Rider Profile: Ardo Kaurit
Monster Mountain MX Park
By Hugh Gatlin with Tom Brinkman
TALLASSEE, AL, JAN. 26, 2013
Arukula, Estonia, and Tallassee, Alabama, couldn’t be much farther apart. Well over 5,000 miles apart geographically and worlds apart in terms of culture and language, there is one thing that ties these two very small towns together: world-class motocross.
For five days in late January, Ardo Kaurit of Arukula traveled to Monster Mountain MX Park in Tallassee to prepare for the 2013 FIM MX3 World Championship Series. The 22-year-old Estonian is making his first-ever trip to the United States. After picking up a borrowed van and two borrowed bikes from a friend in Chicago, Ardo, his father, and a family friend, Tut, made their way straight to Monster Mountain.
Ardo’s father, Are Kaurit, is not only known as one of the top motocross tuners in Estonia, he is also a former world-class motocrosser himself. Are finished third in the World Motocross Sidecar Championships in 2004. He now tunes for and trains his son to carry on the family tradition.
The young Estonian is one of hundreds of riders who have found a “home away from home” during the winter months at Monster Mountain. Built in 1999 and opened in 2000, Monster Mountain has long been a favorite of riders from California to Canada – and now Estonia.
When asked about the facility, Ardo responded: “I’ve never even dreamed of a place like this. The track is awesome, the track preparation is fantastic, and the facility is super. Everyone here is so nice and the place is spotless.”
Except for the sand tracks in Belgium and the Netherlands, most of the European tracks are hard-packed. Riding on a tilled, sandy, clay track was quite a treat for the Estonian GP rider. Monster Mountain’s winter track is known for developing numerous ruts in almost every corner. Ardo did his best to take advantage of Monster Mountain’s massive elevation changes and world-class dirt to get in every bit of training he could while at “The Monster.”
Virtually every practice session on four of his five days in Alabama saw Ardo working sections, running long endurance motos, or working on sprints.
“I’ve never seen a rider work harder or longer than Ardo,” said track owner Tom Brinkman. “He’s an animal when it comes to his physical conditioning. He was up at dawn doing physical conditioning, then rode hard all day for four out of five days. I will be shocked if his smooth riding style, hard work, and excellent conditioning don’t earn him several top finishes on the GP circuit this year.”
Ardo made his MX3 debut in 2011, finishing 19th in his first GP. After the strong finish in his first-ever GP, Ardo decided, “This series is a good fit for me.”
His future looked bright for 2012 – but that only lasted one lap into the first race. Ardo crashed on the first lap of the first race at the Dutch GP in Valkenswaard and suffered a season-ending compound fracture of his wrist after another rider landed on him. As quickly as it had started, his 2012 season was over.
“It just made me more motivated than ever,” Ardo said of the crash-induced injury. “We spent the entire winter doing physical conditioning and even did quite a bit of riding in the snow back home in Estonia.”
After 13 years on KTMs, Ardo made the switch to the Yamaha 450 and will be campaigning the MX3 Series for Yamaha of Estonia. His goal for the 2013 season is to finish all the races with, hopefully, a top 10 overall in the points standings.
“Then I feel I will be very competitive in the 2014 season,” he noted, “as we seek to get even better results.”
After leaving Monster Mountain, the Kaurits were off to MTF in Georgia for more training, and they had also planned a stop at Waldo in Florida on their way to a few well-deserved days off in Miami. Ardo also plans to try to work in at least one race in the States before heading back to Europe. His first stop upon arriving home will be to load up and head to Lommel and other Belgian sand tracks to train for the season opener at Valkenswaard on March 31.
When asked about meeting Ardo and his father, Tom replied: “That’s one of the coolest parts of owning a place like Monster Mountain: When you have champions like Ashley Fiolek driving 12 hours to train at Monster, and legends like Doug Henry dropping in to ride, it’s a motocrosser’s dream. I think I got the biggest kick out of it when Marty Smith called the place ‘totally bitchin’!”
Judging from the smile on Ardo’s face, it seems he would agree.