In one of the closest finishes in the history of AMA National Hare and Hound racing, Honda’s Ricky Brabec edged out KTM’s Taylor Robert across the finish line to claim victory at round one of the 2017 series.
- Brabec claimed the NHHA round one win
- Robert shadowed him across the finish line for second
- Brabec has just recently completed Dakar Rally with Honda
- Yamaha mounted Sutherlin was third.
- Overnight rain ensured conditions tested the 300 riders on the 80-mile course
The AMA KENDA/SRT National Hare and Hound racing action returned to the desert this past weekend where over 300 of America’s gnarliest off-road racers took to the 80-mile course for a chance at once again conquering a Hare and Hound.
Two loops, and near perfect racing conditions meant that racers would be treated to some of the best desert dirt in the history of the series, and the battles were fierce all the way through the finish.
The story of the day, however, was the top five racers who swapped positions for the lead more times than we have events this season. Battling it out bar-to-bar, Ricky Brabec, Taylor Robert, Joe Wasson, Jacob Argubright, Gary Sutherlin each took turns leading on the day.
With factory efforts from Beta, KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha, and Honda the National Hare and Hound Series has quickly become the must race off-road series of the country, and if the 2017 season goes anything like round one, we are all going to have a lot to watch this season.
After 80-miles of close competition desert racing, the top four riders were separated by only 30 seconds, with the top two crossing the checkers less than a bike length apart from each other. In the end it was two-time champion Ricky Brabec on his JCR Honda that edged out the Factory KTM of Robert.
Proving that he still have enough in the tank following his top 10 ride at Dakar Rally, Brabec shoved his wheel across the finish line first — just inches ahead of ISDE champion Robert. It was without a doubt the closest finish in NHHA history.
Not to disappoint, Purvines Yamaha’s Gary Sutherlin made a pass on Factory Husqvarna’s Jacob Argubright in the final miles to take the final podium position with Argubright less than eight seconds behind in fourth. The Factory Beta of Wasson held his own against the 450 veterans and finished a respectable 5th overall on the day.
The FMF 250 Pro Class returned for 2017 and a fleet of Yamaha’s looked to take the spot atop the box. It was only one KTM, however, that was able to hold the blue bikes off of the top step. New to the 250 pro class for 2017, Utah’s NHHA Youth ace Braydon Bland made a statement at round one finishing with a four-minute margin over the second place 250 pro racer at 11th overall, which matched his career best NHHA finish.
Joining Bland on the podium were fellow Utah racers Tyler Lynn and Daemon Woolslayer who rounded out the podium in the field of ten 250 pro racers.
For round one the Women’s class saw from multi-time X Games Medal winners, AMA Endurocross Champions, GNCC Champions. Leading the pack home was FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kacy Martinez, who is tackling the series for her first time. At 53rd overall, Martinez held her own against the boys finishing just an hour off the pace of the fastest racers and took home the Elegant Cabinetry $500 Woman’s Pro bounty. Joining Martinez on the box, each taking their share of the Elegant Cabinetry #WomenofNHHA purse were Brittney Gallegos ($300) and Rachel Gutish ($200).
Chris Swanson riding his debut NHHA event put in a solid ride to finish 24th overall win the B class. Forest Minchington, who spends his days traveling the world surfing and riding dirtbike in exotic locals such as Costa Rica, finished 26th overall after a dead last start from the A row.
Youth racing kicked off on Saturday after record rainfall in Southern California, and it was Nephi Utah’s Ryder Sperry who took the win in the first event of the season.
The second race of the day on Saturday saw the Girls division battle it out with the 65cc class. Local youth fast racers Laci Olivas and Andrew Schulz put on a show taking turns trading for the lead. Schulz who is known for being a multi-time 50cc champion in the series held his 65cc KTM wide open trying to keep up with Laci Olivas out front. The racing action was intense as the two leaders came through the scoring shoot at the end of the fourth lap side by side. In the end it was Laci Olivas who would take the checkers first (and $25 contingency from Fasst Co.), followed by Ty Woolslayer and Kassidy Laswell who finished second and third in the girls division on the day. Schulz held on to finish first in the 65cc class, and second overall by more than two minutes. Joining Andrew on the podium were Jett Lessing and Lane Forbes our reigning 65cc champion.
Closing out the day on Saturday, the heavy hitters of the youth course hit the Zip Ty Start Line in a first-ever event for the NHHA where youth racers were fighting for an overall and their chance at winning some of the contingency offered up by Fasst Co. Mason Matthies proved to be dominate on the day leading wire to wire to collect the $50 contingency from Fasst Co. The wet dirt meant awesome traction, and he screamed his Yamaha 85 to first overall by more than a minute thirty come the KTM Finish Line. Joining Matthies up on the box were Hagen Boyce and Cody Kurtz. Carson Boyce finning first in the Jr. 85cc class followed by Maxwell Shapiro and Cayden Chidester.
The NHHA heads to Alamogordo, New Mexico for round 2 of the series Saturday, February 11th.
Words: Meg Argubright | Photos: Mark Kariya | Video: Jacob Michna