Defending King of the Motos Champion Cody Webb couldn’t have gotten a better start if he had bribed the officials and the rest of his competition.
The American Beta rider, who had finished second by mere seconds after the morning loop, dominated the 2014 King of the Motos in Johnson Valley, California, today, defending his KoM crown after pulling an incredible holeshot up the rock formation known as Chocolate Thunder during the afternoon’s second, more technical, loop.
And by the time the 25-year-old American Beta rider had gone a 10th of a mile on the 32.69-mile loop, he had amassed a huge lead that he was able to maintain to the finish. Husqvarna’s Graham Jarvis finished third overall after a brilliant second loop, and factory KTM rider Taylor Robert took second after finishing with the quickest time during the first loop in the morning. Webb completed the 63.56-mile course with a total time of 2 hours, 38 minutes and 1 second, averaging 24.11 mph.
If that sounds slow, then consider that the King of the Motos is such an incredibly brutal event that only the most technically proficient off-road riders survive the entire distance, and fewer still manage to thrive. This year’s event was tough on the field, claiming 58 of the event’s 83 starters; only 25 made it all way to the finish. But Webb was still the man.
“The start couldn’t have been any better,” Webb said. “It was actually what I planned. I knew I had to get out front as soon as possible and have no traffic, and then I’d be able to lead right off the bat. It worked to my advantage.”
Webb was able to put the same talent that earned him the 2010 AMA National Trials Championship to good use on the extremely jagged and challenging canyon sections that make the race such a test of endurance despite its short distance. He rallied through places such as Sledgehammer, Jackhammer and Wrecking Ball.
Webb faced stiff competition from a who’s-who of American off-road racing, including a number of talented factory KTM stars including reigning AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country Champion Kailub Russell and Taylor Robert, the top-finishing American at the 2013 International Six Days Enduro. And then there were trials riders and endurocross riders with skillsets similar to Webb’s. One of these was England’s Graham Jarvis, who won this event two years ago in 2012, and he would prove to be a worthy competitor again this year.
But there was still Robert to worry about. The new factory KTM rider and third-place finisher at the 2013 KoM has plenty of high-speed desert experience, having contested the SCORE Baja events as well as the ISDE. He hadn’t let a disappointing seventh-place qualifying run derail him, and he was determined to stop Webb.
“I started on the fourth row because I had a little mishap in qualifying yesterday, which I was bummed because I had the qualifying course dialed and I think I should have qualified first,” Robert said. “But I wrecked in the qualifier, and then I just went out there and all I wanted to do was get up that first canyon clean because I knew after that it would be kind of faster and then there’s a couple of single-track sections. So I got up the first canyon clean, and I think I got past two guys before I got to the top of that and then there’s a dry lakebed followed by a long, like looped-out two-track road. I couldn’t feel my hands until like 30 minutes into the race. By the end of that fast section I was in second physically, and I could see Cody, so I knew I was on adjusted time I was already in the lead. I kept charging through everything. It got tighter. It was a bunch of technical, rocky single-track stuff and I kept pushing and eventually I caught up to Cody and passed him in the second fast section, and then he followed me until we got to the last downhill that was probably one of the gnarlier downhills out here, and we were both pushing really hard coming down that thing because we both wanted to physically be in the lead. He got me there at the end and got about 10 seconds on me by the time we got to the bottom, and then there was a little more two-track left, and I pushed as hard as I could and finished a few seconds behind him.”