Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s off road team headed south of the border to Tecate, Mexico, for the 2011 Tecate Hare Scrambles, and dominated the event. Racers battled through two loops, a total of 52 miles, winding through the Mexican desert and over a myriad of challenging obstacles on a tight, single-track course. Despite freezing temperatures and a brief snow flurry, Taylor Robert charged to the front of the field to take the overall win. Bobby Garrison fought hard looking for opportunities to make passes around racers on the tight course and finished in the runner-up spot.
After finishing runner-up in last year’s Tecate Enduro, Robert decided a Kawasaki KX™250F would better suit the technical Mexican trails for this year’s hare scramble format. He got a mid-pack start and immediately began reeling in the leader. Before the end of the first loop, Robert charged to the front of the pack and gapped the field by two minutes. He maintained his lead throughout the second loop and took the checkered flag uncontested.
“It was a really technical race,” said Robert. “I decided to go with a KX250F because I remembered how tight this course was last year. There were lots of rocky sections and tight canyons with sand washes that you really had to slow down to get through. I was in first gear a lot, which is unusual for the kind of racing I usually do. Off the start I ended up around fifth after the first couple turns and just started picking off riders. I got behind the leader and followed him for several miles looking for a place to pass. We got into some virgin trail and I found a spot to make a sketchy pass. I made it stick and started charging until the finish. It was a lot of fun.”
Battling For the Box
Reigning 2010 Tecate Enduro champion Garrison came to Mexico looking to take his second-consecutive title. Aboard his new 2012 KX™450F, he battled hard every turn of the race pushing toward the front. By the end of the first loop he was in fourth, only a few feet behind third and second. Refusing to be held up on the tight course any longer, Garrison forced a couple passes in the bushes and made them stick. He moved into second and began charging toward the leader. Garrison crossed the finish in second, less than a minute behind teammate Robert.
“Overall it went pretty good,” said Garrison. “I didn’t get the best start, but just kept working my way up. I tried to make a few moves, had a couple bobbles, but eventually moved into fourth. I got close to Robert until he moved up two positions to take over the lead. I battled through the entire first loop with (Ivan) Ramiriz and (Ian) Blythe, looking for a place to get around them, and finally got past them early in the second loop. I just kept charging from there and was looking to reel in the leader, but ended up finishing in second. My 2012 KX™450F rode awesome. It had more than enough power for the course, and the suspension was really absorbing everything. I’m pretty happy with the bike and looking forward to taking it to WORCS next season.”
Typically when you head south to Mexico, you expect warm weather and lots of sunshine. However, the weather in Tecate didn’t seem to follow the rules. The night before the race, temperatures dropped below freezing and the hacienda where the teams slept didn’t seem to provide any relief from the cold. Although the race began under clear skies, by the second loop snow flurries inundated the racers.
“The weather was crazy out here,” said Robert. “Last night was freezing cold. Even though we had a fire in our room it barely made a difference. In the morning when the race started the weather was perfect, it was sunny and cool. On the second lap the clouds moved in and it suddenly got really cold. When it started snowing I decided to pin it until the finish line. My hands started feeling numb and I just wanted to get across the finish so I could get into some warm clothes and get indoors as fast as possible.”
Since a majority of the course was tight, single-track surrounded by dense manzanita and cactus, racers had to work to find places to pass. Since the one-lined course provided almost no room to pass, Garrison found himself blasting through the bushes several times in an attempt to get around slower racers. Although his hard work and determination eventually paid off, Garrison’s jersey showed the abuse he withstood to earn a place on the podium.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of room to pass out there,” said Garrison. “The trail was really tight and packed with brush on all sides. It was really hard to get around slower racers. I kept charging through the bushes trying to make something happen. I went through a bunch of cactus and manzanita several times trying to make passes. There were so many areas where you had to lean your bike around corners and it looked like your radiator was going to get impaled by branches at any moment. Even though the dirt was perfect, making passes on that tight trail was the most challenging element of the race.”
Usually the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. In the morning race, Robert switched roles with his father, who lined up to compete against the veteran riders aboard his son’s 2011 KX450F practice bike. As his father raced around the course, Robert took on a support role helping his dad in the pit. Although he hadn’t raced in years, by the end of the race Shaun Robert took the win in the Sportsman 40+ class, only hours before his son won the event.
2011 Tecate Hare Scrambles
December 3, 2011
Pro Class Results
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. BOBBY GARRISON, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
3. Ian Blythe, KTM
4. Ivan Ramiriz, KTM
5. Colton Haaker, KTM