Coverage: BITD Laughlin U.S. Hare Scrambles Championship Team Race

Feb. 24, 2014 By Mark Kariya
David Pearson keeps a close eye on the trail since the last thing he wants is to brush one of those cholla cactus balls. He partnered with Matt Gosnell for the win, making it two for two so far in BITD.

A Pearson once again proved that they’re nearly unbeatable at Laughlin when David and teammate Matt Gosnell erased enough of their starting-time deficit to win the GPR Stabilizers Laughlin U.S. Hare Scrambles Championship Team Race, round two of Best in the Desert’s American Off-Road Racing Series.

They were third off the line and, thus, two minutes back of fellow THR Motorsports Kawasaki riders Ryan Abbatoye and Ricky Brabec but moved into second place physically early on. With the momentum they had, it was no surprise that they ended up ahead on adjusted time after they’d reached the finish line in the rolling hills west of Laughlin, Nevada, completing three laps around the 37-mile-long figure-eight in three hours, 32 minutes and 43 seconds. Abbatoye and Brabec were first to the checkered flag, but it took them 91 seconds longer to get there--3:25:14--after physically leading the pack all morning.

The Purvines Racing Beta pair of Nick Burson and Axel Pearson started second and unofficially led in the early miles but were slowed by a damaged brake and settled for third in 3:28:36.

Ricky Brabec drew the first starting position. He and teammate Ryan Abbatoye kept their bike in front physically the whole way, but on adjusted time, they came up short and settled for second overall.

“It definitely was hard to lead,” Abbatoye admitted. “I think I blew every corner that was out there. I haven’t ridden desert in a while and I’m a little rusty. I just had fun today and tried to help Ricky get some points.”

And second-place will come in handy as Brabec tries to defend the championship he won last year with Robby Bell, especially considering their DNF at the season-opening Parker 250 when a rock cracked the engine case on their KX450F. Bell, by the way, was unavailable for the race due to a leg and knee injury sustained when another rider landed on him off a jump during the weekly Thursday practice at Glen Helen’s MX track. Bell had stopped to assist a fallen rider when he was struck and hopes to be back in the saddle soon.

But Parker winner Pearson also had a new teammate after cousin Tuffy Pearson left for his two-year-long church mission on Wednesday. Still, Gosnell proved to be an able replacement.

“We came off the first loop basically all the same; we were all within 10 seconds of being a minute away from each other, still about the same as where we started,” Pearson said. “Matt rode really good on his loop; he brought the bike in and we were leading on adjusted time. He brought the bike in about 60 seconds behind the Beta and about a minute and 30 seconds behind the Kawi, behind N1.

“So then I hopped on and I rode really good. I was able to pass Axel. I brought the bike back in only a minute behind Brabec, which meant we were a minute ahead on adjusted time because we started two minutes behind them.”

Laughlin veteran and former winner Ty Davis once again proved capable of good speed on the technical course, teaming with Kellon Walch to dominate Over 30 Pro and earn fourth overall.

That sealed it and the eventual winners rode secure in the knowledge that they didn’t have to physically catch and pass Abbatoye and Brabec, who noted, “The first loop [I rode], I was blowing corners left and right. The second loop went better. The third loop, finally everything was marked up, everything was burned in and it was good.”

Burson shared what went wrong with their race: “Axel put in a good [loop] and gave me the bike. I just kept riding, trying to catch Ryan’s dust. Right towards the end I started catching him and I got pretty close, but then I swapped and I tagged a rock and it loosened the banjo bolt on the [rear] brakes, and I didn’t know what was wrong so I pumped all the fluid out. We tightened it and hoped that it would pump back up, but it didn’t on Axel’s loop so he rode the whole second loop with no [rear] brakes.”

After partner Nic Garvin crashed and hurt himself during the first loop, Ryan Smith took the reins and rode the remaining five loops to win 250cc Pro for the second year in a row, this time finishing fifth overall.

Once back to the pit, the Purvines crew quickly switched the entire rear-brake system out, giving the team a fully functioning bike once more, but they still lost several minutes and couldn’t make it all up.

Ty Davis has great memories of Laughlin, being a former winner and all, and he returned once again with another blast from the past in Kellon Walch. The pair dominated Over 30 Pro on their Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna and earned fourth overall with a time of 3:38:32. The only complaint either had was being woefully out of shape since they no longer race or ride as much as they used to.
Ryan Smith continued to crush the competition in 250cc Pro. Last year’s class winner teamed up this time with Nic Garvin. Unfortunately for Garvin, a heavy crash left him with a suspected broken collarbone and a possible mild concussion, though he was able to complete his loop and hand the not-too-battered First Mortgage Corporation YZ250 to Smith who soloed the rest of the way. “I was having a lot of fun so I kind of didn’t use a whole lot of energy,” Smith said. They were credited with fifth overall at 3:41:15.

Nick and Stephen Tichenor teamed up for the Open Expert win and 10th overall, making them the first Experts to finish in a very crowded class.

Open Pros Evan Kelly/Justin Morgan, Jordan Kundert/Blake Stouard and Jesse Canepa/Matt Canepa filled the next three overall spots, with 250cc Pro runners-up Kris Nelson/Mason Partain and Open Expert winners Nick Tichenor/Stephen Tichenor rounding out the top 10.

Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Newton came through a large pack of Ironman Experts to top that class, beating the runner-up and defending class champ by 80 seconds.

1. Matt Gosnell/David Pearson (Kawasaki KX450F)
2. Ryan Abbatoye/Ricky Brabec (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Nick Burson/Axel Pearson (Beta 498 RR)
4. Ty Davis/Kellon Walch (Husqvarna FC 450)
5. Nic Garvin/Ryan Smith (Yamaha YZ250)
6. Evan Kelly/Justin Morgan (Husqvarna FC 450)
7. Jordan Kundert/Blake Stouard (Honda CRF450R)
8. Jesse Canepa/Matt Canepa (KTM 350 XC-F)
9. Kris Nelson/Mason Partain (KTM 250 XC)
10. Nick Tichenor/Stephen Tichenor (KTM 450 XC-F)

Maggie Pearson was another one of the Pearson clan to do well at Laughlin, teaming up with Vernon Zerkle to win 250cc Expert and finish 12th overall, the second Expert team in the field. Newsletter
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