With the eighth round of the WORCS series being held at Pala, I liked my chances of getting my first win in the series; I felt the terrain would suit my style and the racecourse didn’t disappoint. The track actually turned out to be quite technical as embedded rocks littered the off road section, making it a little scary to hang it out and push the limits, but also quite a rush. I felt great after unclassified and felt it would be a two way battle between myself and Taylor for the win, I’d just need to get a great start, as always, to give myself a shot at pushing for the win.
As the gate dropped for the first moto I was leaning a little far forward and spun out of the hole, putting me around sixth through the first turn. Ryan Abbatoye was on the outside of me in the second turn and I made a quick push inside of him and into fifth. From there I had a little back and forth with Bobby Garrison before settling into fifth and making a push to catch up to the back of Gary Sutherlin in fourth. As we completed the first lap and came back into the motocross section Gary and I split lines before a big double jump as the outside was the preferred line to clear it. I dove inside and blew over the berm to block Gary’s line and took fourth place behind the leading Taylor Robert, second place Colton Udall and third place Josh Strang. I closed onto the back of Strang and in the off road was able to push by in a rocky section. From there I started an epic three-lap duel with Colton, who I must say impressed me with his speed, as he was only a few seconds out of first place three laps in. I closed right onto the back of him and around a tight right-handed corner he was struggling to find traction. I made a push around the outside for the pass and actually felt lucky he didn’t hit the throttle as he could have pushed me right off the track if he wanted to. Fortunately for me he stayed inside, I was able to make the pass stick and being only a few seconds behind Taylor, found myself in a great position to battle for the win. Down a technical and rocky section I was pushing the limits of my traction, trying for every bit of speed I could muster, when my front tire clipped the edge of a rock in an instant I was off the track and on the ground. I kept the bike running, but unfortunately Colton was close enough to speed right back by me and into second. It took me a lap to get back up behind him and before a fast straightaway I flew to the outside berm and then made a quick cut to the inside of Colton and on the exit we were side by side, racing for position. I was able to get just a wheel on him and push into second place once again as we were both fifth gear wide open down the back straight. Coming into the following right-handed corner I wanted to make sure Colton couldn’t come inside of me and I was flying a bit too fast for what little traction there was. I finally realized I wasn’t going to make the corner and had to fly straight off the track into an overgrown field filled with basketball-sized rocks. Luckily I managed to avoid hitting anything, but once again Colton raced back by me as my frustration increased. I spent another lap catching back up to him and just before the motocross section, the pressure finally showed as he went wide coming out of a corner and made it easy for me to finally put my stamp on second place. I was around seven seconds behind Taylor, made a big push to get up behind him, and over the next two laps had cut the deficit to about four seconds. With just a few laps to go, I feel my efforts coming through the pack got the best of me and I couldn’t quite hold the pace. I dropped to around twelve seconds back and crossed the finish line in second.
I had a great recovery and felt fantastic coming into the second moto, as I knew it would once again be a battle between Taylor and myself. I got a fourth place start, but made a quick couple moves on Justin Jones and Josh Strang and found myself in second, just seconds behind Taylor; the battle had begun. I sat on the back of him for the first forty minutes of the race as we traded fast lap times and around the forty-five minute mark I felt him make a push to drop me. I was able to match his interval and pushed right up to his rear wheel, pressing as we flew back into the motocross track. There were multiple lines through a tricky ditch and I felt mine was a bit faster and at the exit we were wheel to wheel. In Taylor’s haste to close me off he got a little sideways and opened the door for me to shoot up the inside as I out broke him into the following corner. Through the following rock section we were side by side, but I had the inside line and at the exit of the section I was in sole possession of the lead. Taylor was going nuts trying to retaliate in the mx section and dove inside of me in an effort to take the line, but in doing so he pushed me wide off the track and I had to pin it around the following obstacle and back on course to maintain first place. We raced through the next corner and I had enough of a gap to hold him off, but was off balance heading into the following right. Taylor later said he also made a slight bobble and in his effort to correct it he hit my back end and fell. A couple corners later he made another mistake and I suddenly had just over a ten second lead. We both pitted the next lap and I was able to maintain a ten second advantage, but Taylor was pushing hard to close the distance. Heading into the same ditch where I was able to make the pass for the lead I noticed a lapper in my line bobbling and having trouble and I made the decision to switch my line and take the outside. As I dropped in to the ditch my front end hit a buried rock, blew my hands off the bars and I went down. I tried my best to stay calm, knowing I had just thrown away the lead, lifted my bike up out of the ditch and got going again around twenty seconds behind Taylor. The next lap I dropped into the rock section and simply lost the front end, falling into another hole. It took me almost a minute to finally get out and going again, but luckily we had pulled out to almost two minutes on the third place Bobby Garrison and I was able to keep a firm grasp on second. From that point I just cruised into the finish in second, knowing in the back of my mind the win was mine and I let it slip away.
Overall I was ecstatic with my weekend, as I had the fastest lap in both motos and showed I’m a true threat for the win. The WORCS crew did an awesome job all weekend, as the course was fantastic and I really enjoyed the terrain. Of course I’m disappointed I lost the race, but it was a blast pushing that hard up front with Taylor and I feel everyone enjoyed the show we put on. I want to give a huge thanks to the whole team: Monster Energy, THR Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki for putting in all the hard work they do and to all of the team sponsors that make this effort possible. Special thanks to Fox Racing, Asterisk, Hookit.com and John Burr Cycles for their continued support and to everyone who was cheering us on this weekend; the enthusiasm gives us the incentive to push the limits of our speed. Now I’m heading up to Washougal for the Motocross National with big plans and I feel everything’s coming together for me to put in a good showing. Thanks again to everyone for the support!