Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert scored his fifth overall win of the 2012 World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) at Round 8 of the series at Pala Raceway in Pala, Calif. Kawasaki riders swept the Pro class podium at the series’ inaugural event at Pala Raceway with Robert leading the charge aboard his KX450F with a 1-1 moto result. Monster Energy/THR/Precision Concepts/Kawasaki’s Robby Bell kept Robert honest both days of the action-packed event landing the runner-up spot on the podium with a 2-2 result. Rounding out the podium was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Bobby Garrison who finished fifth on Saturday, but battled back through the field Sunday to secure third overall with a 5-3 result.
After a top-five finish at the X Games Los Angeles EnduroX event, Robert was looking forward to getting back in the WORCS championship hunt. On Saturday, he got a good start and came around the first turn in second, but was able to quickly power his KX450F into the lead by the next turn. Robert checked out and took the checkered flag to earn his ninth moto win of the season. On Sunday, he ripped the holeshot on his KX450F and set a fast pace around the course. Although he briefly lost the lead to fellow Kawasaki rider Bell around the halfway mark, he was able to retake the lead to earn his fifth overall podium of the season. Robert continues to extend his lead in the championship standings and currently holds a 55-point lead on second.
“I had a lot of fun this weekend at Pala,” said Robert. “Saturday went great. I got a good start and got out front early and took the win. On Sunday, I got the holeshot on my Kawasaki and set my own pace out front. Robby (Bell) was riding really well and was right behind me most of the race. He made a pass on me around halfway through the race, so I tried getting him back right away and as he bobbled a little going into a turn, I ended up running into his rear tire and I fell over. After I went down he pulled a little gap on me, but I was able to reel him back in and we kept battling back and forth for a couple laps before he fell over and I got back around him. I am pretty excited to be heading into Cahuilla Creek with a 55-point lead. If I can take the win out there I can clinch the championship a round early.”
Back from Baja
Since winning the SCORE Baja 500 six weeks ago, Bell has been a man on a mission. On Saturday, he got pinched off after the start and came around the first lap in fifth position. He began charging his way toward the front and was able to maneuver into third by the second lap. A few laps later, Bell made the pass for second and held on to the finish. On Sunday, he got a great jump off the gate and came around the first turn in second position behind Robert. By the halfway point, Bell made a pass on Robert and a battle ensued. Although Bell set the fastest lap of the weekend aboard his KX450F, a couple crashes would cost him the top of the podium. Bell finished second overall with a 2-2 moto result and currently sits third in the points standings.
“Sunday was an epic race,” said Bell. “The first 40 minutes of the race I was just hanging behind Taylor (Robert) and he was flying. I felt him make a push so I picked it up a little bit and got right behind him. We had a pretty sweet little dice right before the rocks and that’s where I made the pass. I was feeling pretty good after the pass. The next few laps we had a sweet battle for the lead, going back and forth. It turned out to be a good show for the fans and I really appreciated hearing them cheering us on. Even though he got back around me, I’m stoked to be on the podium. It felt good to be up front with Taylor pushing for the win.”
Back on the Box
After injuring his shoulder a few weeks ago, Garrison was happy when he arrived at Pala and saw the well-groomed course. Without having to worry about getting knocked around a rough course, Garrison was able to focus on finding and connecting lines. While he didn’t have the race he hoped for on Saturday, he was able to finish fifth. On Sunday, he got a good start and moved into third position by the second lap. He hung with the leaders for the first half of the race, but once they pulled a gap, Garrison just focused on himself. He never went down the entire 90-minute moto and finished in third place. Garrison currently sits second in the championship points with a 43-point lead on third.
“I’m pretty happy with the overall result,” said Garrison. “On Saturday I felt like I had the speed to be on the podium, but I was riding too tight, made too many mistakes and just couldn’t find my flow. I tried to calm things down on Sunday which seemed to work out better. I got a good jump off the start and was able to move into third by the second lap. I just focused on being consistent, saving energy and keeping it on two wheels. I thought the track crew did a great job out here. There are not a lot of off-road elements to work with around Pala, but they did a good job of finding some pretty rocky and technical trails. The moto section of the course was really good. They prepped it nice, watered it and tilled it, which made it a lot of fun to ride.”
World Class Facility
While Pala Raceway is known for its world-class motocross track, it also hosts a separate veteran track and a beginner track, which were both open to the public throughout the weekend. After walking the pro track on Friday before the event began, Robert was confident he was going to be the man to beat. While the off-road section of the course consisted of rocky, single-track trails winding through the nearby hills, the majority of the course incorporated much of the same motocross track used for the AMA Pro Motocross championship last year.
“The moto portion of the track at Pala was awesome,” said Robert. “It was a lot of fun to ride a good moto track with some decent jumps. The big triple and the step-up jumps were my favorite features. Overall, the track was designed really well and flowed great. They also prepped the dirt really well both days which made it that much better. I really enjoyed the track at Pala and hope we can come back next year.”
With the introduction of fuel-injected dirt bikes over the past few years, bike technology has been improving by leaps and bounds. As bikes continue to evolve into the digital age, technicians are finding laptop computers just as useful as any other specialized tool in their toolbox.
“The Kawasaki Racing System (KRS) software for EFI tuning puts everything right in front of you,” said Team Manager Jason Smigel. “Any kind of questions you might have about the bike’s performance is laid out right on the laptop. Not only does it allow us to customize the ignition maps for every course we race on, it also has a dashboard feature where you can easily read all of the engine’s sensors and perform diagnostics. This software is easy to learn and once you figure it out, it will drastically cut the time needed to tune the ignition system. Not having to fiddle with a carburetor and change the jets out saves enormous amounts of time. Now you just plug a laptop into the bike and change the settings with the click of a mouse, it’s that easy.”
In four weeks, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s off-road team heads to Cahuilla Creek MX in Anza, Calif., for Round 9 of the World Off Road Championship Series. While the course at Cahuilla Creek is situated right in the middle of rattlesnake country, it’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Robert who looks to strike one more time. A win by Robert there can wrap up the championship before the final round.