Caselli Wins Round 4 of AMA Hare & Hound Series
It was a good day for some and a horrible day for others at the No Bull National hosted by the So Cal Motorcycle Club, round four of the AMA Racing/FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series. Only a few weeks after round three in Idaho, the series returned to the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area near Lucerne Valley, California, and saw two-time and reigning series champion Kurt Caselli click off his second consecutive victory. With previous points leader David Kamo one of those who experienced a horrible day, Caselli also found himself sitting on top of the points chart for the first time this season--a place that’s proven difficult to dislodge him from.
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Constant winds over race weekend made life miserable for spectators, but it helped racers by quickly blowing dust away—as long as they weren’t following someone while turned into it, of course. The So Cal club laid out three loops of 40, 40 and 17 miles based out of the main pit area at North Anderson Dry Lake. A somewhat one-lined bomb run dropped the riders into a sand wash and Purvines Racing Beta’s T.J. Hannifin—his back still sore from his Idaho get-off—found himself in front at the end of the bomb with Caselli close behind.
It didn’t take too long for the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team star to work past the Beta, but Caselli then found himself challenged by Western Design Racing TM’s Tuffy Pearson and Blais Racing Services KTM’s Skyler Howes, who managed to banzai their way to the front and lead him for a few miles. However, Howes and Australia’s Toby Price later crashed and were taken to hospitals, Howes with a broken back and Price with a broken neck. Fortunately, both will recover. Utah teenager Josh Knight was the first to come upon them—as they’d crashed only a few yards apart—and forfeited his top 10 ride to stay with them until medical personnel from Rescue 3 arrived.
By the end of the first loop, Caselli was in front for good and he motored away to a seemingly effortless win. “I just tried to be patient because I knew it was going to be a long day,” he said. “I kind of took my time and got back around everybody and just rode my own race from there. It was kind of hit-and-miss with the [course] markings—they were tough to find because all the arrows were blown down since it was so windy. You really had to pay attention and just take your time and be patient.”
Fifth off the start, Off-Road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valley’s Jacob Argubright moved into second on the first loop and stayed there. On the “speed trap” the club set up on Soggy Dry Lake, Argubright topped out at 104 miles per hour (a speed reportedly matched by Daniel Elkins who’d finish 11th Open A and 59th overall), with Caselli’s factory bike the top speed winner at 108.
Pearson locked into third place overall by the end of that first loop and finished on the overall podium for the first time in his career, winning Open A for the third time in a row. “They were outriding me pretty bad so I just let them go,” he confessed. “After that, it was survival mode. I ended up real tired towards the end of the second loop. That third loop, it was so rough! I couldn’t do much; I was just kind of keeping going.”
Nick Burson ran strong in fourth aboard his Purvines Racing Beta, though a crash and landing on a rock knee first detuned him for the last half of the race. He held onto the position, though, less than a minute ahead of Johnny Campbell Racing Honda-supported Evan Kelly (his best overall finish to date and runner-up in Open A). Robert Underwood, newcomer Justin Morgan, Irving Powers, Tallon Taylor and Hannifin rounded out the top 10.
As for Kamo, his race went downhill not long after he launched off the line. Howes got a better jump off the line, crossed Kamo’s path and in the dust, Kamo didn’t see a yucca tree, which he centerpunched in fifth gear. The bike stopped, but he didn’t—at least not until he finished tumbling across the assorted sharp rocks on the bomb run. Battered, he nonetheless retrieved his Johnny Campbell Racing/Rockstar Energy Honda and set off to eventually finish a disappointed 16th overall, which drops him to third in points with 73, unofficially, behind Caselli (85) and Argubright (82). But there are still six rounds to go so nothing is settled yet; round five returns to Johnson Valley in two weeks.
1. Kurt Caselli (KTM 450 XC-F)
2. Jacob Argubright (Kawasaki KX450F)
3. Tuffy Pearson (TM 300 MX)
4. Nick Burson (Beta 498 RR)
5. Evan Kelly (Honda CRF450X)
6. Robert Underwood (KTM 350 SX-F)
7. Justin Morgan (Honda CRF450X)
8. Irving Powers (KTM 450 XC-F)
9. Tallon Taylor (Beta 498 RR)
10. T.J. Hannifin (Beta 498 RR)
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