Norman Wins, Caselli Seals Series Title at Lucerne Hare & Hound
Though a knee injury earlier this year prevented Kendall Norman from successfully defending his AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship, he’s healed and apparently lost none of his speed or desire. The Johnny Campbell Racing Honda star led from start to finish at round eight of the series, the SoCal Motorcycle Club National at Anderson Dry Lake near Lucerne Valley, California, to notch his second victory of the season and run his record to 1-2-1 in the three races since his return to action.
But Kurt Caselli’s runner-up finish somewhat overshadowed that accomplishment, as the sole FMF/KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team series contender clinched the title for the first time and with one round remaining (duplicating Norman’s feat from last year).
Norman got things off in the best way possible by getting the holeshot on the relatively short, but fast, bomb run, reaching the trail just ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Destry Abbott, Caselli and the rest of the field as they headed out to three loops of challenge totaling 101 miles.
Previous 2011 Hare & Hound Races
The race quickly became a four-man battle with Norman just ahead of Caselli, while third-place Abbott’s hands were full fending off Kawasaki of Simi Valley’s Jacob Argubright. Those four steadily gapped the rest of the field.
“I just rode really consistent and smooth, and just rode my own race,” Norman said. “I knew Kurt was there the whole race and Destry was the same distance behind him; they rode awesome, but it was just kind of one of those things: The guy that doesn’t get lost, the guy that doesn’t crash and that doesn’t have any bike problems, if you can do those things, you’re going to be looking pretty good and that’s how today went.”
He would complete the race in two hours, 40 minutes and 58 seconds, Caselli finishing 27 seconds behind.
“Kendall was riding good,” Caselli said. “I’d catch up to him then he’d pull me a little, I’d catch back up, and we were going back and forth.
“It was kind of relaxed. I told myself a couple times, ‘Okay, you’re doing fine. Just stay here. The championship’s more important [than winning this race].’
“I’m happy to get the championship--not just for myself but for KTM as well,” Caselli said.
The 39-year-old Abbott successfully fought off 20-year-old Argubright to the finish, 2:43:35 to 2:44:31, but it was much closer than that out on much of the course. “Jake rode awesome today,” Abbott shared. “Going out on the third loop, in the valleys he was definitely going faster than I was. All day today, I was off the pace of the top three guys in the valleys, but I felt awesome everywhere else. [Argubright] passed me on the third loop, the 14-mile loop, then in a valley he headed the wrong way for some reason.”
Purvines Racing Honda’s David Pearson had a mathematical chance at taking the championship out of Caselli’s hands and forcing a showdown at the finale, but he had to beat him here. The chances of that happening disappeared at the start with Pearson getting a less-than-ideal one that left him buried in the dust while the top four sped away. By the time he broke out of the dust later in the race, there was no way he’d catch up--especially considering he’d crashed two weeks ago and injured his ankle, preventing him riding since then--though he’s a lock for runner-up in points. “Second’s definitely not first, but we still got second,” he lamented after finishing fifth at the race.
JCR Honda’s Quinn Cody was another who suffered from a bad start that left him fighting dust more than other racers. Due to thunder storms over the summer, he felt anything off the trail was risky: “I got off [the trail] a couple times and I ended up losing positions! It was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to ride in the dust until I get a chance to go by these guys.’ ”
Purvines Racing Honda’s Justin Morrow claimed seventh over JCR Honda’s David Kamo, who needed a radiator replaced at the first pit after a stick speared it. After running a season-best fifth at one point, Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna’s Nick Burson crashed after hitting a road crossing wrong going out on the third loop and limped in ninth, Mexico’s Ivan Ramirez coming from far back to round out the top 10 overall and win Open A.
1. Kendall Norman (Honda CRF450X)
2. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 SX-F)
3. Destry Abbott (Kawasaki KX450F)
4. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
5. David Pearson (Honda CRF450X)
6. Quinn Cody (Honda CRF450X)
7. Justin Morrow (Honda CRF450X)
8. David Kamo (Honda CRF450X)
9. Nicholas Burson (Husqvarna TXC 449)
10. Ivan Ramirez (KTM 450 SX-F)
Previous 2011 Hare & Hound Races