When Purvines Beta’s Nick Burson saw the schedule for the 2016 AMA West Hare Scramble Championship, one thing came to mind… Round 6 in Lucerne Valley!
That is because he is a desert ace and has been winning racing in Lucerne Valley for over 10 years. The thing that Burson wasn’t expecting, however, was the fact that he would suffer a torn labrum just 60 days before the Lucerne Valley event held in the Southern California desert on September 3.
“I have basically just been off the bike all summer,” Burson said. “It was really hard to know that this round is coming, and it was going to be an important one for the championship. Last week (in Panaca) I just struggled to hold on, but this week I finally felt like myself again.”
Any West Coast desert racer knows how fast Burson is, and at Round 6 he was true to that reputation, besting second place by over three and a half minutes at the finish. It wasn’t all easy going for Burson, however, as Rick’s Custom Shutters-backed Ryan Smith piloted his YZ450F to within seconds of Burson many times in the first three laps.
“I rode just out of Nick’s dust for the first whole lap,” Smith said. “It gave me a chance to get the pace down and see how fast I needed to be to run up front.”
Smith, who had yet to score an overall podium at the Pro level going into round six, was challenged for each of the first two laps, however, and ultimately benefited by being able to follow Burson. Gary Sutherlin survived a subpar start and pulled to within 10 seconds of Smith before ultimately dropping out with a broken rear brake. Another challenger for Smith up near the front was Purvines Beta’s Alex Pearson, who came nearly as close before dropping back after a crash on loop three.
Running 30-minute lap times on the 17-mile course, the leaders recorded five laps. Five tough and rocky laps, which ultimately got the best of third overall finisher Nic Garvin who physically collapsed at the finish line and was attended to by course officials before learning that he had finished third overall. Skipping the pits on his last go around, Garvin had no idea that Sutherlin had withdrawn, which ultimately moved him into third overall.
“I am just so happy,” Garvin explained on the podium. “I have been working so hard for this, and it just feels great that it finally happened! I had to push with everything I had to finish up here. I thought that I was riding to hold onto fourth, but to get in and learn that I was third was just the icing on the cake!”
With the third overall, Garvin joins a long list (which now includes Ryan Smith as well) of world class desert racers who have stood atop the NHHA podium at a national event. With a nearly six-minute gap over fourth-place finisher Steven Goodman, it is safe to assume that this is a first of many for Garvin, who rode an Ox Motorsports backed CRF450X.
The FMF 250 Pro class was equally exciting as the top three 250 Pro riders all finished within the top 10 overall. Taking the win at round six was Northern California based Hare Scrambles ace Dante Oliveira, who finished with a nearly 14-minute margin over second come the finish line.
“I love coming out here to the desert,” Oliveira said. “We have been racing these hare scrambles for the last couple of years, and it is just fun to get out to the open fast stuff. It was pretty rocky today, but I hit fifth gear a couple of times!”
SRT backed JT Baker finished second in the 250cc Pro class and ninth overall, followed by JCR Honda rider Jarett Megla, who recorded his first AMA Pro podium.
“This was a super fun course, really tight and rocky and I am stoked to get on the podium for the first time,” Megla said. “The trail did get torn up toward the end, but my 250F worked great in the tight stuff. Passing got tough on the way back in with the sun getting close to setting but all in all it was a great race.”
In the earlier race, the Women’s class battled it out with the 60+and Novice/Beginner classes on a shortened 12-mile course. Complementing Dante Oliveira’s performance in the 250cc Pro class, Sophie Oliveira took home some hardware of her own, recording her fifth hare scrambles win of the season.
“It was really rocky, but I think that is what helped me gap the other girls in my class.” she said on the podium.
Ending the day three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, Sophie Oliveira heads into the final two rounds with a 54-point lead in the championship. Second in the class went to Sharon Mowell who recorded her fifth podium of the season after finishing one minute ahead of third-place racer Stephanie Giroux.
Also competing in the earlier race was 60+ racer Cordis Brooks, a former contender for the overall win at just about any desert race. Brooks is pushing hard ito become the 60+ National Champion in both Hare Scrambles and Hare and Hound. With the win here at round six, he now takes the points lead with two desert rounds remaining.
Early mornings at NHHA events are all about the youth racers. Mason Mathies, who has always been fast in the mini class, recorded the overall victory in the Super Mini class after building a 10-minute gap over second. The only other riders to finish all three laps were Clayton Roberts and Bradley East, who finished second and third respectively. In the Girls division, Lacy Olivas took home the victory, followed by Ava Silvestri and Brook Olivas.
The next round of the West Hare Scrambles championship takes place in Plaster City, California, as the Roadrunners M.C. hosts round seven of the series October 1.
2016 AMA West Hare Scrambles Series
Lucerne Valley, California
Results: September 3, 2016
1. Nick Burson-Bet
2. Ryan Smith-Yam
3. Nic Garvin-Hon
4. Steven Goodman-KTM
5. Austin Sherpa-KTM
6. Dante Oliveira-KTM
7. Grant Statley-Yam
8. Sage Vincent-Suz
9. Axel Pearson-Bet
10. Troy Vanscourt-Kaw