ON THE ROAD WITH TEAM SUZUKI OFF-ROAD

by Mike Webb

To the Dirt Bike boys

I just got back from the great Pacific North west which lived up to its reputation for technical, wet and true off road. Team FMF Suzuki had a full plate this weekend as we had our WORCS series regulars Nathan Woods, Ryan Orr, Jonathan Davis and Blake Savage and we had our GNCC racers Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins making an appearance as well. Oh yea, we had our adopted part time off road racer Travis Pastrana drop in for the WORCS X on Sat. night as well.

Saturday was the unclassified and pro practice and rain. The already technical Straddleline facility would now truly test the racers ability as the black rocky soil had riders searching for anything resembling traction, we made our tire selections and set up choices and cleaned up everything and got ready for Sunday’s pro race. But first we had Travis in the WORCS X to watch. In typical Pastrana fashion he showed up Sat. afternoon and brought over his bike and I asked him if he needed anything, he told me no, he was all set, he had his RM 250 2 stk, with full factory Super X suspension, no hand guards or pipe guard. We backed off his clickers and he went out for his practice and qualifiers.

Thankfully Travis is incredibly talented; he negotiated all the obstacles calmly and got ready for the night. Between the rain and the difficult course all the riders were struggling, including Travis in the big rock section. Later in the night Travis slipped and fell and kind of smacked his head. He was a bit dingy afterward, but that didn’t stop him from signing autographs for his legions of fans. I’m telling you, the guy is pure entertainment.

Sunday dawned misty but no rain. The first turn was chaos, the Suzuki boys all gated between 7^th and 10^th . Unfortunately Charlie Mullins was punted off the first turn and ended up face down in a mud lake in the in field of the MX track. Joshua and Nathan both entered the woods about 7^th and 8^th . The first lap bit Josh as he was really aggressive in the slick conditions. He passed about four riders in the woods section, but in a fast up hill section he lost traction and threw it away big time. The crash broke the clutch cover and tore off the foot peg and ended his day.

Nathan got through the first lap, but never got comfortable on the track. Every time he tried to push he would lose the front end and crash, he was getting really frustrated and eventually finished 6^th , which is not what he expected. I know he was really disappointed, but there is nothing to panic about. Nathan puts an unreal amount of pressure on himself especially at this race where he wanted to make amends for this season. Unfortunately this was not the track that would allow you to make up time or take big chances. We now have Rodney Smith working with Nathan to get ready for 6 days and then to come back for the remaining WORCS events.

This was Charlie Mullins first big race on the 450 RMZ and as far as I’m concerned it was a huge success. As I said before, Charlie went flying into a mud lake at he start and got back on his bike just before the semi pro gate dropped. He came in after lap one and changed gloves and goggles, but in the WOCS X section he stalled the 450 and kicked the thing forever. He finally got going and methodically worked his way back up. Every lap he picked up the pace, and eventually finished a very commendable 5^th over all. I was super happy with Charlie’s ride, he rode the 4 stk correctly, he never gave up and looked incredibly fit after the race.

All in all it was a good weekend considering all the things that happened. Everybody worked there butt off and I want to send out a big shout to all our behind the scene’s personnel Dave Dye, James Davis, Greg Savage and Rodney Smith who not only helped with all the work but also annihilated the 30 and 40 expert class.

Notes

I was really happy for Kurt Casselli, on the last lap as he came through the pro pit area; every team was applauding his ride not only for the incredible performance but for dealing with the adversity of his fathers passing. It was a truly heroic moment.

Taddy’s crash in Sat. unclassified was gnarly, word has it that his bike ran out of gas on the take off of the uphill triple. Kurt told me he was really busted up, with multiple face fractures.

This track was a true off road event, between the super difficult WORCS X section, then the moto cross track and the tight technical woods this place tested you. It says a lot about the caliber of the WORCS pro’s, these guys can do it all.

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