Irvine, Calif. – Temperatures reached the triple digits in Surprise, Ariz., this weekend for Round 4 of World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) at Speedworld MX Park. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert took early control of both races, going 1-1 on the weekend in front of his hometown crowd. Despite finishing sixth on Saturday, teammate Bobby Garrison finished second on Sunday to claim second overall. Justin Soulé finished strong in third place Saturday, but could only manage eighth on Sunday and finished sixth overall. Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Gary Sutherlin completed Kawasaki’s sweep of the podium in third place. Hometown hero, Destry Abbott competed in his first WORCS race of the year finishing eighth overall. In the Pro 2 class, Team Green’s Justin Seeds got the early lead and ran away with the win.
In Saturday’s 60-minute moto, Robert got off to a decent start aboard his KX™450F and came around the first corner in fourth. As they headed into the off-road section, Robert knew he had to make his passes fast before losing too much time on the leaders. Before the end of the first lap the leader missed the pit entrance allowing Robert to fly by. The battle ensued as Robert was stalked by second place for three laps before building a gap. By the checkered flag Robert had established a 40-second lead.
“The track was really nasty,” said Robert. “You had to search for lines and really use the whole track to avoid the holes and chop. The heat was pretty intense. I live here so you think I would be used to it, but it’s really only been this hot for a week or so. Once I was in the lead I just tried to stay smooth and on the last lap the pit board said +40 so it that was nice to be able to cruise the last lap.”
Sunday’s moto would prove to be a true test as the riders had to endure 90-minutes on the beat up, desert course. For Robert it was déja-vu, when he saw the leader once again go flying off track on the first lap, handing Robert the lead, which he maintained for the rest of the moto. This time he would build over a minute lead on second place and finish a perfect 1-1 to take his second consecutive overall win. Robert now holds a 25-point lead in the championship.
“It was really nice to race so close to home for a change,” said Robert. “I think it made all the difference. I was able to go home Saturday night, relax and sleep in my own bed. Also, having all my family and people that I’ve grown up racing around was awesome.”
Adapting to Change
On Saturday, Garrison got off to a great start, but a few mistakes on the first lap set him back to eighth. Small tip-overs each lap kept him from moving forward until the last few laps. He was able to pass teammate Abbott in the endurocross section two corners from the finish to cross the line sixth. Garrison and the rest of the team made some major changes to accommodate for the track conditions on Sunday. Garrison sat fourth for the first half of the race until it was time to pit. Known for having the fastest pit-stops in the series, Garrison entered the pits in fourth and left in second place, showing the importance of a strong team. His second-place finish on Sunday also secured second overall for the weekend.
“Sunday went a lot better than Saturday,” said Garrison. “I stayed off the ground and although I didn’t get a great start I was able to push up towards the front. I had a really fast pit where I was able to jump from fourth to second. From there I just tried to stay smooth and endure the heat. The bike was awesome, we made some suspension changes for Sunday and that made all the difference.”
Soulé came out Saturday ready for battle. Starting second, he tried to keep pace with his teammate, but started feeling the effects of the 100-degree heat. Soulé was able to back it down and ride comfortably in third place without anyone challenging his position. With temperatures even higher on Sunday and lap times over nine minutes, it only took three laps before the heat became a factor. Soulé slowly started feeling the effects of the heat and began to slow. He would finish ninth to take sixth overall on the weekend. Soulé currently sits fourth in points.
“The track was choppy and slick,” said Soulé. “You really had to square up corners to avoid the chop. It was really fast which was nice because it helped cool us down in the 100+ heat, but it was still really tough to push in that heat.”
Showing the Kids How It’s Done
Competing in his first WORCS race of the year, Abbott was ready to show the young bucks how it’s done. He was shuffled back off the start, but quickly started making ground in the off-road section and made his way up to sixth. He would remain in sixth until the last lap when a bobble in the endurocross section allowed Garrison by. Sunday he got a great start aboard his KX450F and was second around the first turn. Knowing he didn’t have the pace of the leaders, Abbott settled into his own pace that he could run for the full 90-minutes. Abbott would eventually finish sixth on Sunday, for eighth overall.
“This was the first WORCS race I’ve done all year and I had a lot of fun,” said Abbott. “The bike was awesome, I got two great starts. I felt really good on Sunday. I was second off the start and rode solid to sixth. I had a lot of fun this weekend, my fitness felt great and my bike was awesome so it felt great to be back.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green had a great showing at Speedworld MX Park. Rounding out a Kawasaki sweep of the podium was Sutherlin who went 5-3 on the weekend to finish third overall. After winning 250A on Saturday, Seeds dominated the Pro 2 class on Sunday, and Team Green’s Brandy Richards easily took the win in the Women A class.
“It was tough to lead out there,” said Seeds. “It was so choppy that I let second by and followed behind. We pitted at the same time and when I got some water on my back that really energized me. I was able to put some time between us and take the win.”
Triple Digit Temperatures
The heat was no joke in Surprise, as temperatures were over 100-degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. Many rider’s struggled with the heat and every lap at least one rider was in the pits trying to stay hydrated. In Sunday’s 90-minute moto, only eight riders were able to cross the finish line, all of which were Kawasaki-mounted.
The next round of WORCS will take place May 19-20 at Racetown 395 in Adelanto, Calif. In the meantime, the Monster Energy Kawasaki’s off-road team will jump down to the KX™250F to compete in Round 1 of the AMA EnduroCross series on May 4th at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.
World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) – Round 4
Speedworld MX Park – Surprise, Ariz.
WORCS Pro Overall
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
2. BOBBY GARRISON, HESPERIA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
3. GARY SUTHERLIN, BAKERSFIELD, CALIF., KAWASAKI
4. ROBBY BELL, RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIF., KAWASAKI
5. Mike Brown, Bluff City, Tenn., KTM
6. JUSTIN SOULE’, VICTORVILLE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
7. RYAN ABBATOYE, RIDGECREST, CALIF., KAWASAKI
8. DESTRY ABBOTT, PEORIA, ARIZ., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
9. RHETT URSETH, CASE GRANDE, ARIZ., KAWASAKI
10. COREY FLOYD, ALTA LOMA, CALIF., KAWASAKI
WORCS Pro Points Standings
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 221
2. Mike Brown, Bluff City, Tenn., KTM, 196
3. BOBBY GARRISON, HESPERIA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 190
4. JUSTIN SOULE’, VICTORVILLE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 173
5. Kyle Summers, Florissant, Colo., YAMAHA, 157
6. RYAN ABBATOYE, RIDGECREST, CALIF., KAWASAKI, 148
7. GARY SUTHERLIN, BAKERSFIELD, CALIF., KAWASAKI, 146
8. ROBBY BELL, RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CALIF., KAWASAKI, 131
9. Ross Neely, Chester, Calif., Yamaha, 98
10. COLTON SHONDECK, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., KAWASAKI, 81