Kenda/SRT West Hare Scrambles Championship Series
Round 6: ETRA Hare Scrambles at Big K Guest Ranch
Courtesy of Erek Kudla
Photos by Grumpy
ELKTON, OR, JUNE 20-21, 2015
This summer, the Kenda/SRT West Hare Scrambles Championship Series headed to its northernmost round in the mountains outside of Elkton, Oregon. The Big K Guest Ranch is home to what many racers consider to be the “classic” hare scrambles course: all in the trees, all single-track, and all on private property. ETRA hosted the two-day event, and it was more than successful, as more than 360 riders lined up to do battle over the weekend!
After the long drive through the mountains and up to the top of the staging area, the riders were greeted by one of the most amazing views of the Umpqua River.
The first riders to take to the trails were the 4- to 8-year-old Pee Wees aboard their 50cc machines. At the drop of the green flag, they were off, and both Vacaville, California’s Zach Scarpulla and San Jose, California’s Elizabeth Edwards grabbed the Batterystuff.com Holeshot Award as they launched onto the two-mile course. Scarpulla took over the lead, and he would lap every single rider in the field! Edwards held on to finish second, and she would also lap everyone behind her. They were followed by Coquille, Oregon’s Mackenzie Cook.
The next racers to line up were the fastest Youth racers in off-road: the Superminis, the Minis and the Girls’ class.
Fly Racing’s Austin Philips nabbed the Batterystuff.com Holeshot Award with a handful of throttle while standing up through the corner, and he led the rest of the riders into the woods. The series points leader, Mach 1 Motorsports-backed John Modena, made quick work of Philips, moving into first before the end of the first lap. Meanwhile, Philips lost a battle with a tree, so he had his work cut out for him for the rest of the day; he eventually finished eighth.
Modena went on to take his third victory of the season, while 707 Racing’s Lochlan Campbell would battle through the field from more than five minutes behind Modena to finish second, just two minutes and 23 seconds back. Campbell was followed by another 707 racer, Mason Parker, who was just 55 seconds behind.
The Mini class was once again dominated by T.O. Powersports-backed Mason Matthies, who nabbed the holeshot and led this one from wire to wire. He would also finish sixth overall against the big bikes and the girls, making this one of his best finishes to date! Matthies was followed by Clint French of Washougal, Washington, and Michael Oliveira of Laselva Beach, California, who rounded out the Mini podium.
Ava Silvestri once again took the victory in the Girls’ class, putting her just two points behind her friend (and main competition) Bailey Rhodes, once throw-aways are taken into account. As we have said over and over, this battle will go all the way to the final round – and there are only two rounds to go. Maddison Freitas of Grizzly Flat, California, finished second, in between these two ladies, marking her best finish of the season so far!
The final Youth race of the weekend saw the Junior Minis and Micro Mini 65s take to the course for an hour and a half. The first row would be dominated once again by 707 Racing’s Logan McChesney, who is now only six points away from wrapping up his first National Championship. He got the Batterystuff.com Holeshot Award and never looked back.
Taking his third runner-up finish was 3 Bro’s Husqvarna’s Eric Burdell, who had one of his best rides of the season.
“I felt really good out there!” Burdell exclaimed. “I’m not super good in the trees, but it just clicked for me!”
Eight minutes back, Benjamin Edwards of San Jose, California, finished in third. This was second time on the podium this season.
The Micro Mini-class championship has already been wrapped up by Zeke Degeyter, and with this being his local round, he was the odds-on favorite for the win – and he did not disappoint. Wyatt Mattoch of Boulder Creek, California, took the holeshot, but Degeyter made quick work of Mattoch and took the win by just under five minutes. Lane Forbes made the long trek north for the event to take another third place on the season, and he left the event with a huge smile on his face, as usual!
The final race of Saturday would see all of the C classes and the Masters Over 60 racers line up to take on the full course: 14 miles of tight trees, water crossings, the wood matrix at the halfway point, the iconic “100-mph Hill,” and “Log Deck” just before the finish. This was the first line to take on the entire package, and Scott Getty got to the first corner only inches ahead of Jeff Durkin, but Durkin got out front before the next corner, where Getty slid out in the grass. Durkin would go on to take the overall victory handily, but the real story was the race going on behind him!
There were two big battles going on. The first was between the C 200cc racer Hayden Hintz, who had taken the overall win at round five, and Supermini Holeshot Award winner Austin Philips, would also take the holeshot in the big-bike race. Hintz worked his way up from third to first, taking his second class victory in a row and finishing third overall C rider.
