Early in the week clouds and rain saturated the track of Racetown 395 in Adelanto, CA but as the weekend approached the weather lifted just in time as the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) rolled in for round 4 of the ATV series. With a clear and dry forecast for the race weekend, competitors came from all around the globe to claim the top podium position as King of the California Desert. With perfect conditions in the off-road sections of the course from rain earlier in the week, dust would not be a factor at this track known for its high speeds and deep whoops.
Fresh off his win at round 3 in Lake Havasu, AZ, Team Motoworks/Can-Am rider Josh Frederick was ready to do battle, but so were many of the other top pros as they took to the track on a perfect Saturday afternoon for their qualifying session. Grabbing the fastest time of the day was Yamaha's Dustin Nelson, giving him the first gate pick for the main event on Sunday. Close behind him was Fredericks' teammate Jeremie Warnia who has been racing the ATVA Motocross series instead of the WORCS series. Plagued with bad luck in two of the last three rounds, there was much speculation about how Nelly would do in the two-hour long event.
As high noon approached on Sunday, the Pro and Pro-Am pits started to take shape as the stage was being set for a fierce battle under perfect conditions. As the clock struck twelve, the starting gate dropped and it was the #94 machine of Dustin Nelson edging out Warnia for the holeshot as they rocketed out of the first turn. Close behind was the #8 of John Shafe who had Josh Frederick right on his grab bar followed by Ryan Piplic as the lead pack disappeared into the treacherous off-road portion of the course.
As the crowd anxiously waited to see who would emerge from the desert and make the transition to the motocross course, it was the #94 Yamaha of Nelson who had pulled a twenty bike length lead over Warnia in second place. Frederick and Shafe weren't far behind the lead pack and were being reeled in by last years series champion Beau Baron. As the riders made their way through the treacherous logs and tires of the WORCS-X portion of the course and back out to the desert, positions never changed but the distance between riders did get tighter.
Nelson continued his dominance in the desert and as Warnia pushed to gain time on the blazing fast Yamaha YFZ 450R, he made a mistake blowing a corner putting him upside down and off the course. Frederick was quick to take advantage of his teammates mistake and took over the second place position where he would attempt to hunt down Nelson. Warnia was quick to recover and get his Can-Am DS 450 back on all four wheels and hold on to 3rd place where he would finish for the day. The battle for fourth position held by John Shafe was fierce and controversial as Beau Baron kept applying pressure to Shafe but was unable to get around. Coming through the scoring chute there was contact between the two riders sending Shafe off of the track, allowing Baron to claim the fourth position. Later in the race Baron would suffer a mechanical issue in the form of a blown rear shock preventing him from being a contender at the front of the pack but still holding on to fourth place for the day.
Back up front Dustin Nelson continued his dominance over the field. Suffering from mechanical gremlins while he was leading or being a front runner in two of the past three races, most everyone in the pits had their fingers cross and was pulling for him to get his first WORCS win. As the white flag flew the crowd listened for the updates from the announcer until the blue #94 came through the pits for the last time with Nelson throwing his arms in the air in complete excitement as he was going to cross the finish line with is first win in the WORCS series. Josh Frederick put on a strong charge but was only able to close the gap by thirty-nine seconds as he took 2nd place for the day, but still leading in the series points. After the race we had the chance to get a few words with Nelly and asked him about his win. "I'm really stoaked with my first WORCS win and I couldn't be happier. I was the fastest qualifier, grabbed the holeshot and took the win for the day. It's been a great weekend."
Josh Row would come back from a mid-pack start and claim the fifth position for the day followed by his MCR teammate Levi Marana in 6th. Can-Am rookie pro rider Dillon Zimmerman would claim the 7th position followed by Dirke Baard in 8th. Baard, who is the South African Pro ATV Endurance and Roof of Africa Champion, came to compete in the WORCS race on a TRX 450R prepared by Matlock Racing. Robbie Mitchell would ride a consistent race and finish the day in 9th place and rounding out the top ten would be Ryan Piplic.
Andy Lagzdins would finish in 11th aboard his Christys/Duncan Racing Honda TRX 450R followed by John Shafe after his unfortunate get-off early in the race, then Justin Waters in 13th, Timmy Shelman in 14th and ATVR test rider Ryan Orr in 15th. Orr normally races Pro dirtbikes and rode an older Suzuki provided by Beau Baron before he raced on the MCR team. Look for Orr to come back again on an ATVR prepped machine in hopes of a top 5 finishing position.
Last years Pro-Am champion Davi Haagsma grabbed the holeshot from the drop of the gate and never looked back as he led the race from wire to wire aboard his MCR TRX 450R. Taking second place for the day was Justin Jones aboard his Gary Jones/Hinson Racing TRX 450R with Baja California being represented by Javier Robles in 3rd for the day.
As the WORCS series heads to Northern California for round 5 of the series, the competition is getting tougher and faster with each round promising fierce competition and great action.