Rural Dayton, Iowa, was the location selected as round four of the OMA Nationals series. The June 10 race played out under clear skies and moderate temperatures, and the pit area was packed with racers.
The series points battle was heating up in Pro 1, and it would be great day of racing through the woods of northwest Iowa. With current points leader Mike Witkowski out of commission due to a recent race injury, reigning series champion Steward Baylor and his SRT Offroad KTM had an opportunity to recapture the Pro 1 class series points lead.
When Monty Gusse dropped the green flag the bikes roared to life, and Nick Fahringer took the FMF holeshot award with his Airgroup Radiant Racing Moose Racing Husqvarna TE300, leading the pack off on their adventure through the woods. Fahringer led much of the race, but a mistake late in the event opened the door for Baylor. After seven laps in 2 hours and 20 minutes of racing, Baylor topped Fahringer by 44 seconds for the win. Fahringer would take home a well-deserved second place, followed by Drew Higgins aboard the Motorcycle Superstore KTM.
Cody Barnes and his Barnes Family Racing Gieson Motorsports G2 Yamaha took the Pro 2 holeshot, and he maintained a comfortable lead until the final lap. Jeremy Smith, who just returned to racing after some time off with a knee injury, was pushing his PR2 Klotz Yamaha YZ250 hard, keeping the pressure on Barnes. Smith captured the lead briefly after Barnes collided with a lapped rider in the last mile of the race. Unfortunately for Smith, his lead was short lived. Just a few hundred yards from the finish line he caught a tree after a lapped rider switched up lines in front of him, allowing Barnes to regain the lead and take the win by just 3 seconds. Barnes and Smith also took fourth and fifth overall respectively, edging out fourth place Pro 1 rider Adam Bonneur, who rode the final two laps without front brakes on his Fun Mart Fly Racing Suzuki.
“I was stoked to get a holeshot,” Fahringer said. “My bike’s been a little slow all year. I haven’t been able to hang with the guys on the straightaway. I did some tinkering this week, and I took some time off to rest. I felt solid on the bike. I was just flowing all day, feeling good, having fun, and pumped to be leading and have a shot at winning a race. I got a little extra caught up behind a lapper just going slow down a hill, and all of a sudden I hear Stew (Baylor) ripping up behind me. We had some traffic in some of the gnarlier creek sections, and there was a climb, and a guy stuck. There was a kid standing there, and I tried to squeeze by the stuck guy and the kid. The guy moved, I fell down, and kicked the kid down the hill. I got moving and tried to catch up to Stew, and I stuck it in the next hole. That was pretty much, I think, the gap that Stew put on me.”
With Fahringer off on a mission after the holeshot, Baylor had his work cut out for him chasing down the flying Husqvarna. Things became even more difficult after the trio of Baylor, fellow SRT Offroad rider Mark Heresco, and Higgins followed a course marker on a sapling that had been run over and twisted out of place. A trip up a hill to nowhere had them back tracking to regain connection to the pack ahead of them on the trail. Shortly after reconnecting with the pack Baylor said he watched Mark Heresco “yard sale it.”
“I stopped to make sure he was all right,” Baylor said. “He wasn’t moving, and it was ugly.” “After that I got some clear track ahead of me and just worked my way through the guys. Drew (Higgins) and I rode together a couple laps. Me and (Adam) Bonneur rode a couple laps together. Then Nick (Fahringer) and I got together until he got stuck.” Baylor said “There was a lapper that was kind of sprawled out going up the hill. He (Fahringer) bumped him and went down, and when he hit him, it knocked him back over, so I had a clear line. From there on it was just smooth and consistent. It was one of those tracks where you could get ahead of yourself, and it was really tough to get around lappers out there.
Making sure you didn’t make those little mistakes was tough to do today. It was fun. Luckily I put my bike on the box and took back over the points lead here.”
Heresco made a visit to the EMT’s and was sent home with a reported hyper-extended arm.
Pro 2 points leader Cody Barnes increased his lead in the series points battle at this race, but it was not an easy victory. Barnes had a good race with Jeremy Smith, who kept the pressure on the seventeen-year-old speed demon all day.
“It was good,” Barnes said. “The track was kind of tight. I was a little cautious the first lap and everyone was kind of close. Then I was able to pull away a little. I stopped for gas, and then I messed up on one of the hills and Jeremy (Smith) caught me. Then me and him just battled I think basically the last four laps. It came down to this final little woods section. There was a lapper in front of me, and he checked up and I crashed, and Jeremy got around me. Then right before the finish Jeremy battled with a lapper that messed him up too. He (Smith) crashed and I got back around him. It wasn’t the lapper’s fault. We were going for the win, and we were both pushing each other.”
Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) Nationals
Sidi Cyclone XC
Results: July 10, 2016 (Round 4 of 6)
1. Steward Baylor-KTM
2. Nick Fahringer-Hus
3. Drew Higgins-KTM
4. Adam Bonneur-Suz
5. Mark Heresco-KTM
1. Cody Barnes-KTM
2. Jeremy Smith-Yam
3. Kyleer Vance-Hus
4. Jon McMillan-Yam
5. Teddy Maier-KTM