WORCS 2021, ROUND 2: TAYLOR ROBERT COMES BACK!
Red Bull KTM’s Taylor Robert finally got himself back onto the top step of the Pro 450 podium after winning round two of Rocky Mountain ATV MC WORCS Series Presented by Polaris RZR and Dirt Bike at Canyon MX. Mateo Oliveira won the Pro 250 event, Alex Morgan finished first in Pro-Am and Brandy Richards topped the Pro Women field.
The event was held on the motocross circuit and surrounding off-road trails at Canyon MX. The fast course is known for its high speeds so officials installed several Pro sections to help add technicality the circuit. One section that comprised large tires challenged the entire field. Those that were tired at the end crashed and fell back, so fitness was key.
Robert put his fitness on full display as he outdueled Zach Bell on the first lap taking the holeshot. From there, Robert led the remaining laps in a dominant run to his first win of 2021. Robert’s factory KTM teammate Dante Oliveira was second, followed by the Kawasaki of Bell.
“It was a really intense holeshot with Zach Bell,” said Robert. “We were side by side going down the hill and I really wanted to go into the off road in front. Once there, I rode a really solid race and didn’t make any mistakes. I was pretty excited at how clean my race was. It’s been a few races since I’ve won so it feels good to get a win again. Dante and I are now tied so it feels like we’re starting over; we’ll have a new series in round three.”
Robert praised WORCS officials for adding the Pro sections. He especially liked the tire section, where four large construction vehicle tires made for a fun and challenging obstacle. “I was glad they added the Pro sections because the track was really fast,” explained Robert. “The tires were definitely interesting.”
The tires were also good for Oliveira. After a slow start, he used that section to his advantage to crawl back through the field. Though dejected to miss a second consecutive victory, Oliveira is ready to challenge Robert as the season goes forward. “I ended up getting lucky on a few passes and I made a pass in the tires every lap,” said Oliveira. I’m a little bummed with my performance. I’m ready to get home, train and get after him in Havasu.”
Bell was running second ahead of Oliveira when a rear tire problem showed up going into a turn on the back section. Though he had to run the final laps with great caution, he still finished third. “Once I caught up to Taylor, I was following him and picking off some lines,” said Bell. “I came in too hot on one of the long straightaways and the tire compressed my neck. I struggled with some traction, but I gave it my all today. I just have to keep working.”
In Pro 250, Mateo Oliveira followed his KTM teammate Angus Riordan into the first turn, but quickly took over the lead. From there he was never seriously challenged. After a hard crash in the first round, Oliveira was glad to get a win to help knock the pain out of his injured shoulder. Mason Ottersberg was second on a Yamaha, ahead of Colton Aeck on a KTM.
“I got off to a great start and I trailed behind Angus until I put a move on him on the back straightaways and I am just so thankful to get the win,” he said. “I came into this weekend trying to conserve points after I had a big get-off last weekend.”
Ottersberg is new to off road racing after having a long career in both outdoor and indoor motocross racing. He seems to be getting the hang of the new riding discipline as he passed Aeck in the tire section late in the race and overcame fatigue induced get-offs to finish second. “We’re learning and every race I’m getting better and more confident,” said Ottersberg. “I went down twice and my bars were a little off so I just had to regroup. I knew I had to just finish the race and at that point it was all about the points.”
Aeck had tried off-road racing early in his career and it didn’t really work out for him. After riding motocross for several years, he’s back in WORCS and he’s a contender. After losing second to Ottersberg, he held on to third and earned his second consecutive podium. “I tried a few off-road races back when I was a B rider and had a lot of bad luck so I gave that up,” said Aeck. “Luckily I have John behind me and we’re out here having fun.”
In Pro-Am, Alex Morgan nearly lost the race before it started, after spinning just out of the start. After regrouping, Morgan rode his Husqvarna through the field, passing Evan Stice in the tires. He then took the lead from Cody Miller and fought him off to score the victory. Miller was second on his KTM ahead of Stice’s Honda.
“I came from the back after I spun pretty good off the gate.,” said Morgan. “The tires were tough. I thought I had it down pretty well early, but I had a few crashes on the last few laps. I passed Evan in the tires and Cody and I went back and forth. We diced it for a couple of laps and then I found myself out there alone.”
Miller hails from Peoria, AZ and chose this as one of the handful of WORCS races he’s running this season. Miller podiumed here last year, as well. “I was just doing this as a one-off, but I may come to some other select races,” said Miller. “I’m just picking out races that are fun.”
Stice led from the start, but the track soon overwhelmed him and the tires were tough on his run. Still, he held on for third. “I got off to a good start, but I had never ridden a track like this and I had trouble with the tires,” said Stice. “On lap three I couldn’t get over the tires as well as these guys.”
Brandy Richards won the Women Pro race. Kaitlyn Jacobs was second on her KTM, followed by Ava Silverstri on a Yamaha. Richards has a winning streak going back to the first race of 2020.
“It’s a little hard to pass out there with all of the rocks and those guys don’t like to move,” said Richards. “It was hard but I had fun.”
The WORCS motorcycles will return to Lake Havasu City, AZ for round three on March 26-28th.