WHS Shasta Dam Grand Prix: Hart Finds Redemption

Endurocross rider Trystan Hart finds his bearings in the 2017 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series with a win at Shasta Dam.

Motivation takes many forms and for Canadian cross-country/AMA EnduroCross specialist Trystan Hart. Prior to Sunday’s 2017 Shasta Dam Grand Prix, it came in the form of embarrassment for subpar results making him want to prove they weren’t true indicators of what he’s capable of.

2017 Shasta Dam GP
EnduroCross rider Trystan Hart knew he could do better than the eighth and ninth he’d tallied at the previous two rounds so he made a third drive to California and won the Shasta Dam GP for his first win of the season. However, he’s unsure if he’ll follow the rest of the series, having missed the first round. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

The SRT Husqvarna FX 350 rider finished eighth at the muddy second round of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series at Coalinga, California, and followed that up with ninth in the unfamiliar going at round three in Gorman, California.

That made it an easy decision to drive to Shasta Lake, California, for round four: the Redding Dirt Riders’ Shasta Dam Grand Prix at the Chappie-Shasta Off-HIghway Vehicle (OHV) Area.

“Gorman was not my style; I wasn’t into that at all,” he confided. “Since I did so bad there, I wanted redemption so I came here because I knew this one was going to be tighter.”

Indeed it was; the Redding Dirt Riders laid out a 19-mile-long course that utilized lots of the park’s rocky two-track criss-crossing the brushy hills there as well as new single-track they’d cut plus a stretch of pavement to make it a true GP and not just your normal hare scrambles.

2017 Shasta Dam GP
The SRT team enjoyed a double victory day with J.T. Baker taking his third FMF Pro 250 win of the season, leading from start to finish over eventual runner-up Dillon Sheppard and third-place Calum Campbell. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.
The first hour or so of the race (which also served as round seven of the AMA District 36 SRT Championship Cross-country Series, Presented by Works Connection, and the AMA D-36 Motion Pro Championship Youth Cross-country Series, Presented by Racer Decal, saw several others taking the lead, among them holeshot winner Devan Bolin, Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha’s Nick Burson and Beta’s Max Gerston.

However, none were able to keep pace with Hart once he got into his rhythm.

“I’ve never been one to be crazy off the start and just hammer everyone, so I got in my groove and on the second lap I started picking people off and that’s just how I do it normally,” the eventual winner explained after leading from the second lap to the checkered flag at the end of four circuits.

In doing so, he became the fourth different winner this season after missing the first round, though he’s unsure if he’ll contest the entire season.

After a somewhat yo-yo first hour where he went from first to seventh, current series champ Burson settled into a rhythm himself, with only Hart and Gerston in front of him.

“I just put my head down and decided I couldn’t have another bad race so I tried to just cruise through the trees and just pin it in stuff that suits me better,” Burson said.

After closing on Gerston, YZ450FX-mounted Burson finally saw his chance when the Beta 390 RR rider slid out just before taking the white flag. From there, the champ managed to ease away to claim second on the day, moving him into the series points lead with 81, unofficially.

Gerston held on to claim third, giving him 79 points, followed by Gray Area KTM’s Bolin.

2017 Shasta Dam GP
Big Wheel winner Kyle Kerling made his series debut impressive, moving into the lead early and establishing a comfortable gap over eventual runner-up Logan McChesney and third-place Mason Matthies, who remains the series points leader. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

From there, results will remain unofficial pending the outcome of a protest filed by previous points leader Joey Fiasconaro against Ty Tremaine. Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Tremaine was fifth to the checkered flag with IRC Tires Gas Gas rider Fiasconaro sixth, so when the AMA makes a decision on the protest will determine if Fiasconaro alone is second in points with 80 or if he’s tied with Gerston at 79.

At any rate, Gerston was buoyed by his stint at the front of the pack in the early going: “I’ve been knowing that I can get out front all year and I know I can get out front and win one so it was kind of more like, ‘Finally!’ I’m where I belong and where I should be! ” he shared. “So I’m like, ‘Cool’ I’m going to put down a pace so nobody can follow me’ and I tried to put down a pace. Next thing you know, you’ve got this little Trystan Hart fellow coming up on me hard and I’m like, ‘What got into this guy?’ And I kind of conveniently tipped over and he went right by me.”

Justin Bonita took his new YZ450F to seventh followed by Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha YZ250FX-mounted Axel Pearson, SRT KTM’s Steven Godman and SRT Husqvarna’s J.T. Baker, the FMF Pro 250 winner for the third time this season.