Former champion Jacob Argubright wins the Desert M.C. Fall Classic HS, but Graffunder clinches the 2015 title one round early.
Story and Photos by Mark Kariya
Cory Graffunder doesn’t consider himself a desert racer by any definition, though he’s raced in the desert a few times. Being from Canada, he’s much more at home in trees, mud and slippery rocks.
But that doesn’t mean he can’t go pretty fast out in desolate western landscape, and he proved that at the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area east of Lucerne Valley, California, by wrapping up the 2015 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship Series title on October 24, with one round remaining.
Going into the inaugural Fall Classic Hare Scramble hosted by the Desert Motorcycle Club, the seventh of eight rounds in the series, SRT KTM’s Graffunder carried a comfortable 26-point lead over Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Travis Coy, 152-126, with Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson a close third at 121. With a win worth 30 points, second awarding 25, third 21 and so on, Graffunder was aware that it made for an interesting scenario.
“I knew that if I came here and won, that would do it,” Graffunder said. “Other than that, if I was second or third, I would have to have a few spots on both of those guys to have more than 30 [points on them].”
Winning in the desert against guys who’ve grown up racing there is a tall order, but Graffunder was up to the task. While defending series champ Jacob Argubright got the holeshot and put his Rockstar Energy/Bel-Ray Husqvarna Factory Racing Team FC 450 out front, Graffunder wasn’t far behind on his 300 XC. But Burson was also determined to go to the front and passed Argubright for the lead, the Husky racer conceding, “Nick actually passed me, though, a mile out. Gosh, he’s so fast in the open stuff like sprints! I had nothing for him.”
But Burson’s time in front was short-lived.
“I got the lead but crashed at mile five and jacked my hand up so I was riding with two fingers all day. I couldn’t really do anything; I couldn’t hold on and I couldn’t hit stuff hard.”
Unable to push hard, Burson was lucky to maintain a podium spot on his 480 RR instead of the 430 he and teammate Axel Pearson usually choose for the tighter hare scrambles races.
Argubright took over after that and kept the lead the rest of the way for his first win of the series with the number one plate after having spent most of the year on the sidelines recovering from the broken wrist suffered a year ago at the final hare & hound National. It may also be the last time for both him and Graffunder in the series for 2015; Graffunder’s goal was to lock up the title at this race in order to concentrate on EnduroCross (the next round in Boise falling on the same day as the WHS finale in Laughlin, Nevada) and Argubright is getting ready for his wedding to Megan Blackburn, who, incidentally, claimed third in Women A at the Fall Classic.
Burson, Pearson and Coy rounded out the top five, leading Burson and Coy to go into the finale tied for second in points, unofficially, at 142 apiece. Graffunder’s total stands at 177. Pearson split his teammate and Coy with a fourth-place finish. Ryan Smith, FMF 250cc Pro winner Dalton Shirey, EnduroCross specialist Kyle Redmond and FMF 250cc Pros Clayton Gerstner and Nick Stover rounded out the top 10.