“This weekend went pretty awesome, you really can’t ask for more than a 1-1 weekend,” said Robert. “Thanks to Destry Abbott I got great starts off the dead-engine start on both days. He has really been helping me improve my technique for dead-engine starts and it’s really been paying off. On Saturday I got a good start, pulled into the lead by the third lap and checked out for the win. I got an even better start Sunday and came around the first turn right behind Justin (Soulé). By the second turn I moved into the lead. After three solid laps I was already pulling away from the pack, but went down which let (Justin) Summers by for two laps. By lap six I was able to push back out front and then just rode my own race from there. It felt great to take back in the points lead. I am really looking forward to the next round at Speedworld. I have been riding there since I was four years old so I’m really looking to extend my points lead.”Last year at Lake Havasu Garrison kept Robert honest, battling hard for the lead both days of the weekend and finishing on the podium in the runner-up spot behind Robert. This year he was looking forward to a rematch and expected to give Robert a run for his money, but the WORCS crew threw him a curveball with the dead-engine start. Both days Garrison got poor starts and was forced to battle from the back of the pack. He worked his way through the field both days to finish 4-5 and take fifth overall over the weekend.
“It was a pretty tough weekend for me,” said Garrison. “I really like this track and typically do well in the sand, but the dead-engine starts really gave me troubles. On Saturday, I was the last one off the line. As I was working through the pack I got hit really hard in the goggles by a rock. I had a tough time seeing until I went through the pit and swapped goggles. I was able to get right on the back wheel of (Mike) Brown by the last lap and think if I would have had just one more lap I could have moved past him into third. On Sunday, Destry (Abbott) helped me work on my dead-engine start technique before the race. I did a little better off the start, but still had to work through the pack. I got a little dehydrated and started getting leg cramps halfway through the race. I really tried to hold onto fourth, where I rode for 10 of 15 laps, but wasn’t feeling good and let one rider slip past. I really feel the starts are what cost me this weekend so I am going to be focusing on improving my dead-engine starts moving forward.”Soulé is one of the hardest working riders in the sport. While he has been competing on his KX450F in the WORCS series, he has also been putting in a lot of time on his KX™250F training for the upcoming AMA EnduroCross season. Unfortunately, earlier this week he sustained an injury to his left ankle and had to ride in safe mode at Lake Havasu. Despite riding in pain all weekend, he got great starts and finished a respectable sixth overall, with a 7-6 moto result.
“I really did the best I could this weekend,” said Soulé. “I injured my ankle training on Monday and was riding to salvage points this weekend. The track was pretty rough so it was a lot of work just trying to keep my feet on the pegs. I just tried to ride smart and conserve myself for the upcoming endurocross season, which is only six weeks away. I need to make sure I am 100 percent ready to go for the opening round in Vegas. This weekend didn’t start off that great since I swamped my bike in the lagoon during Saturday morning practice. Thanks to my mechanic Jeff Decker for getting all the water out of my KX450F in time for the Saturday Pro race. On Sunday I was happy to get the holeshot, but knew I wouldn’t be able to hold the lead long. I still tried to latch on to the leaders, but couldn’t keep up the pace with my ankle hurting. I just rode conservatively and finished sixth overall.”
In her hometown of Lake Havasu City, Richards knows what it takes to win on the deep, sandy course. In the Women’s A class, Richards nailed the holeshot aboard her KX250F and led every lap of the race to secure her fourth-consecutive win of the season. She currently sits at the top of the Women’s A leaderboard with a 16-point lead over second place. In the co-ed Super A class, she nailed the holeshot aboard her KX™100 and led every lap until the checkers to secure her second win of the season. Richards currently holds the runner-up spot in the Super A class points standings, only nine points off the leader.
