Brabec Earns First National Hare & Hound Win
The way Ricky Brabec’s been riding lately, you knew it was only a matter of time before he picked up his first victory in the AMA/SRT Hare & Hound National Championship Series. Fifth at the opening round, he then got on the podium for the first time with a third place at round two, matching that at round three.
Now, at round four, the THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki rider bypassed second place altogether and jumped all the way to the top, winning the Slim Tesh Memorial Hare & Hound hosted by the So Cal Motorcycle Club after a race-long battle involving him and three others.
Initially, Ivan Ramirez of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team looked like the runner-up, having crossed the finish line a few seconds after Brabec. However, after talking to witnesses, officials penalized him for taking one of the three alternate routes on the 42-mile first loop that was meant for ATVs only. The officials listed him as a DNF, but the FMF/KTM team asked instead for Ramirez to be disqualified, as that would allow them to lodge an appeal with the AMA.
The appeal is expected to be filed later today (Monday, April 14) and would make the results unofficial until a decision is reached.
Most felt that Ramirez hadn’t intended to gain an unfair advantage and that he simply went the wrong way while in front.
Due to high winds blowing course markers away in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside Lucerne Valley, California, following the trail was more difficult than usual, though it did seem to keep the pack closer together. The running order changed regularly as the leader would blow a turn, the next one in line taking a pull up front until he missed a trail.
“The first and second loops, it was me, Jake [Argubright], Ivan and Nick Burson all just back and forth all day,” Brabec said. “It was tough to read the markings because [so many] arrows were blown over.”
That was even a problem farther back in the pack as well according to eventual 200cc A winner Sam Bangert who finished 16th overall.
The race came down to the last half of the 36-mile-long second loop with Brabec noting, “I think it was whoever made a mistake first and that’s what it came down to. Ivan got a little squirrelly in the rocks so I went right past him. I came around a corner maybe a mile later and Jake was picking his bike up.”
That put Brabec in first with a long sprint westward across a valley to the finish, something he felt favored him: “The valleys are definitely my thing. I’m a little bit bigger. I can hold the bike down a little bit more and I like going fast!”
Ramirez chased him to the finish, only to be penalized. So, that moved everyone behind up a spot, pending the expected KTM appeal. Bel-Ray/FMF/Moose Racing Husqvarna factory rider Argubright came in next to match his runner-up performance in Idaho with Purvines Racing Beta’s Burson in third, keeping his streak of podium finishes perfect so far this season, despite losing fourth and fifth gears on the second loop.
“It’s awesome! It definitely boosts my confidence,” Brabec said of his win. “Now I can’t wait for the next one and I know the next one’s out here as well, but the SCORE race is the day before so I’m actually going to shoot just for a podium there. But if I have the chance to pull off another win, I’m going to do it—go for it!”
1. Ricky Brabec (Kawasaki KX450F)
2. Jacob Argubright (Husqvarna FC 450)
3. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
4. Justin Morrow (Beta 498 RR)
5. Max Eddy, Jr. (Honda CRF450X)
6. Brandon Prieto (KTM 450 XC-F)
7. Skyler Howes (KTM 300 XC)
8. Ryan Smith (Yamaha YZ250)
9. Irving Powers (TM 300 EN)
10. Levii Hutchings (TM 300 EN)