Round 2 of the GXE Motorcycle Endurance Series headed North from Barstow to the high desert of Spangler Hills SVRA just outside of the city of Ridgecrest. Scorching weather the week prior subsided and big clouds blew in making for perfect racing weather around 70 degrees with a good breeze. The course would feature a figure 8 configuration offering more opportunities for a lot more rider changes, more pit strategy, more spectating and more fun all around. Loop A would be 20 miles of technical single track twisting around the mountains below Stevens mine – Loop B would be 20 miles of fast flowing trails, roads and washes – together they would be 40 miles, 4 laps and 160 miles of great team racing!
At the drop of the flag, the Pro’s were off in the dead engine start and it looked like Axel Pearson aboard his Purvines Beta 300 would get the holeshot but it was his stable mate Nick Burson on his Beta 499 cutting in early to take the lead over the first hill. Less then a mile later Pearson would hit something in the dust and go down handing 2nd, and the 2 stroke pro lead, over to the 3 Bro’s KTM 250 of Kevin Dejongh followed by another 3 Brothers KTM of Ryan Kudla. While Burson would check out the two KTM 2 Strokes would do battle for the next 10 miles until Kudla would get by in a whooped wash and take over the 2 Stroke Pro lead. “Once I got around Kevin I couldn’t see Burson at all so I just put my head down knowing that Axel was going to be coming soon.”
The second row to leave would be the Open A and Senior A teams and with another phenomenal start would be the KTM 300 of Mike Whitcomb. He would get out front of the young bucks who woud blow the corner, proving that most desert racers don’t know how to turn! AS Racing’s Anthony Vasquez would elect to Ironman the entire 160 miles aboard his CRF 450 X and woud go back and forth with Whitcomb and his team mate Don Campbell for the entire event. The main carnage of the event was with all of the SRT teams. First the Open A team of Justin Linenbach and Andrew Maas when Linenbach would clip a big rock in a wash and cartwheel the bike into a pile of boulders cracking his case. Then he’d push his bike close to 2 miles to trade off his wrist band to Maas and they would battle back from literally dead last to 13th overall. Then it would be the Open A team of Kevin Driver and Craig Thompson when Driver’s rear shock would break giving him a good pounding through the entire first loop but they were still able to hold on for 10th overall and 2nd in class.
Another team that was making waves was the Father/Son duo of Kyle and Butch Moore. They started on the back row, with the Industry teams, and at one point were running as high as 5th overall! They would decimate the other family teams eventually finishing 8th overall, a full 38 minutes ahead of the AS Racing team of Roger Hurd and Steve Harper.
Back out front, while Nick Burson extened his lead and passed off the bike to Tallon Taylor, the 2 stroke Pro battle would heat up. Kudla would trade off to Kevin Murphy, Dejongh would trade off to Ricky Hardy and Pearson would trade off to Ryan Smith. Pearson had worked his way back up to 4th overall just behind Dejongh and Smith would put in a solid lap to over take Hardy and put them in a solid 3rd overall within striking distance of Kudla and Murphy. Kudla would get back on the bike and stretch the gap out again to nearly 3 minutes on the 3rd lap. Pearson/Smith would chance it with their nearly 4 gallon Beta tanks and skip the pits. When Kudla handed it back off to Murphy Smith was able to catch back up to within just a few seconds going out onto the final 20 mile loop. Five miles out Murphy would blow a corner…”I overshot in the boulders and got lost in the maze” Murphy exclaimed “once I finally got out Axel was in front and I did everything I could to stay with him.”
Crossing the finish line, finishing the 160 mile event in 3 hours and 34 minutes, Tallon Taylor and Nick Burson made it look easy. They finished a full 10 minutes ahead of Pearson/Smith who would hold on to 2nd Overall and 1st 2 Stroke Pro all the way into the finish grabbing the big money SRT purse for the team. “We really didn’t know if the bike would make the whole 60 miles but there was more then enough to get to the finish!” they said at the checkered. “It was a gamble that definitely paid off!” Just 26 seconds later Murphy/Kudla would come across the finish line in 3rd Overall and 2nd 2 Stroke Pro for the second time in the series. Hardy/Dejongh would cross the line in 4th Overall and 3rd 2 Stroke Pro even though he wasn’t even close to used to riding a 2 stroke.
After going back and forth with brothers Danny and Wyatt Modica for the entire race Whitcomb/Campbell would come across the finish line in 5th overall taking another Senior A win. Just behind the two would be Vasquez finishing 6th Overall, 1st Open A and 1 Overall Ironman completing the entire event himself. Vasquez would join 3 other AS Racing Teams on their respective podiums, including; Anna Cody/Megan Oblansky – 1st Industry, Robbie Huber/BJ Stronge – 3rd Open C, Dan Johnson/Greg Johnston/John Sides – 2nd Senior A.
In the Quad class the TTR backed team of Bill Markel and Chris Peatross would take another win. They would start 2nd but Markel would make the pass for the lead in the first mile and never look back. They would finish 23rd Overall with a time of 5 hours and 5 minutes.
Next Round – July 12-14 El Dorado RENO EXTREME – Ama National Hare and Hound – Score/HDRA World Championship – Dakar Challenge – GXE Tie Breaker Round