Yamaha’s Gary Sutherlin proved the rider to beat at round two of the AMA National Hare and Hound Championship, crossing the finishing line victorious ahead of Ricky Brabec and Jacob Argubright.
The 2017 AMA KENDA/SRT National Hare & Hound series ventured east to the great state of New Mexico for the infamous Tarantula 100, hosted by Praire Dawgs MC and Gas It Offroad. A fast, yet challenging, 112-mile course consisting of two loops sprawled across the southern desert awaited riders ready to take on the second round of the season. In conjunction with the Gas It Offroad series, local riders both Pro and Amateur alike mixed up the rankings across the board. Saturday brought high temps for the youth riders, but changed overnight to cool and overcast weather for the big bike feature on Sunday.
Over 30 Pro riders (not including Pro 250) took to the front row of the unorthodox start this weekend; inclusive of both National and local Pro's ready to battle it out in the New Mexico sand. Off the start, Ryan Smith quickly lit his Rick's Custom Shutters Yamaha to grab the holeshot ahead of Axel Pearson and Gary Sutherlin. But it wasn't long before Sutherlin put the hammer down to get out front as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, both JCR Honda's Ricky Brabec and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jacob Argubright were near last off the line. With nothing but clean air ahead, Sutherlin charged to build a gap knowing it would be speed that would separate him from the competition.
Smith, Joe Wasson, Cody Schafer and Travis Porter all tucked in behind the leader during the first few miles. Unfortunately, Wasson's day was cut short when a hard crash resulted in a hospital trip. Charging from behind, both Brabec and Argubright made their way to the front pack over the next 40-miles. Coming into pit one, Sutherlin held a near one-minute lead over Brabec, who sat just in front of Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Precision Concepts rider Justin Morgan and Purvines DA8 Yamaha's Axel Pearson.
On loop two, Argubright made the pass on Morgan and Pearson for third place overall. Sutherlin's teammate Nick Burson charged ahead in sixth place ahead of locals Cody Schafer and Travis Porter. Meanwhile, a good battle was ensuing between Nic Garvin, Ryan Smith and Nick Stover for 9th, 10th and 11th overall. Coming in for pit two, Sutherlin led Brabec and Argubright onto the third and final loop until the KTM Finish Line for his first victory of the season, almost two -minutes ahead of the pack.
FMF PRO 250
The FMF Pro 250 class offered some of the most exciting racing of the day, as the top five riders swapped positions throughout the 112 mile race. Except for Tyler Lynn, who moved out front and never looked back. Braydon Bland, Nick Tolman, Morgan Crawford and Daemon Woolslayer all kept each other honest on the course from start to finish. Coming into pit one, Tolman held second place behind Lynn, with Woolslayer close behind.
On loop two Tolman kept his pace, while Bland made the pass for third on Crawford. Woolslayer unfortunately fell back to fifth overall, where he would ultimately place at the finish. Coming into the KTM Finish Line with the win was Lynn, followed over a minute later by Bland, and Tolman close behind.
Round two saw an action packed Women A race, as Britney Gallegos and round one winner FMF KTM Factory Racing's Kacy Martinez raced wheel-to-wheel over the 112 miles. Off the start, Martinez got a solid jump while Gallegos struggled to get her bike started. A fired up Gallegos quickly began to hunt down Martinez, wasting no time to catch the front runners. Coming in on pit one, Gallegos led Martinez by just 0.15 seconds. Utah's superstar Rebecca Stout followed just 1:38 behind of the front runners, and just ahead of Chidester Transport's Stephanie Woolslayer.
On loop two, Stout began to suffer from clutch malfunction that ultimately cost her the podium position. Meanwhile, Gallegos and Martinez came through to head out on their third and final loop just three-seconds apart. Loop three saw the girls race in an all out sprint to the finish, and it was Gallegos who would come out on top ahead of Martinez and Woolslayer.
On Saturday, the youth gathered on the ZipTy Start Line in their bright orange Kurt Caselli Foundation visibility bibs, starting with the Pee Wee's. Acting as Hare for the Youth Hound Development presented by Fasst Co., 2016 series champion Ricky Brabec set off on the course. Ryker Sperry was deemed fastest hound, catching Brabec and earning $25 in Fasst Co. Bucks. A quick loop made for great spectating as the battle between nearly the entire class ensued over the next 30-minutes. Ultimately it was Ryker Sperry who took the overall win ahead of Sean Taylor Freeman and Troy Lee Pickens.
Race two saw the Micro Mini Jr. Jr. Girls and Girls classes, prepared to take on a 6-mile course over the next hour. The action started with Purvines DA8 Yamaha Pro Axel Pearson taking off as hare, followed shortly by the wave of the green flag. Lane Forbes sprinted off the start, and ultimately caught Pearson to earn himself $25 in Fasst Co. Bucks.
Forbes immediately felt the heat coming from Jett Lessing (in his first 65cc race!), and the two battled it out over the next fives laps. Meanwhile, Ruffin Dodson kept his sights on the front runners for a consistent performance in third from start to finish. Taking the Junior Girls win, Ty Woolslayer raced to first in class, and fourth overall.
To conclude the day, Purvines DA8 Yamaha's Nick Burson set off as the Youth Hound Development Hare, and the Super Mini and Jr. Mini's anxiously revved their engines before hitting the kill button for the dead engine start. Mason Matthies jumped off the line with his sights set on Burson. He ultimately caught Burson to win the $50 in Fasst Co. Bucks, but shortly after missed a turn and lost valuable time, which allowed Cody Kurtz and Hagen Boyce to get by. Local rider Gavin Eck put forth an impressive ride, chasing Matthies and waiting for an opportunity to pass.
Attempting to recover from his mistake, Matthies chased down Kurtz and Boyce, and ultimately moved into the lead for a wheel to wheel battle with Kurtz. Meanwhile, Kendyl Dolk, Nick Saiz and Karson Boyce had a battle of their own looking to catch the front runners, all staying within seconds of one another. Kurtz eventually capitalized on Matthies clutch misfortune, securing himself the overall win. Boyce followed in for second overall, while Eck secured the final podium position. Dolk and Saiz rounded out the top five overall after a hard fought ride to the finish.
Round three of the NHHA heads to Murphy, Idaho Saturday March 25th. For more information check out www.nationalhareandhound.com
Words: Meg Argubright | Images: Mark Kariya