Gary Sutherlin won his first race of the season during the Pro Motorcycle portion of the Rocky Mountain WORCS Series presented by Maxxis and Dirt Wheels at Honolulu Hills Raceway.
Sutherlin inherited the lead in the final laps when Blayne Thompson, who had led the entire race to that point, retired from the event with a broken wheel. Precision Concept’s Justin Seeds finished second, ahead of his teammate Robby Bell, who charged from last to get the final spot on the podium. Michael Del Fante and Travis Damon rounded out the top five.
Just prior to the event, the strongest storm in 20 years hit the California coast. The storm, appropriately named Lucifer, dumped heavy rain on the track on Friday. Fortunately, the rain stopped and after some major flooding on Friday, and conditions were near perfect for Sunday’s pro main.
Thompson got out front early on his Honda in the two-hour race, and had a great lead going on Sutherlin in second. However, bad luck struck again and Thompson had a wheel come apart during the final laps of the race, taking him out of the lead, and the race, for the second time in as many races. Sutherlin inherited the lead on his Yamaha and went on to win.
“The track got better as the day went on and Blayne was riding great,” said Sutherlin. “I was just trying to pace off of him and race until the end.
“Unfortunately, he had problems, but my hat is off to him and to everyone else on the podium. The track got great toward the end.”
Justin Seeds took the holeshot and led most of the first lap. He ran consistently in second for the rest of the event. He made a charge on Sutherlin at the end and just held off Bell to earn the runner-up slot.
“I’ve never been the kind of guy to send it on the first few laps,” said Seeds. “I had to wait until found my lines and that happened 30 minutes into the race. I kept them close enough and I was able to put a run on them at the end.”
Robby Bell, who started last on his Kawasaki, rode through the pack to score the podium, his second this season. After several battles with Damon in one of the track’s mud section, the defending WORCS champion made it up to fifth on the final lap and charged two more positions to snag the final spot on the podium.
Michael Del Fante continues to run consistent races in search of his first WORCS podium. Del Fante was running third on the final and just couldn’t hold off Bell in the end.
Travis Damon held off Bell for a number of laps in one of the race’s fiercest battles. Both fought it out, making contact several times, before Bell passed him during his charge to the front. He finished fifth on a Honda.
In Pro 2, Dante Oliveira pulled off his first victory of the season, after charging back from a difficult start. Riding a KTM, Oliveira beat out Logan Chambers, who won the first two races of the season on his KTM, both times just ahead of Oliveira. Alex Dorsey was third on a KTM.
In Pro 2 Lights, Clayton Hengeveld took a shot at redemption on his Kawasaki and nabbed his first victory of the season. Austin Serpa, who led every lap but the last one, was second, ahead of Cooper Abbott on a Yamaha. Hengeveld finished third in the first race and second in round two.
Austin Serpa took the lead at the start and appeared well on his way to second consecutive victory. Though he made a charge on the final lap, Hengeveld held him off and he finished second.
The next race for WORCS off road series is the motorcycle-only event in Lake Havasu City, AZ. That race is scheduled for March 10-12th.
Words: Harlen Foley