Axel Pearson wins the Laughlin Hare Scramble Challenge; Travis Coy secures second place in series final standings.
Story and Photos By Mark Kariya
For nearly 20 years, the Pearsons have been tough to beat at any off-road motorcycle race held around Laughlin, and Axel Pearson became the latest family member to uphold that tradition when he scored his first major triumph by topping the eighth and final round of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles (WHS) Championship Series near the little Nevada town on the Colorado River.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I had a good day.”
Especially compared to Purvines Racing Beta teammate Nick Burson. Going into the Laughlin Hare Scramble Challenge–co-hosted by the Dark Side Motorcycle Club and Xtreme M.C. for both MRAN and AMRA points–Burson and Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Travis Coy were tied for second place in the series standings (SRT KTM’s Cory Graffunder wrapped up the title at round seven last month and skipped the finale in order to race the GEICO EnduroCross in Boise). The math was simple: Whoever finished higher would net second in points standings while the other man was guaranteed third.
Coy immediately signaled his intentions by rocketing off the start aboard his KTM 300 XC (instead of his usual 450 XC-F), but Burson quickly challenged him.
“Nick got past me early on, but he crashed a couple miles in and I ran into him and went over the bars,” Coy said. “We were both laying on the ground; I got up first and took off and I took off leading. I led the majority of that first lap, and I had to pit [after] the first lap, being on the two-stroke, and I knew he wasn’t going to have to. He got by me there. I knew it was going to be tough to catch him here–he’s a fast desert rider.”
Indeed, it’d take a mechanical issue or an uncharacteristic crash for Burson to lose the lead. That’s just what happened, as Coy recounted.
“I came around on that second lap and I saw someone sitting over on the side [of the trail] and I quickly noticed it was him [Burson],” Coy said. “About that same time I smelled fried clutch. That’s a bummer; Nick’s a good guy and a great competitor and we’ve been going at it all year.”
Up front, Pearson made his presence known on the second lap.
“I got the lead about halfway through the second loop and kind of just cruised from there,” he said.
That was almost his undoing, however, because unbeknownst to him, fellow Nevadan Justin Wallis was closing fast on his Dynamic Dirt Suspension KTM. Due to BLM rules, there could be only 12 riders per row, but this was actually a good move as it spread riders out to let dust clear a little between rows. As this was a timed event, it was possible for someone on a later row to do well, as catching those on the row ahead of you guaranteed you were doing well.
“It was super-dusty.” Wallis said. “I had to take a lot of chances [to catch up to the leaders].”
But it worked out as he ended up just 4 seconds behind Pearson at the finish after nearly 3 hours of racing. Coy settled for third overall a couple minutes back, safely claiming second in the championship. LG Electric Yamaha’s Ryan Smith equaled his best finish of the series by finishing fourth. Jeremy Newton earned the FMF 250cc Pro win and fifth overall in his first series ride followed by Thor Amador, FMF 250cc Pro runner-up Nick Stover, AMRA AA winner Ryan Kudla, and FMF 250cc Pros Mitch Anderson and Clayton Gerstner.
2 (9309 Coy)
Third behind Pearson and Justin Wallis was good enough for early leader Travis Coy to secure second in final series points, aided by rival Nick Burson’s mechanical DNF.
3 (8986 Super Mini Start)
Austin Phillips (5) got the holeshot in the Super Mini row-one start, but series class champ Jon Modena (also 5, right behind Phillips) taking over to win for the fourth time this year. Phillips had issues slow him to 10th in class and 15th overall, but he came back later to overall the Sportsman race as well as win 200cc C.