Story compliments of Kato:
The Team Suzuki/FMF Off-Road squad completely dominated the OMA Off-Road Nationals, Hangman Cross-country race with new recruit Charlie Mullins leading a 1-2-3-4 yellow sweep in Hanging Limb, Tennessee, site of round one in the Parts Unlimited Off-road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals. It didn’t come that easily, however.
Mullins got a great jump off the line, but he got on the front brake too hard in the slick, downhill first turn and dropped his Maxima/ Dunlop/ THOR-backed RM250. That allowed Andrews Yamaha/Monster Energy/THOR YZ450F-mounted Dustin Gibson to sneak by and steal the $200 Vemar Helmets holeshot award. Mullins would rejoin the race nearly last among the Pro field.
Before too long, though, four-time and defending series champion Jimmy Jarrett led the Suzuki freight train aboard his VP Racing Fuels/Works Connection/Moose-sponsored RM250 ahead of Paul Whibley and Josh Strang astride a pair of DP Brakes/Zip-Ty Racing/Moose RM-Z450s.
Jarrett and Whibley would get hung up behind a lapper, and that’s when Mullins roared by to take the lead for good. ‘I was able to get in the lead by the second lap, and I pretty much tried to ride my own race,’ Mullins said. ‘I saw Whibley–he was catching up to me on the last lap, and I knew it was going to be tough. If he caught up to me and pressured me, I don’t know if I could’ve held him off because I wouldn’t have wanted to make a mistake and injured [my recently sprained wrist].’ Mullins would finish seven laps of the nine-mile course in two hours, 28 minutes and 49 seconds, four seconds ahead of Whibley at the end.
‘I could see Charlie, but I couldn’t make a move [since I wasn’t close enough],’ Whibley admitted. ‘It was pretty late in the race when I caught up to him.’
After stopping to get the lapper’s mini out of the trail, Jarrett’s race went downhill: ‘I had a pretty big crash and got my bike wedged in between two trees, and that kind of took the wind out of my sails.’
Strang would close on Jarrett, but he got held up by traffic as well and would have to settle for fourth, 20 seconds behind his teammate, who was nearly four minutes behind Whibley.
After spending the last few months dominating races in Northern California, Brian Garrahan found the tight trees and muddy, rutted going in Tennessee rather foreign. ‘The first couple laps I had a real rough time dabbling and babbling and all that kind of stuff,’ he admitted.
‘Like I said [earlier], it was such a good course I kept riding hard.’ It paid off as the Valli Construction/Maxxis/Answer YZ450F-mounted privateer got around Gibson late in the race for fifth while Gibson held on for sixth over Husaberg’s Nick Fahringer, YZ250-mounted privateer Adam Bonneur, Chris Bach on his KTM 450 XC-F and Alan Westerfield on his KTM 250 XC.