Jarvis Wins King of the Motos - Video
The King of the Hammers is known as being a true hard-core off-road race pitting man and machine against everything Johnson Valley can produce in terms of gnarly terrain. It’s with this same sentiment that Dirt Rider editor Jimmy Lewis and King of the Hammer’s very own Dave Cole conjured up the first-ever King of the Motos race.
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This invite-only race gathered nearly 20 of the best off-road racers to test out the event (consider them moto space monkeys), which was something of a desert race meets trials competition. Lewis said leading up to the race that it would challenge racers and their machines, noting, “It is literally a motorcycle survival race.”
There were quite a few unique ground rules to this race, as it is truly intended to award the toughest, most well rounded racer. There was no pre-running the course, as racers literally received a map a little more than an hour before the start of the race. GPS units were mounted to their bikes, and they couldn’t deviate more than 50 feet off course or they’d be disqualified. Racers also couldn’t receive any outside help, be it a support crew or spectator – if they did, disqualification. They also had to fill their own bikes at pit stops. It was a brutal 79-mile course blending high-speed desert sections with heavy-duty rock-crawl sections.
Although it was his first true desert race in Southern California, English enduro racer Graham Jarvis earned the victory and the big payday aboard his Husaberg.
“I knew it was going to be fast, because that’s what I was told before but it was still a shock to me because I’ve never ridden anything like this,” Jarvis said at the finish line. “So it took a bit of adjusting, and riders were faster than me early on, but I knew it was going to be a long race so I just paced myself and waited for the rocky sections to make up time.
“I just tried not to crash and not make many mistakes. I do enjoy the desert racing but at the end of the day I think I’d be struggling to keep up with these boys in the desert stuff. Next year I’ll give it a go and we’ll see if the event keeps growing. I’m sure some riders from all over the world will come here to try it.”
Finishing just behind him in second place aboard another Husaberg was Kyle Redmond, who actually entered the final fuel stop at pit five just ahead of Jarvis but had to fiddle with his GPS that wasn’t responding and got him mixed up toward the end of the race.
“I thought it was a really good event for the first year. It was really cool. I liked the mixture,” he said “I actually was making up time in the fast stuff, so I was happy to see that. I was doing ok in the rocks. I mean, Graham is really good in the rocks so he passed me in Jackhammer.
“I had a little GPS breakage so I got kind of lost at the end; I think if that hadn’t happened I could’ve gotten the win, but whatever … next year.”
Like the early King of the Hammers races, Redmond will be able to take what he’s learned from this year’s race.
“I think I’ll know how to setup my suspension so I can go faster in the fast sections, like the whoops, just because I know what to expect now.”
Destry Abbott earned the final podium spot at the 2012 King of the Motos, though he did have to overcome a few snags, with one being when he crashed on the first hill climb right off the start.
“I thought I had it figured out,” he said of his line off the start. “I was like the first one and Cody Webb was right next to me and I got on my line and there was a rock ledge I tried to jump on but I cased it, caught it a little short, and I just fell back and I think I was 10th to 12th going over at the top and I slammed into a rock with my shifter on my foot peg, so at the bottom of the hill I grabbed a hammer and hammered it back into the rocks.
“But it was a good race. I definitely had some issues here and there, but … I’m happy, you know, it was a good time. It was extremely tough. Jimmy Lewis and all those guys did a great job. King of the Motos is a true tough race. For my first time getting on the podium it’s pretty cool, so I’m happy.
Kurt Caselli was the first bike up the first hill climb, making the rough start look easy aboard his KTM. Despite this knowledge of the area, the tough course still took its toll.
“I got a good start, got out front. It’s pretty much just like a desert race. I’m used to riding out here in the National Hare & Hounds in the same stuff just a little more difficult,” Caselli said. “I crashed in one of the first downhills, you know, 10-12 miles in and broke my GPS, cracked it, so that kind of threw a wrench in the whole program but I got going fine and was able to still follow the marked trail.”
Although Caselli was able to move back into second place near the halfway mark, the course was beginning to take its toll on his bike, especially his clutch.
“The course was tough on the bike, so nothing was wrong with the clutch I just was abusing it a little bit and it got hot and the bike just overheated.
Although Caselli was unable to finish the King of the Motos, he echoed the sentiments of most every racer we ran into after the event.
“It was cool, and Jimmy Lewis did a really good job. Hopefully they have it next year and we’ll come back a little more prepared.”