While you typically need a contract to ride out of the Monster Energy Kawasaki pit, Dirt Rider author Chris Green was invited to spend a weekend competing in the WORCS Pro 2 class aboard a factory Kawasaki KX450F, complete with a dedicated mechanic and suspension technician. Kawasaki technician Ryan Collins worked as Green’s mechanic and Brett Leef ensured his suspension was dialed to perfection come race time. While Green does not currently compete in any series, his performance on the track impressed everyone. He finished sixth overall in a class packed with talent, finishing just behind the 2011 WORCS Pro 2 champion, Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Justin Seeds.
“It was awesome being treated like a factory rider,” said Green. “After this experience I understand how lucky these factory riders really are. Everything from having my gear cleaned after races to getting gourmet meals served up makes all the difference on race day. Having a full-time mechanic and suspension guy to help make changes and adjust ride height really takes a lot off your mind so you can relax and just focus on riding. This really is a full team effort and they do a great job taking care of their riders. On Saturday, we really got the front forks dialed in and played with the ride height, which we set up with 110 millimeters of sag. For me, the biggest thing is the suspension. Even if you have a stock motor, if the suspension it set up right you are not going to get worn out. During the Pro 2 race on Sunday, I didn’t get the best start, but I just kept charging and was amazed that the number on the pit board kept getting lower with every lap. I was really happy to finish sixth overall. I’ve actually raced this track on a stock bike and it’s a lot more difficult, but on the KX450F I could really plow through stuff. I have always wanted to be a professional racer and working full-time at Dirt Rider I don’t have time to train and compete, so I really loved this whole experience.”
The weather at Lake Havasu was perfect on Saturday, with sunny skies and temperatures hovering around the mid-80s. However, an approaching storm front on Sunday brought high-winds and turbulent sand storms. Halfway through the Sunday Pro Race, the wind went into overdrive and sand drifts inundated the entire paddock. While the riders were getting pushed around in the air off the jumps by the gusting winds, spectators battled just to catch a glimpse of the race.
While the course at Crazy Horse Campgrounds has a reputation for being rough, sandy, and littered with rocks, this year it seemed more chewed up than usual. A week earlier the WORCS ATV weekend saw several hundred UTV and ATV racers tearing around the tight course. Although the WORCS track crew spent the week attempting to recondition the track, the damage remained just below the surface. By the time racing wrapped up on Saturday, the track was already in pretty rough shape.
“I liked the changes they made to the track this year,” said Robert. “It had a couple long straightaways that got pretty choppy. I actually like it when the track gets rough. It seems like everyone else gets slower and I can get out front and pace myself at the same speed or go faster and stay on top of everything. The rougher it gets the more creative you have to be with line choice. You have to stay out of the rough spots and connect all the smooth lines. It was important to get out front as early as possible out here, the ATVs last weekend really chewed this track up and it seemed like there were more rocks out there than usual.”In four weeks, the Monster Energy Kawasaki Off Road Team heads to Speedworld MX Park in Surprise, Ariz., for Round 4 of the World Off Road Championships Series. Robert is confident he will be able to extend his points lead at his home track while Garrison and Soulé look to climb back on the box as well.
World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) – Round 4
Crazy Horse Campground – Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
March 24-25, 2012
Pro Class Overall Result
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (1-1)
2. Mike Brown, KTM (3-2)
3. Kyle Summers, Yamaha (2-3)
4. RYAN ABBATOYE, KAWASAKI (5-4)
5. BOBBY GARRISON, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (4-5)
6. JUSTIN SOULE, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (7-6)
7. Ross Neely, Yamaha (8-8)
8. GARY SUTHERLIN, KAWASAKI (6-10)
9. COLTON HAAKER, KAWASAKI (10-7)
10. COLE SHONDECK, KAWASAKI (12-9)
Pro Class Championship Standings
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 171
2. Mike Brown, KTM, 163
3. Kyle Summers, Yamaha, 157
4. BOBBY GARRISON, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 153
5. JUSTIN SOULE, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 141
6. RYAN ABBATOYE, KAWASAKI, 119
7. GARY SUTHERLIN, KAWASAKI, 110
8. Ross Neely, Yamaha, 98
9. ROBBY BELL, KAWASAKI, 95
10. COLTON HAAKER, KAWASAKI, 81