That gave Robert the first pick for the land-rush start that would separate the men from the boys on the second loop. He knew it would be tough to dethrone Webb.
“I’ve been practicing a lot and I’ve been riding a lot of trials and technical stuff, but Cody’s still the man when it comes to that stuff in the United States, so I’m going to try and give him a run for his money,” Robert said.
Then Webb got his awesome start and left Robert and the rest of the field in his wake.
“I just rode smart,” Webb said. “I got to the gas stop, and then it loops around to the gas again. I had prerun all that, and I was on the gas there. I pitted, and I lost some time there near the end by getting lost. Then I got a flat tire, but I had ridden so perfectly to that point that I built up such a lead. I only had one major mistake out there.”
The battle for the remaining podium positions was a three-rider battle that featured four riders, including Robert, KTM-mounted Kyle Redmond and Johnny Campbell Racing’s Colton Haaker, who was already disqualified from the race after missing a check during the morning loop. Robert was able to hold down second place at the finish.
“That start was kind of a cluster,” Robert said. “I came out like fifth or sixth—not as good as I wanted to be. I was trying to keep Cody in my sights for a little bit, but I never even saw him the whole race. Hopefully next year I can get up there on the start and just do my thing and challenge him for the win next year. But the race was good.”
Jarvis, who finished fourth in the 1999 FIM World Trials Championship Series, managed to whittle down a five-minute deficit to Webb and salvage a third-place finish.
“I’m in the autumn of my career,” Jarvis had joked before the start of the race. Afterward, he was less grateful that he had the podium than he was disappointed that the race was “too easy.”
“I was in the group with Taylor and Kyle Redmond and Colton Haaker,” Jarvis said. “That ends up slowing you up a bit, to be honest with you, because sometimes they get stuck in front of you. But it was good to ride with them. It was more interesting. The start was confusing, and it cost me a minute or so, but I don’t think it would have made a difference in the results. Nobody was getting really stuck out there. I told [race organizer] Jimmy Lewis he has got to make it harder next year. I’ll only come back if he makes it harder.”
Of course, no King of the Motos would be complete without interesting stories, such as New Jersey rider Wally Palmer who was last off the starting line to start the second loop but found the fast lane up Chocolate Thunder and passed approximately 40 riders before reaching the top then rode the desert section like a veteran to post a 16th-place finish. Not bad for a 28-year-old-kid from New Jersey who was clearly out of his comfort zone at King of the Motos.
“For the last 8 years I’ve done endurocross,” Palmer said. “I’ve never been to a desert race.”
Like the rock crawlers that would be attacking many of the same sections during the King of the Hammers event later in the week, Palmer’s Christini motorcycle, which uses a Gas Gas engine in a Honda chassis, is all-wheel-drive. That certainly helped him in the tight going, although he admitted that the high speeds in the transfer sections were not his cup of tea.
“It worked really good,” Palmer said of the bike. “I busted a water pump right off the start, and the bike locked up. So, I let it cool down, I fixed it, and it actually broke loose and started running again. At the start of the second loop I didn’t understand what the starter was supposed to do, so I started last. I think I was maybe up to eighth. I came through the first check in 10th. It was a little sketchy running it wide open. I was tapped.”
The McGuyver story of the race has to go to Sherco rider Cory Graffunder, who lost his Husqvarna factory ride in the wake of the company’s realignment of its North American factory racing effort for 2014. Graffunder took possession of a new Sherco 300cc four-stroke the week before King of the Motos, and the Canadian-turned-Californian was competitive on the machine until a late-race mechanical issue nearly caused him his third DNF in as many years.
“Everything was good,” Graffunder said. “I had a good start [in the second loop], and Graham [Jarvis] passed me, and I was just riding my own race and see how far up I could finish. I made it through all the hard sections fine, and I was coming up the last canyon, and the bike was hot. Across the dry lakebed after that, I looked down and oil was just everywhere. I saw that this piece [of the cam cover] had melted or come out. I thought I was done, but I looked around and found a rock.”
Using a stick of JB Weld, Graffunder “grafted” the rock to the cam cover, and he was able get the machine refired and nurse it to a 16th-place finish.
“It probably took me an hour to figure it out,” Graffunder said. “I couldn’t even use the electric start, so I had to bump-start the bike to get it going again.”
Check back with Off-Road.com for more on all of the happenings at the 2014 King of the Hammers, and be sure to check out our coverage page.
2014 King of the Motos, presented by Trail Tech
Johnson Valley OHV
Johnson Valley, CA
February 2, 2014
Results: First Loop – Second Loop – Final
1. Cody Webb 57:35 – 1:40:26 – 2:38:01
2. Taylor Robert 56:08 – 1:44:11 – 2:40:19
3. Graham Jarvis 1:02:43 – 1:44:36 – 2:47:19
4. Kyle Redmond 1:02:17 – 1:49:02 – 2:51:19
5. Noah Kepple 1:07:42 – 2:23:10 – 3:30:52
6. Mitch Carvolth 1:15:28 – 2:29:11 – 3:44:39
7. Kale Elworthy 1:13:03 – 2:44:19 – 3:57:12
8. Ty Tremaine 1:11:38 – 2:46:22 – 3:58:00
9. Travis Coy 1:10:42 – 2:47:34 – 3:58:16
10. Peter Weiss 1:18:47 – 2:48:10 – 4:06:57
11. Justin Morgan 1:15:25 – 2:54:18 – 4:09:43
12. Don Boesplfug 1:10:17 – 3:01:19 – 4:11:36
13. Mike Aranda 1:20:54 – 3:09:14 – 4:30:08
14. Wally Palmer 1:25:17 – 3:13:42 – 4:38:59
15. Quinn Wentzel 1:20:07 – 3:13:46 – 4:33:53
16. Cory Graffunder 1:05:44 – 3:15:47 – 4:21:31
17. Rory Sullivan 1:12:51 3:28:26 – 4:41:17
18. Jason Matheney 1:15:10 – 3:35:57 – 4:51:07
19. Brady Elton 1:20:44 – 3:47:53 – 5:08:37
20. Michael Allen 1:30:14 – 3:49:41 – 5:19:55
21. Joseph Edsman 1:32:07 – 3:52:38 – 5:24:45
22. Erin James 1:42:46 – 4:08:00 – 5:50 46
23. Brad Hendry 1:30:01 – 4:26:18 – 5:56:19
24. Michael Salsman 1:52:32 – 4:33:52 – 6:26:24
25. Steven Foord 1:52:32 – 4:33:52 – 6:26:24