Caselli and Ramirez Go 1-2 at AMA Hare & Hound
The AMA Racing/FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series hit the halfway mark with a somewhat depleted field showing up for the 27th Annual Virgin Voyage, put on by the Vikings Motorcycle Club at the North Anderson Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area. Injuries claimed a number of victims at round four and the two weeks between rounds wasn’t enough to recover. Among those on the sidelines were T.J. Hannifin, Skyler Howes, David Kamo, Justin Morrow and Tuffy Pearson (not injured, but he’d undergone wisdom teeth removal on Saturday).
So, the pits were a little less crowded, but out on the three-loop course that the Vikings designed, the racing was just as entertaining.
It was no big surprise that Kurt Caselli took the win, but for the first time ever, FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team teammate Ivan Ramirez demonstrated he could be a player north of the border, holding second from start to finish to make a little history with their 1-2 result. Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson overcame several hard crashes to claim third for the second consecutive round.
As he’s done so many times, Caselli led at the bomb, but this time his closest pursuer was his new housemate/training partner/teammate Ramirez. In fact, Ramirez stuck close to Caselli through the 42-mile first loop, with Caselli opening it up after that.
“That first loop was rough, actually. It was a lot of cross-grain stuff and pretty choppy so it’s tough--you never really know what the club’s going to do with the second and third loops,” Caselli noted. “Sometimes they’re really tough, sometimes they’re not too bad.
“I just tried to pace myself at the beginning and I looked back a few times and saw Ivan. That’s motivating for me as well. We’ve been working together; he’s moved into my house. We’ve kind of teamed up trying to get him going so we can really get after this Baja program. When I look back and see him, I get excited, too.
“After the first loop, I think I pulled a little bit on them through the tighter stuff on the second loop.
“I’m just happy that we got a 1-2 finish. I’ve really been wanting that for a long time and he’s completely capable.”
Ramirez said, “That was good guidance for sure if you stay with him. I was just trying to ride with him and he pushed me away from everybody else. After that I just kind of rode; I was tired, for sure! It kind of reminded me a little bit of training and trail riding together, and you feel more confident.”
For Burson, it seemed to be an up-and-down day that ended up going his way. “I finally got a good start!” he exclaimed.
But his situation quickly went south when eventual Senior A winner Paul Krause went past him. “I just took some chances I shouldn’t have in his dust and moved out,” he confessed. Burson hit a double washout, crashed and got up quickly with a few parts of his bike missing or bent, but he got going and repassed Krause as well as Off-Road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valley’s Jacob Argubright, who lost a lot of time with a dead bike he would later guess was due to a small crash damaging his bike’s black box.
Later on the first loop, he tagged a rock at speed which bent his bike farther. Even after trying to straighten the front end, it would continue to haunt him and he high-sided on the second loop, landing on his back which knocked the wind out of him.
“I just kind of struggled all day in the rocks--the front end was tweaked; I was all over the place. I got third; I’m surprised!”
Wilson’s Motorcycles KTM’s Morgan Crawford also found himself among the front-runners, but a couple of crashes on the final loop left him drained so he couldn’t respond when Agent Orange Racing KTM’s Irving Powers challenged him for fourth. Powers would end up with a back-to-back fourth, as it matched his finish at the Virginia City Grand Prix the previous day. Crawford held on for fifth overall--his best finish since 2010--and his second Vet A win of the season.
Argubright finally got his bike fixed and came from far back to sixth followed by Vet A runner-up Dan Capparelli, Krause (who was third after the bomb), and 250cc A riders Nic Garvin and Cordis Brooks (separated by just four seconds with Garvin battling back after running out of fuel on the first loop).
1. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 XC-F)
2. Ivan Ramirez (KTM 450 XC-F)
3. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
4. Irving Powers (KTM 450 XC-F)
5. Morgan Crawford (KTM 250 XC)
6. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
7. Dan Capparelli (Beta 498 RR)
8. Paul Krause (KTM 350 XC-F)
9. Nic Garvin (KTM 250 XC)
10. Cordis Brooks (KTM 250 XC)