The Adelanto Grand Prix, like the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix before, has recently had to be modified in order for the continued success of the race and even just the opportunity for it to be held. The venue of this year’s Adelanto Grand Prix, like in 2011, would be the Racetown 395 motocross facility. It’s a great place to hold a race like the historic GP as the fans can still park out in the open desert, cheer on their favorite racers and enjoy the action, but the atmosphere and organization has a bit safer feel about it. Of course some of the nostalgia has worn off as the terrain doesn’t offer the same 90mph straight-aways and racers don’t thunder down the main streets of Adelanto, but the promoters are doing a great job with the new Adelanto Grand Prix: bringing back the old mud jump, speeding up the desert sections and making a course that offers enjoyment for all levels of participants.
The course was in beautiful condition for the unclassified practice race first thing in the morning; not one bump had yet to be formed, the dirt had the perfect amount of water and the berms were big and fast. After practice it was quite a wait to the 3:45pm Pro Race and an increasing steady wind was making it difficult to keep the dust down. A great start would be crucial. The green flew and I got a great jump off the line, flying up the inside of the start straight. I reached the first turn first, but over-cooked it in my bid to get the holeshot and went really high into the first turn. Gary Sutherlin and Travis Bell were outside of me and both made great pivots and accelerated underneath and past me; Gary into the lead and Travis into second. Travis was going ballistic in the first few corners trying to get into first place and for a few moments I just sat back and remember thinking to myself, “this is gonna be sweet, he’ll just take both of them out and I’ll slide right into the lead.” Travis came up the inside of Gary and hit him pretty hard, but they both stayed upright and Gary got the message to up his pace and get a gap. Once we hit the faster parts of the desert section I got a good run on Travis and swept by down a velocious straight. I made it up to within five seconds of Gary, but the dust made it difficult to get much closer. I sat behind him the first lap, absorbing the changes in the course, finding new lines and on the second lap I tried making an effort to catch up and make the pass. I reeled in pretty close at one point, but we hit a dark powdery corner and Gary blew the berm into duty shrapnel, leaving me blinded. I felt like a blind man with a stick, trying to feel my way through the corner, and when I punched through the backside of the dust I realized I was heading straight off track and into a ditch. I plowed through the ditch, swapped back onto the course and set after him again, but realizing that overtaking him in these conditions was going to be very difficult. The race was to be seventy minutes long which meant we would each have to make a pit stop. My crew could see I was struggling in the dust so they brought me in early to pit and get me some clear air. Now it was up to me to reel him in and hope to overtake him when he came in to pit. I set out after my gas stop and blitzed the lap, pulling eight seconds in on Gary and making up all the time I had lost in the pit; at this point I knew the race was mine. He waited another lap before he would pit and all the while I just stayed about five seconds back, just out of the dust, stalking my prey. He came in the following lap and I sped by, into the lead and my first taste of fresh air out front. I held my gap over him and as the white flag waved I just told myself to ride a perfect lap, no mistakes. I made it through the fast desert and back on to the motocross section for the final time, knowing the win was mine. I crossed the checkered flag and won the Adelanto Grand Prix.
This was a great race between me and Gary out front and I really enjoyed racing him. It turned into quite the strategic battle as the pit stops proved to be the pivotal moments in the race and a big thanks to my pit crew for judging the strategy to perfection and helping get me across the checkered flag first. Huge thanks to my whole team: THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki for building a winning bike and giving me such a great effort. Thanks to Fox Racing and Asterisk for keeping my body protected and looking so stylish and thank you to all the fans along the desert sections of the course this weekend for being so enthusiastic and cheering us on; the cheering always gives us riders that encouragement to hold the throttle on a little longer and make a good show of it. There’s no rest for the weary as I head straight into Mesquite, NV this weekend for round three of the WORCS series. Looking forward to another sand whoop filled weekend!