KTM’s Gary Sutherlin made his return to the WORCS series in excellent fashion by winning the Sand Hollow round in Hurricane Utah. It wasn’t easy, though. He had to deal with current points leader Robby Bell as well as a very difficult racecourse that combined sand dunes and slick rock in a way that had most riders on the defense. “Robby was faster today,” said Gary afterward. “I don’t think I’m riding like myself quite yet, but I never fell down and that was what it took today.” An injury caused Sutherlin to miss the last two rounds of the series and virtually ended his chances at keeping the WORCS Pro number one plate, so now his season is all about winning races one at a time, which is exactly what he did.
THR/Precision Concepts Kawasaki rider Robby Bell remains the runaway points leader in the series after winning the first four rounds in a row. “Today was just a hard day at the office,” said Bell later. He was involved in a first-turn pile-up that started when Ryan Reina tagged Eric
Yorba’s rear wheel. The holeshot went to Steven Gibson with Yorba and his RPM/Klim KTM 450 in second and Zip Ty Racing Husky rider Blayne Thompson close behind. Both Gibson and Thompson would be first-lap casualties, leaving Yorba with a good lead at the end of lap one. Bell picked it up and passed most of the field on the first lap. “They did a good job with the course; it was really wide and that allowed a lot of different lines for passing,” said Bell later. He would get into the lead by the second lap, but Sutherlin was close behind. Bell knew he had his work cut out, though, because his Kawasaki had a slightly smaller fuel tank than the KTMs. Both he and his teammate Justin Seeds would have to make an extra pit stop during the two-hour race.
As the race continued, it developed into a collection of small one-on-one races. Bell and Sutherlin went back and forth in front, while Yorba and Seeds battled for third. Behind them the Pro 2 riders had their own war raging. Justin Wallis was absolutely flying on his KTM 450 with Dalton Shirey not far behind on his Zip Ty Racing Husky two-stroke. Wallis cut through most of the Pro riders and eventually would climb up to third overall. Ivan Ramirez, Travis Coy and Justin Jones all had their own battle going as well.
The final lap of the race was epic. Up front, Bell had battled back into the lead after his second pit stop, then crashed hard, giving it back to Sutherlin. “I came up on Robby and he was laying down, backwards on the course,” said Sutherlin. “From there I knew it would be a sprint to the finish.”
“Gary stopped to make sure I was okay, then I got up and had to chase him down,” said Bell. “A little while later I hit two rocks and crashed again, and that was it.” Sutherlin came in with a two-minute lead. The battle for third came down to the wire. “I thought I was catching a lapper,” said Yorba, who had been alone in fourth. Seeds had passed him earlier, but had to make his second pit stop. “Then I realized it was Seeds, and I think I surprised him.” The two of the raced side-by-side for the last mile of the race, with Yorba getting the edge at the flag. The same thing happened minutes later, between Travis Coy and Ivan Ramirez. The two KTM riders raced to the line with Coy coming out ahead. Jones followed in seventh.
The Pro Two class had some controversy at the end. Justin Wallis had a spectacular ride to finish third overall both physically and on adjusted time. But his enthusiasm had gotten out of hand during his two pit stops. He raced through the pits and incurred a four-minute penalty. That was enough to give Shirey the win, with Travis Damon in third. For full results, go to www.worcsracing.com.