The next battle was for the Masters Over 60 win. There was chaos going into the first corner, with Larry Kleinschmidt and Wes Anderson Jr. – who are first and second in the points chase, respectively – colliding and ending up in a pile in the first corner. Both racers got up slowly; Anderson would have to pull out with a broken rear-brake caliper, while Kleinschmidt had to change his goggles, as his the lens had broken out.
Once Kleinschmidt got going again, he would make his way into the lead in just one lap! He would go on to take the 707 Racing Suspension Overall Award and the win after the crash. He was beat up – but more than happy to take another win!
Sunday would see only one race – the big one, featuring all the Pro, FMF Pro 250cc, A and B riders. At this point in the championship, there have been four different winners in round rounds, with Purvines Racing’s Nick Burson being the only two-time winner to date, although many of the other top racers have been very close to doubling up, so this one seemed to be anyone’s game. Past three-time winner Rory Sullivan of Motorsport.com was the odds-on favorite to win, but he had spent little time getting ready for the race and was admittedly not ready for the weekend – but that’s how he is every time! With lots of other local racers ready to throw their hats in the ring, this was going to be a great battle, to be sure.
Going into the first corner, local racer Devin Bolin pushed everyone wide and nabbed the Batterystuff.com Holeshot Award, while Burson, Justin Bonita and many others who took the outside wound up mired in the dust.
There was lots of shuffling going on over the first few laps, but the series points leader, SRT Off-Road’s Cory Graffunder, made his way to the front when Bolin took a spill on the first lap.
Bolin then kept Graffunder honest for the first few laps, staying within 40 seconds, but he could never get close enough to make a pass back.
“I really never expected to do this well,” admitted Bolin, who’d surprised even himself. “I was just wanting to get a top-10, but being in the lead group was awesome!”
Graffunder had an uneventful ride, putting in solid laps for the entire three hours and 29 minutes that the race spanned and extending his points lead to 26.
Many racers took over the third position over the span of the three-hour-plus race, but none seemed to be able to hold on to it. Round-four winner Vaughn Wilk was in third until he hit a tree and had to pull out.
Round two’s third-overall finisher, Justin Bonita, inherited the position but then suffered the same fate.
RPM/ KTM’s Travis Coy was mired in the pack after the start and had to deal with the thick dust while he picked his way though the pack after a terrible start. He battled his way from eighth on the first lap to being the final racer to take over the third position, and he would run it all the way to the finish line.
Burson suffered the most after the terrible start, going wide and struggling in the trees. He finished 11th overall, handing second place in the championship back over to Coy.
“I knew I wouldn’t do well in the trees, but with that terrible start, it was going to be a long day,” Burson said. “I ran into a tree hard on the first lap and lost my front fender and just did my best to stay in the points on the day.”
Burson was disappointed in his finish but was looking forward to the final two rounds of the season.
After battling back and forth with Tucker Larrieu and Rory Sullivan, Steven Godman put in his best ride to date and finished fourth overall, just ahead of Larrieu. Sullivan pulled off after four laps with bike issues. Just behind Larrieu was FMF Pro 250cc victor Joey Fiasconaro, who was competing in his first race back after recuperating from a serious injury sustained while practicing.
“I just came out to salvage some points, and I ended up getting the full 30!” Fiasconaro said. “Can’t be happier with my finish today.”
Fiasconaro was followed by Justin McGovern and Chaz Halbert, who battled all the way to the finish with less then a second separating them at the checkered flag.
The TBT Women’s Overall is the only guaranteed payout of the entire series, so this one is always hotly contested! While Kalyn Benaroya took the early lead, Garrahan Off-Road Training’s Sophia Oliveira took over the point position and checked out on the entire field. She led pretty much from wire to wire and took the win (and the $100), over Sharon Mowell (who pocketed $75) and Olivia Francis (who earned $50).
With the summer break upon us, everyone is now getting ready for the final two rounds of the season. Round seven will be the first true desert round. Leading up to this, we have raced in the “high desert,” but round seven is the “true desert,” held within the Johnson Valley OHV Area in Lucerne Valley, California. It is also a “dual-race weekend,” with the Kenda/SRT National Hare and Hound season finale. Saturday will be the West Hare Scrambles, and the Youth race will host both the WHS and NHHA Youth racers, battling head to head. Sunday will be the National Hare and Hound event, with no Youth races.
For the results from this event, please go to http://www.moto-tally.com/whs/results.aspx.
For more information, including past releases, please visit www.nationalhareandhound.com.