David Balvage captures riders ready to start 2012 Prairie Dogs Gran Prix at Glen Helen
The course for round two of the Big 6 series at Glen Helen was hosted by the Prairie Dogs MC Club and they did a great job laying out a longer course with lap times in the twelve minute range. They ran the famous motocross track, truck track, surrounding sand washes and thanks to a newly built water tower on the top of Mount St. Helens they were able to utilize a majority of the ridges surrounding the facility. The only hiccup in the weekend turned out to be the blustery winds that played havoc all weekend, drying out the off-road sections into a dusty blur.
My first event was the Heavyweight expert class with the JCR boys Colton Udall and Timmy Weigand being the main competition. It was a dead engine start and unfortunately my bike decided I needed some practice coming through the pack as it took four kicks to start. I got going and moved through the pack quickly, getting into third before the off-road section of the course. The Honda boys were one-two with the slight advantage of their electric starts and I worked to get right onto the back of Colton. Once we hit the back sections it was hard to stay too close in the dust and we each dropped to about an eight second gap from Timmy to Colton and then back to me. I had more speed than the two ahead of me as I’d reel them in on the watered sections of the course but then we’d hit the dusty back sections and I’d be forced to back off and lose a few seconds. With a couple laps to go I rounded a left hander and saw Colton remounting just in front of me. He had plowed through a silt berm and tipped over, but kept the bike running and got going just ahead of me. I was all over him, but on the narrow ridges it was tough to get a run on him and once we hit a couple silty sections I was forced to drop back a little. We came into the truck course and I was closer than I had been all race long, with visions of attacking and passing Colton on the motocross track. Unfortunately we were into lapped traffic by this point which was proving sketchy as we were passing novice and beginner riders left and right. I was speeding into a right handed sweeper and a slower rider came from the left side of the track across the front of me and I had nowhere to go but to hit his back end and violently high-side of my bike. It wasn’t the rider’s fault; he was just taking his line, but the fact that we‘re on the same course with novice and beginner riders makes for a scary situation for everyone racing. I feel it’s too big of a gap in speed to have us all in the same event. I remounted a ways behind the leaders and cruised in for what I thought was third place, but Colton had an issue on the last lap and didn’t finish so I was bumped to second.
Up next was the Four Stroke race and again the Hondas were quickest off the line and one-two into the first corner. I was fourth this time behind Justin Seeds and he was sporting to let me by as we hit the off-road portion of the course. It was the same story as the previous race as I’d reel Colton and Timmy in only to lose time in the dust. Tragically I was to suffer some bad luck again, this time in the form of a flat rear tire. I came into the pit and my crew did a great job to get it changed and get me back out there in third place, just ahead of Justin and I came home in third place.
Sunday’s Pro main event was to be a little over two hours long and the organizers added in a fun canyon section they dubbed “Costa Rica” as it was super overgrown and really tight and twisty. The Honda boys had left for Mexico, but Gary Sutherlin, Ryan Abbatoye, Kyle Summers and Ross Neely came out to participate in the Pro event. It was a motocross style start and as the green lights flashed I was quickest off the line and came out of the first turn with the holeshot, Kyle Summers right behind me. I was riding a little defensive the first lap and guarded the inside in a corner I probably didn’t need to which spoiled my drive down the next straightaway. Kyle had railed the corner and had a little more speed down the next straight which carried him by me and into the lead. The next few laps the gap between us would accordion as one of us would have a clean lap and the other would make a mistake and around an hour in we were separated by just around twelve seconds. We had to come in for pits soon and Kyle went in first, giving me the lead as I would wait until the next lap for my stop. I had hoped I would dust him out and have enough of a gap to keep the lead after my pit but he did a great job of staying close and as I came in to pit he retook the lead. I got going around fifteen back and held the gap there for a couple laps until I came into the canyon section. There were a few places you could possibly cut some corners off and save a few seconds, but they were really overgrown and in a bid to try to make some time on Kyle I tried to bust through the brush. It didn’t work out too well as I got completely stuck to the point that I had to dismount and pull my bike backwards back onto the course and get going. I lost about twenty seconds that lap and from there I put it on cruise control with one eye looking towards Baja and not completely wearing myself out. I crossed the line second.
All in all it was a decent weekend; Saturday definitely wasn’t my day, but I got points, stayed healthy and now I’m looking forward to the SCORE San Felipe 250. I’d like to thank all my sponsors, THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki, Fox Racing and Asterisk for their continued support. It going to be a heck a race in Mexico and I’m looking forward to getting down there and getting it on!