BITD THR Motorsports Parker 250

Jan. 14, 2013 By Mark Kariya
Pearson missed a coyote hunting contest in order to race Parker, but winning the race undoubtedly helped make up for that missed opportunity.

Though they drew the fourth starting position and spent most of the day chasing solo racer Ricky Brabec, defending Best in the Desert American Off-Road Racing Series champions Robby Bell and David Pearson finally found their passing opportunity and went on to win the THR Motorsports Parker 250, the opening round of the five-race series. Though he lost his lead after a couple crashes, Brabec held on to second place for the day (and in Open Pro) with Open Expert winners Kyle Hucklebridge and Kurt Sofka, Jr., rounding out the top three overall in a mostly fast, rough race that started in sub-freezing conditions.

“I think the only concern that crept in at the start was if he got into the lead real quick and gapped us, whether we’d be able to run him down,” Bell confided. “Luckily, once I got by the two Betas (TJ Hannifin/Shawn Strong and Nick Burson/Justin Morrow), I’d actually reeled [Brabec] in and we were 20 seconds up on adjusted time.

“Then he pulled me a little bit going to the alternate [pit], but then David had a flyer on his second [stint] and got into the lead.”

Robby Bell (shown) and David Pearson got the new year off in the best way possible, coming from behind to win their first race of the year as they go for another number one plate in BITD.

The THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki-mounted duo thus repeated their 2012 victory at this race, completing the three laps in four hours, 20 minutes and 19 seconds.

Having drawn the second starting position behind only Purvines Racing Beta’s TJ Hannifin, Precision Concepts KX450F-mounted Brabec wasted little time before breaking into clean air by around mile 20.

Privateer Ricky Brabec couldn’t find anyone else who’d split expenses so he soloed the race and led most of it until a couple crashes and fatigue got to him. Still, he ended up second, which might help attract support for the rest of the series.

“That’s what I wanted to do before the alternate pit because after that you get those dirt roads--like 14 miles of dirt road--and it just sucks being behind somebody,” Brabec explained.

So the privateer led the first lap around the 79-mile loop though things took a turn for the worse when he fell coming into the “Parker Python” where the main pit was. Breaking his helmet visor wasn’t a big deal, but moving the handlebar backwards meant extra time in the pit to re-situate it, though he maintained his physical lead.

A former Ironman Expert winner, Parker resident Kyle Hucklebridge teamed with Kurt Sofka, Jr., in Open Expert this time and not only won the class but finished third overall on time.

Going it alone, fatigue took more of a toll on Brabec and he fell again near the end of the second lap, this time forfeiting the physical lead. “I knew it was over right there so I just thought I’d play it safe and get to the finish.” He was just four minutes behind in 4:24:36.

Any anticipated duel between the Kawasaki racers and the Purvines Racing teams making their debuts on Betas disappeared with new-bike teething issues. Nick Burson and Justin Morrow kept it close in third place for the first lap, but the suspension wasn’t fully dialed, and they gradually drifted farther back. Then, before the alternate pit on the final lap, they ran out of fuel. They eventually got more and made it to the pit, but it cost major time and they’d eventually finish fifth in Open Pro and as the 23rd overall motorcycle.

Todd Abratowski (C1) takes his place in pre-dawn staging. A few hours later, he and Chris Mast would give the Purvines Beta Racing team its first win of the year, having triumphed in Over 40 Pro while placing fifth overall. (The Purvines squad would win two other classes--Over 30 Pro and 250cc Pro--in its debut aboard Betas.)

Instead, it was Hucklebridge and Sofka beating all but two of the Pro teams en route to third overall on their MTA Kawasaki, the only other team to finish in less than five hours at 4:58:48.

Hannafin and Strong finished in 5:01:53 for fourth overall, third Open Pro, in both their BITD and Purvines Racing Beta debut, just ahead of fellow Purvines Racing teammates Todd Abratowski and Chris Mast, who won Over 40 Pro in 5:02:07.

Over 30 Pro winners Dennis Belingheri and Dan Capparelli ended up as the sixth bike overall for Purvines Racing Beta in 5:07:49 even after a five-minute penalty for a “deviation from [the] marked course” when they reportedly took a wrong turn going into the Python.

Parker is usually a tough one on the ATVs and UTVs, as evidenced here by one team that was determined to finish no matter what.

Jerry Parsons ended up soloing when his partner, Robert Underwood (who was on an Open Expert team as well), didn’t make it to their hand-off area in time. Despite the unexpectedly long stint in the saddle, the DynoJet Kawasaki racer was able to get his three laps in and earn fourth Open Pro, seventh bike, in 5:11:47.

THR Motorsports Kawasaki’s Justin Harguess and Jason Jacobson took second Open Expert and eighth bike in 5:17:11, 21 seconds ahead of Purvines Racing Beta’s Curtis Bradley and Jeremy Purvines, the 250cc Pro winners. Over 40 Expert winners Shawn Black, Dana Reed and John Volk rounded out the top 10 bikes.

1. Robby Bell/David Pearson (Kawasaki KX450F)
2. Ricky Brabec (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Kyle Hucklebridge/Kurt Sofka, Jr. (Kawasaki KX450F)
4. T.J. Hannafin/Shawn Strong (Beta 450 RR)
5. Todd Abratowski/Chris Mast (Beta 450 RR)
6. Dennis Belingheri/Dan Capparelli (Beta 450 RR)
7. Jerry Parsons (Kawasaki KX450F)
8. Justin Harguess/Jason Jacobson (Kawasaki KX450F)
9. Curtis Bradley/Jeremy Purvines (Beta 250 RR)
10. Shawn Black/Dana Reed/John Volk (Honda) Newsletter
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