bluffs overlooking the city. The Prospectors motorcycle club originally had their date for early November. Still, due to a rumor of the International 6-day Enduro being too close for comfortn for some of our top Americans, the NGPC series quickly changed to help our American racers out and move to an earlier date.
The Open Pro class made for the weekend’s excitement again for the hour and half-pro race. As the green flag flew and the silence of dead engines awoke to full throttle, it was the RedBull/KTM rider of Dante Oliveira nailing his first holeshot of the year. On the opening laps, the SLR/HONDA of Cole Martinez found his way around the KTM rider and asserted himself as the one at the front. As Martinez and Oliveira started to pull away from the rest of the field, the battle for third was an all-sprint, vying for the final podium position.
Chaparral Motorsports Kawasaki of Zach Bell and his teammate Tyler Lynn were hounded by a hard-charging Talon La Fountaine, Mateo Oliveira, Austin Walton, and series points leader Ryan Surratt. Walton was the first to take a crack at the group; he made his own Lynn and then tracked down Bell, putting himself in the lead group. Halfway through the race, Martinez and Oliveira had opened up a minute gap on Walton.
Both were still in an absolute sprint with 45 minutes left in the race. On lap six, Martinez was passed by the Oliveira, giving the Redbull/KTM racer his shot to lead. Third, Walton had come under pressure from another SLR/HONDA, Talon La Fountaine. La Fountaine, coming off his first WORCS win the weekend before, found his stride late in the race, and began to track down the Rockstar Husqvarna racer.
La Fountaine made a pass on lap seven of the eleven-lap race and now took his shot at the podium. With the white flag waving, Dante Oliveira had sprouted his lead over the SLR racer to over seventeen seconds, making it just comfortable to cruise the last lap in for his second consecutive NGPC pro win in a row, grabbing the points lead from JCR/Hondas Ryan Surratt. SLR/Hondas Cole Martinez took home second after leading over half of the race and keeping his championship run intact. La Fountaine stayed steady through the remaining laps and nailed the final podium spot, making for an SLR/Honda two-three podium.
Rockstar Husqvarna Austin Walton finished fourth, with Tyler Lynn rounding out the top five. Unfortunately, Ryan Surratt and the series points leader had a less-than-desirable day. At one point, he made his run into the top five, but as the track deteriorated, it looked as if Surratt was in survival mode, trying to salvage as many points as possible, finishing in sixth.
PRO 250 CLASS
The Pro 250 class became an all-out war, yet again at Blythe. Though, there was another variable added to the series for some. Kade Walker had won the last round in Taft on a Beta. In between the week, Walker and SLR Honda team owner Mark Samuels created a deal in which the Canadian-based racer will now be team-supported. For the Pro 250 class, it adds more competition to the series. For the racers, it adds a hurtle to try and beat the Canadian. When the green flag dropped on the twenty Pro 250s, it was Three-Brothers Husqvarna Kai Aiello nailing the start. His lead was quickly taken away from the Gaingslinger Kawasaki rider of Cole Zeller. Zeller not only grabbed the lead, but he started to pull a gap on the rest of the field. By lap three, Zeller had comfortably opened up a fourteen-second gap and looked only to be improving as the race grew on. The race behind him began to heat up. Alvarez, Walker, Simpson, and Aiello could be seen in a conga line around the track. Each of them trying to track down the leader of Zeller.
As the end of lap three came to a close, a mechanical struck the racer leader of Zeller. With Zellar in the pits, Walker took his momentum and SLR/Honda to the lead. Blood was in the water for the racers behind; Alvarez started pressuring Walker waiting for a mistake. Walker was maintaining the hard charge from the RPM/KTM rider. Walker took his pit on lap five, handing the lead to Alvarez.
The RPM/KTM rider was given a gift, trying to sprint away for an open lap on the field, Alvarez did his best, but it wasn’t enough to break the Honda racer. Entering the pits on lap seven, the RPM/KTM rider got out in just enough time with Walker on his heels. Walker was now the one pressuring Alvarez waiting for his moment to strike and take back the lead. However, a small mistake from the RPM/KTM rider handed the lead over to Walker, giving him enough room to maintain his lead. As the battle at the front finally settled in, Purvines Yamaha racer Jack Simpson slowly returned to the show after a rough start.
The Yamaha racer was a little too late to the party to go after the lead, but he did make his way past the KTM rider of JP Alvarez in the later portions of the race and trickled down a sixteen-second gap to a mere seven seconds at the finish. Walker went on to win for the second time in a row and the first time on his new team with SLR/Honda. Simpson finished a strong second, with JP Alvarez finishing in third. Early leader Kai Aiello finished fourth, and Thomas Dunn rounding out the top five.
Round four of the NGPC series is two weeks away at the infamous Glen Helen Raceway. The Prairie Dogs MC will host their take at the NGPC series on March 3rd-5th and will have another eight-thousand-dollar Pro Purse and the chance at another pro podium victory. For more on the weekends and results, click HERE!