Caselli Earns AMA Hare & Hound National Championship
“I think the club did an awesome job and this is the perfect way to end the [Hare & Hound season] for me—the championship, a KTM podium sweep—so I can look forward to going to the Morocco rally which is the same time as the last Hare & Hound,” Kurt Caselli proclaimed.
The FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team star continued, “That was my incentive for this weekend: If I could get the championship here, I was able to go to that rally to get ready for Dakar, so I’m happy it all worked out.”
And so Caselli’s career in the AMA Racing/FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series came to a victorious end, leading a KTM sweep of the podium at the Muley Run presented by the Silver State Trailblazers, round nine in the 10-race series. Former teammate David Pearson rode one of Caselli’s old bikes (which now belongs to Bonanza Plumbing’s Dean Potts) to second while current teammate Ivan Ramirez finished third.
The race belonged to Caselli from the start, as he jetted off the line at the drop of the banner and motored up the first hill with a convincing lead, leaving the rest of the field in his dust—or mud, depending on which part of the 103-mile course they were on. Though dry and dusty in the morning for the kid’s races around the Lincoln County Fairgrounds area, rain started falling just before the big bike start at 11:00 and really dumped just as the majority of the pack reach the first hill.
Silty dust quickly turned rain-drenched goggles useless for many; even Pearson had to ditch his a few miles into the race while running second. A number of racers got stuck on the first hill and required more than one attempt before successfully topping what was normally an easy climb.
Out front, Caselli concentrated on staying sharp and riding smart, taking no unnecessary risks yet still outpacing the competition. Pearson—in his first National of the year and aboard the 2011 450 SX-F instead of the KX450F he’s been racing in Best in the Desert and SCORE the past two years—ably demonstrated he’s lost none of his Hare & Hound speed, especially with the race being in his backyard.
Ramirez had second place briefly but lost it to Pearson as they powered up the first hill after the bomb, Pearson’s far outside line allowing him to carry far more speed as they crested the hill.
After that, Ramirez had to fight off a determined Jacob Argubright, the Kawasaki of Simi Valley/Off-Road Support hounding him to the finish and coming up just short to claim fourth on the heels of his round eight triumph.
Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson put in a solid ride to fifth followed by teammate Axel Pearson, Blais Racing Services KTM’s Skyler Howes, Purvines riders T.J. Hannifin and Justin Morrow, then first Expert overall and first 250cc A Reece Honea.
1. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 XC-F)
2. David Pearson (KTM 450 SX-F)
3. Ivan Ramirez (KTM 450 XC-F)
4. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
6. Axel Pearson (Beta 498 RR)
7. Skyler Howes (KTM 300 XC)
8. T.J. Hannifin (Beta 498 RR)
9. Justin Morrow (Beta 498 RR)
10. Reece Honea (Kawasaki KX250F)