Irvine, Calif. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert headed deep into the thick forests of Washougal, Wash., for Round 7 of the World Off Road Championship Series and finished third overall after going 4-3 on the weekend. All season the off-road team had been looking forward to the race at Washougal MX Park with its beautiful scenery, nice weather, and challenging off-road elements. Once the gate dropped, they found the course much more challenging with heavy silt and blinding dust quickly enveloping the tight, mountainous course. Justin Soule’ rode solid both days to finish 5-4 and took fifth overall. Destry Abbott, fresh off the plane from the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Finland, maintained a fast pace to finish eighth overall after going 8-8 on the weekend.
Getting the Jump
After the track walk, Robert knew the key to winning at Washougal was getting good starts. With the track loaded with silt, whoever got out front early would have a clear track and the clear advantage. Robert got good starts both days, but was not able to get to the front of the pack. He maintained a fast pace despite near zero visibility and battled his way to a third-place finish.
“The track was really dusty and very one-lined,” said Robert. “The key to winning up here is getting the holeshot, so you could get in front of the dust and get into a groove. On Friday I got a good start, my KX™450F launched out of the gate, but my wheel spun a little because I was too far forward and I got pinched off going around the first turn and ended up around sixth. I was able to get around a couple guys on the first lap and moved into fourth. I tried to push past (Mike) Brown several times, but just couldn’t see at all and ended up making a mistake and clipping a tree. It was hard to make up time after falling behind because once you got close to someone you couldn’t see anything unless you were right on their back tire. On Saturday, I got a decent start and by the end of the moto portion of the track I was in fourth. I eventually got around Brown and ended up finishing in third. I went 4-3 for the weekend which wasn’t bad, but it could have gone better. I just have to go back down to the southwest and finish strong in the last three rounds of the WORCS season.”
Eye On the Prize
Soule’ is a serious competitor whose impressive speed and ability make him a threat anywhere he lines up. Although he got a good jump off the gate both days, he found himself continuously getting knocked off his line by competitors. With his sights set on the EnduroCross championship, as well as three more rounds of WORCS, Soule’ rode smart all weekend to finish healthy and in the top five.
“My KX450F felt really good and had plenty of power, but I needed to ride more aggressive and not get pushed around so much,” said Soule’. “On Friday, I got a pretty good start, but I wasn’t aggressive enough and ended up in second around the first turn. A couple turns later I got pushed to the outside of a turn and lost a few more positions. When we went into the off road portion of the track I got caught in a bottle neck where a guy crashed right in the middle of the trail, and lost a little more ground. I ended up finishing in fifth, but I really lost it right at the beginning, that first lap was so crucial. On Saturday, I wheelied too much off the gate and got pinched off into seventh going around the first turn. I was able to get a few spots back in the first lap and moved into fifth. After that everyone got pretty spread out and I ended up racing by myself for the rest of the race. I moved up a spot after another rider in front of me dropped out or crashed, so I ended up finishing fourth. I was fifth overall for the weekend, and felt like I rode good, but just got beat straight up. I’m happy that I’m leaving this round healthy and am looking forward to the upcoming EnduroCross event in Indianapolis.”
Picking Them Off
After grabbing a gold medal at the ISDE in Finland, Abbott had barely been back in the US for three days before lining up in Washougal. Because he excels in the more technical off-road type of courses, Abbott was looking forward to racing through this technical course which wraps through the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Although he didn’t get the best starts, Abbott maintained a fast pace and blasted through the near zero visibility to finish eighth overall.
“I really like this course because you have to be patient, pick good lines, and stand up a lot,” said Abbott. “The only downfall is that it was really hard to pass because it was so tight. I didn’t get good starts this weekend, but I think if I would’ve had a clear track I had the speed to finish in the top-five. I literally passed around fifteen people this weekend and only got passed a couple times. Friday didn’t go very well for me. I spun really bad off the gate, and was in dead last coming around the first turn. I tried to make passes in the motocross portion of the track because once we got into the off-road portion it was literally single file with people stopped in the middle of the track because of the limited visibility. I just kept picking guys off and by the fourth lap I moved into seventh and kept trying to get around (Gary) Sutherlin. I felt like I was riding fast and kept reeling him in, but with three laps left I crashed pretty hard, lost a spot, and ended up finishing in eighth. On Saturday, I got another bad start, and ended up at the back of the pack. This is a tough track to come from behind, but I was able to work my way up to seventh before the finish. I’m pretty disappointed that I finished eighth overall. Honestly, I thought I was going to do better than what I did, but all I did was work from the back every single race. Overall I really like this track and especially enjoyed all the fans that came out to cheer us on in the woods. For me the last four weeks have been wide-open with the X Games, ISDE, and WORCS, so I’m looking forward to a few weeks off with my family before the EnduroCross event in Ontario.”
With seven of the 10 round WORCS season already in the books, the KX450F has proven to be the most consistent bike on the circuit. With a top tier contingency payout program, unparalleled trackside support, and a machine that’s proven itself from Supercross to the ISDE, its no wonder 80 percent of the top-10 riders in the WORCS series were riding Kawasaki KX450Fs.
Headed to the Crossroads of America
Next week the Monster Energy Kawasaki off-road team heads to Indianapolis, Ind., for Round 3 of the AMA EnduroCross series at Pepsi Coliseum. Currently tied for third in points, Soule’ will be working hard to grab another podium and move up the leaderboard. Robert will also be looking to grab his first EnduroCross podium and move into the top ten in points. Abbott will be taking the weekend off, after four weeks of non-stop action, but will reconvene with the team in three weeks for Round 4 of the EnduroCross series in Ontario, Calif.