Beau Baron was fastest off...
Beau Baron was fastest off the start and into the first corner.
The first month of the year means taking down all of your Christmas decorations, trying to get rid of the fruitcake that your Aunt Martha sent you and round 1 of the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS). This year as everyone prepared their machines to do battle out on the track, the WORCS track crew was busy re-routing the course because of heavy rains that hammered Speedworld MX all of that week. Even as riders were pulling into town Thursday night for Friday practice, they were experiencing heavy rains, strong winds and even an occasional tornado warning. With the weather we were experiencing, you would have thought this first race of the year was being held in the Midwest.
Yamaha mounted Dustin Nelson...
Yamaha mounted Dustin Nelson took the lead from Baron in the first lap, but a mechanical issue ended his day just after the one hour mark.
Since it had been raining so bad during the week and a riverbed runs directly through the National MX track at Speedworld MX, the course was drastically changed from previous years. On Friday when most of the riders would be out on the track practicing and getting their machines dialed in for a weekend of racing, everyone concentrated on preparing their machines for muddy conditions and staying warm since practice was cancelled to minimize damage to the track. With only a few moderate showers on Friday night, the weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend only called for cloudy skies and slight breezes. This would make for almost perfect riding conditions since the dry desert landscape soaked up almost every drop of water that fell from the sky.
Heavy rains all week littered...
Heavy rains all week littered the course with mud and water for the racers to deal with all weekend.
The track that everyone would be running was trimmed from the normal 7-10 mile laps down to just over 4 miles and was mainly run through very high-speed desert sections. Water puddles and mud holes were scattered throughout the course from the heavy rains in the days before, but for the most part the track was almost perfect since there would be little to no dust. Interesting parts of the track would be a man-made log bridge that riders would have to cross before having to turn around and go under it in a sandy wash section of the course and the Speedworld Arenacross Track. The Arenacross section of the course featured a few doubles but was primarily a one-line area because of the sloppy clay like surface it was made out of. Once you got out of the groove, riders would struggle to find traction.
At the beginning of the weekend...
At the beginning of the weekend this log bridge was tight and covered with dirt. A weekend of racing left it bare and worn into the dirt.
After a full day and a half of amateur racing, all of the Pro and Pro-Am riders staged their machines on the starting line anxiously waiting for the green flag to be thrown at high noon. As the flag was thrown, Beau Baron grabbed the holeshot on his Mike Cafro Racing (MCR) Honda TRX 450R followed closely by Yamaha’s Dustin Nelson who started the 2010 season with a new engine, exhaust, tire and wheel sponsor with Motorworks and DWT. Out of the first corner it was Baron, Nelson, Tim Shelman, Ryan Piplic and Josh Row with former WORCS Champion Josh Frederick in the middle of the remaining pack.
Cole Henry came from back...
Cole Henry came from back east to ride his Motoworks/Can-Am to a first place finish in his first ever WORCS event.
Three quarters of the way into the first lap Dustin Nelson had taken over the lead with only a bike length between him and the bumper of Beau Baron. It was easy to see that these two were setting a blistering pace, as it was at least 10-12 seconds before Josh Frederick would come into sight in third place followed by Timmy Shelman and Dillon Zimmerman. As the race went on, both Baron and Nelson had kept their lead over the rest of the field, which also started to spread out as the course started to deteriorate with the passing of each lap. Mid way through the race one of the best battles to watch was between the number 13 of Timmy Shelman and number 4 of Robbie Mitchell. As I watched from the sidelines taking pictures of the action these two would come into the corners nose to tail lap after lap.
In his first attempt, ATVR...
In his first attempt, ATVR team rider Steven Albert qualified for the Pro-Am race and finished 15th and hopes to improve to top ten finishes over the season.
Just past the 1-hour mark of the race and not long after both of the leaders had made their pit stops in the 2-hour long event there was a huge turn of events. At the time Beau Baron held the lead over Dustin Nelson by mere seconds, disaster struck for Nelson on his Yamaha YFZ 450R as he had lost his chain and would be done for the day. This turn of events took a good amount of pressure off of Baron as he would take the win of the first WORCS race of the year with a margin of almost two minutes ahead of Team Motoworks/Can-Am’s Josh Frederick.
At the end of the race, it wasn’t the large margin of victory for Beau Baron or the unfortunate luck of Dustin Nelson that had all of the attendees surprised in the pits and stands, it was the third place finish for MCR team owner Mike Cafro. Mike rode a consistent race and charged hard to take the final position on the podium with only six seconds separating him from the fourth place finisher Robbie Mitchell. Rounding out the top 5 for the day would be team the Motoworks/Can-Am rider Dillon Zimmerman who would also be the last rider to stay on the lead lap. Justin Waters would end his day in 6th, followed by Timmy Shelman in 7th, GNCC regular Jeff Pickens in 8th, Josh Row in 9th following a rough dismount early in the firs lap and finally Ryan Piplic rounding out the top 10.
The Motoworks/Can-Am team...
The Motoworks/Can-Am team demonstrates a flawless pit stop for Josh Frederick helping him secure a second place finish for the day.
The only controversy of the day came at the awards presentation where WORCS officials called Dustin Nelson to claim the holeshot award. While spectators and media alike called the holeshot to Beau Baron, the officials must have seen it differently. Dustin Nelson knew this as well since when they presented him with the check, he stated how surprised he was because he clearly saw that Baron had beat him to the first turn and gave him the credit due. Good job Dustin.
The battles in this class were no less heated than what was seen by spectators in the Pro Class on this day. Team Motoworks/Can-Am had a new hired gun to replace Dillon Zimmerman who went pro this year, and his name is Cole Henry. While he is no stranger to competitive ATV racing, being a regular on the ATVA MX circuit, this was his first ever WORCS event or any type off endurance event for that matter. After starting off in the first ¼ of the pack, Cole moved into first place by the second lap and never relinquished the lead from there. Following Cole was ATVR test rider Garrin Fuller who took second place on his Duncan Racing Honda TRX 450R, followed by Keith Johnson aboard his MCR Honda TRX 450R.
Defending Pro-Am Champion David Haagsma, who is also a new member of the MCR team, took 4th place, followed by Javier Robles Jr. in 5th, Ron Heath in 6th, Michael Bunyea in 7th, Chase Thomas in 8th, Cody Mitchell in 9th and rounding out the top 10 was Blake Barnum.
Around The Pits
Jeff Pickens was not the only GNCC regular found around the track this weekend. The GBC Motorsports rig showed up to the track early in the week and was loaded with quads. Team High Energy and GBC representative Kevin Johnston made the drive out to AZ along with Santo DeRisi and some friends to participate in the event. While the setups on their machines weren’t quite suited for the high-speed course that the Speedworld track provided, they had a blast racing in the desert. The trailer also hauled out the quad of someone that I didn’t expect to see. Traci Cecco flew into Phoenix late Friday night so she would be able to race the Womens A class. Not only did she race it, but she showed just how fast she could be in the desert as well as on a tight wooded GNCC course as she claimed top honors in that class.
This race provided plenty of drama and action from some of the most talented riders in the world, and it’s only the first round of the series. The next round of the WORCS series will be held in Primm, NV where it will primarily be a desert course and will run on the same weekend as dirtbikes. Check back after that race for another full race report on a great race series.