Kendall Norman Wins Hare & Hound Round 2, Caselli Stays Close
Red Bull’s Kendall Norman backed up his round-one triumph by successfully fighting off FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team’s Kurt Caselli the entire way to win round two of the AMA Racing/FMF/GPR National Hare & Hound Championship Series.
Unlike round one, the Four Aces Motorcycle Club’s 63rd Annual Moose Run at the Spangler Hills Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside of Ridgecrest, California, employed the usual two loops, and lack of rain meant dust would make visibility a challenge.
“I know what it’s like to be in second and the dust is hard to deal with,” Norman noted. “It’s definitely harder to ride your own race when you’re in the dust, but at the same time, too, you really have to pay attention to follow the course.
“He was there [behind me] and honestly, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. Halfway through the first loop, my valves started going out and the bike was backfiring and I stalled it in the pits and almost lost the [lead]. Then I stalled it on a downhill, but good thing it was steep enough where I could get it bump-started again.
“Man, I’m just stoked to be here!”
Caselli reported, “It was a short start--I was on the right [side of the starting line] and he was on the left, and he just barely edged me out at the end. I think that was kind of it--I just ended up staying behind him the whole race.
“There wasn’t much I could do. I tried to catch him here and there, but unless he was going to make a mistake, I wasn’t going to get by him. It was a little dusty, but he rode really well. He earned that race, and that’s just how it goes.”
Off-Road Support Kawasaki’s Jacob Argubright had a good start and ran third in the early miles, but it just wasn’t his day and he drifted back in the pack, eventually finishing sixth.
Conversely, Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson suffered a poor start, running 11th at the first check less than 10 miles into the race. Despite the dust, he used his familiarity with the area to make passes, eventually working his way all the way to third place.
“I do feel comfortable here,” he conceded. “It’s easier for me to hang it out a little bit, but--I don’t know--everything kind of clicked today except my start.”
He did his passing on the first loop of 45 fast miles, saying, “I just kind of rode by myself the whole second loop, and it kind of felt easy, almost, which is good, I guess. I felt really good on the bike.”
Johnny Campbell Racing Honda-supported David Kamo didn’t quite match his runner-up finish at round one, but he was satisfied with fourth, especially considering that he crashed twice at speed on the bomb here last year and DNFed. He played it cagey, saying, “I just stayed behind [a few guys], tried to keep them in sight and went for the kill on the second loop.”
Purvines Racing Beta’s T.J. Hannafin proved he can ride well outside of Utah by finishing fifth for the second time followed by Argubright, Purvines Racing Beta’s Justin Morrow, KTM-mounted Brady Elton, Vet A winner Morgan Crawford and Open A winner Tuffy Pearson on the Wester Designs Racing TM.
Despite his two wins in a row, Norman still has no firm plans in place for the series: “I don’t know. I’m just taking it round by round at the moment. I did the first one and had such a good time--it was one of the best desert races I’ve ever raced. This one was fun, but it was hard. It was a challenging fun because of the pressure Kurt put on me all day; that made it fun, just a good time.”
He added, “If I got paid by the hour, my overtime would be through the roof, working on the bike and all that! Hopefully I’ll be able to make [it to] some more. We’ll see.”
1. Kendall Norman (Honda CRF450X)
2. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 XC-F)
3. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
4. David Kamo (Honda CRF450X)
5. T.J. Hannfin (Beta 498 RR)
6. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
7. Justin Morrow (Beta 498 RR)
8. Brady Elton (KTM)
9. Morgan Crawford (KTM 250 XC)
10. Tuffy Pearson (TM 300 MX)