Caselli Cruises to Fourth Straight Hare & Hound Victory
Kurt Caselli of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team dominated the Vikings Motorcycle Club’s annual Virgin Voyage, round four of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series. The defending series champ thus stretched his series win streak to four in a row, adding another five points over THR Motorsports’ David Pearson, who was second for the third time this year. Purvines Racing/Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Jacob Argubright rounded out the top three.
Previous 2012 AMA Hare and Hound Races:
The Virgin Voyage threw heat at the field for the first time this year, with temperatures at the finish in the high 90s or low 100s (depending on whose thermometer you consulted), guaranteeing a tougher workout than at the previous three rounds. As usual, the Vikings M.C. laid out a two-loop course in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside of Lucerne Valley, California, that featured a little of everything. Nicole Bradford, the Women’s A/B winner for the fourth time in a row, joked that she needed only two gears: sixth for the first loop and first for the second.
A long, uphill bomb run saw Caselli break away from the pack, and that was the closest anyone would get to him the rest of the day. After blitzing the first few miles to establish a lead, he simply kept adding to it, eventually winning by almost five minutes.
With just four of the 10 rounds in the books, Caselli has clearly established himself as the favorite for the championship, and this has allowed him the luxury of using the Hare & Hounds to get in some race-testing as the team attempts to wrest the SCORE title away from perennial winners Honda.
“The bike that I was riding today was actually almost like a replica of [our] Baja bike so it’s perfect for these races to do testing for Baja,” he said. “This bike is actually running a lot better than the last few rounds so I’m excited about that.
“This is still a 450 SX-F--carbureted--[but] it’s just got similar cam, piston, crank, everything is the same as the Baja bike (which is a clone of the works 450 Rally motor). It’s solid. This bike, I feel like I was kind of like trail riding today.”
Conversely, his competitors had to work hard as they scrapped for position. Purvines Racing Kawasaki’s Justin Morrow had a great first loop, settling into second place and feeling comfortable there. But on loop two, he hit something that wrapped his shift lever into a pretzel and he crashed later to finish just off the box in fourth.
Pearson got a solid third-place start and chased Morrow until the shifter incident, moving into second place for good but unable to reel in Caselli. Getting stuck near the end didn’t help his cause, though. “[About] 15 miles before the finish I was going up this waterfall [section] and my bike tipped over, then my bike was stuck, I had to lift it out of there--after that it was just survival mode; I was so beat after that,” he admitted.
Argubright, who started the year by crashing and breaking a collarbone, appears to be back up to speed with his third-place finish. “I had a decent start, but it was just so dusty,” he said. “Kurt helped me out and gave me some good advice. I just waited until the second loop to where it got a little rockier where I knew I could do good, and I just pushed the whole way.”
Morrow claimed fourth, less than a minute ahead of Purvines Racing Kawasaki teammate Nick Burson while Johnny Campbell Racing Honda’s Colton Udall fought through the dust for sixth.
Skyler Howes took the 250cc A win, finishing seventh overall, some three and a half minutes ahead of class runner-up and eighth overall Axel Pearson of the Purvines Racing Kawasaki squad. KTM-mounted Ryan Kudla and Dave Dunachek on a Kawasaki rounded out the top 10 overall.
1. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 SX-F)
2. David Pearson (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
4. Justin Morrow (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. Nicholas Burson (Kawasaki KX450F)
6. Colton Udall (Honda CRF450X)
7. Skyler Howes (Yamaha YZ250)
8. Axel Pearson (Kawasaki KX250F)
9. Ryan Kudla (KTM 300 XC)
10. Dave Dunachek (Kawasaki KX450F)
Previous 2012 AMA Hare and Hound Races: