Most fans think of Max Gerston as an EnduroCross specialist, but he’s now proven to be more than a one trick pony after taking his first-ever victory in the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.
In fact, the Beta 390 RR rider completely dominated round seven—the Toasted Hare Scramble by the Mt. Baker Motorcycle Club in Bellingham, Washington—taking the lead shortly after the start and gapping the field from there to end up with a winning margin of just over 4 minutes on runner-up Joey Fiasconaro after two and a half hours of racing in the tight Pacific Northwest woods. Joel Tonsgard made the locals proud by taking third in his first race of this caliber, 43 seconds behind Fiasconaro.
Ironically, Gerston felt it was a fairly subdued effort, though that may have worked in his favor.
“Waking up this morning, I felt blah,” Gerston said. “I just wasn’t able to get things going. All the way up to the race and kind of even through the race, I [felt that way. Maybe that’s what did the trick because you couldn’t get greedy out here. You had to take your time and be patient so maybe my patient riding style, I guess, maybe the track suited it a little bit. I guess I was better at riding this stuff than I thought I was!”
After his triumph at the opening round, Gas Gas EC 300-mounted Fiasconaro hasn’t been able to hasn’t been able to recapture that magic, though this might’ve been the breakthrough he sought. He too believed it was best to tone things down for these particular woods.
“It was a different race,” Fiasconaro said. “You couldn’t really ride fast or push or you would make a lot of mistakes. You just had to stay steady and consistent.”
His runner-up finish was more amazing since he was last off the start and made lots of passes on the motocross track before the course ducked into the woods.
As for Tonsgard and his Frank’s Motorbikes Beta 250 RR, the Toasted Hare Scramble was his first time in a National-type race facing so many riders he’d only seen in magazine reports. But he proved more than able to hold his own, saying,
“I got a pretty good start so I just tried to maintain,” Tonsgard said. “I dropped back a little bit then caught back up to Axel [Pearson] and Nick [Burson]. I was like, ‘I’ll just keep pace with them,’ and eventually I got around them and put my head down and charged. It was a lot of fun. It was gnarly, though.”
Gerston’s win vaulted him past defending series champion Burson and back into the points lead, 155-145. After nabbing the holeshot, things went downhill for the Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha-mounted Burson, who took a wrong turn and almost got into head-ons with those who followed him, then wrapped himself around a tree, damaging his radiator and shifter and injuring his torso.
Gerston wasn’t the only first-time winner. Tri-City Cycles Yamaha YZ250F rider Clayton Gerstner worked his way up to victory in the FMF Pro 250 division, finishing a commendable fourth overall after early leader J.T. Baker bent the chain guide and sprocket on his SRT Husqvarna TC 250.
Honda rider Danny Brocker finished fifth overall in his first stab at the series followed by Ryan Turner, the FMF Pro 250 runner-up, Purvines DA8 Racing’s Pearson and Burson, FMF Pro 250 third-place rider Cole Conatser and Open A winner Devin Schueler.
The series now takes a summer break before resuming in September in Jericho, Utah, followed by rounds in Truckee and Wilseyville in California. While Gerston will concentrate more on EnduroCross, he still plans to finish out the series strong, as does Burson, who plans to ride more in the trees to get some practice for those final three rounds.
2017 AMA West Hare Scramble Championship
Toasted Hare Scramble
Mt. Baker Motorcycle Club
Results: June 25, 2017 (Round 7 of 10)
1. Max Gerston-Bet (first Pro/AA)
2. Joey Fiasconaro-KTM
3. Joel Tonsgard-Bet
4. Clayton Gerstner-Yam (first Pro 250)
5. Danny Brocker-Hon
6. Ryan Turner-Yam
7. Axel Pearson-Yam
8. Nick Burson-Yam
9. Cole Conatser-KTM
10. Devin Schueler-Yam (first A Open)
11. Joey Meranto-Hus
12. Kevin Dyck-Hon
13. Travis Redfield-KTM
14. Blake Best-Yam
15. Bradon Adolph-Hus
16. Lochlan Campbell-KTM (first A 250)
17. T.J. Scrupps-KTM
18. Jordan Rock-Yam
19. Blake Deilke-Hus
20. James Sullivan-Yam
For more results, visit www.westharescramble.com