Most championships are determined over the course of a season and to win, you have to be there scoring points more than your competitors.Taylor Robert of the FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team illustrated this perfectly in the nine-round as he won four rounds, including the finale, the 67th Annual Check Chase hosted by the Checkers Motorcycle Club at the Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside of Barstow, California.
Taylor Robert closed out the 2017 Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound Championship Series with a win at the 67th annual Check Chase National Hare & Hound. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.[/caption] That gave Robert a total of 184 points for the year—and second place in the championship behind Gary Sutherlin’s 215—because Robert missed two rounds while recovering from life-threatening injuries suffered at King of the Motos.
Sutherlin, on the other hand, was able to ride with less serious injuries and continued to accumulate points all season, never finishing off the podium and winning three rounds. That’s the kind of consistency that wins championships.
The Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha rider wrapped up the title at round eight last month and didn’t even have to show up, making the Check Chase more of a formality and race for pride in those classes where championships had already been decided. And Robert treated it as if the title was on the line, leading basically from start to finish.
“I kept an eye on the guys behind me and they kept me honest the whole time,” he said. “I was surprised for how dusty it was; I felt like I was riding pretty good and I’d be able to gap them in the dust, but they were all riding really good.”
Indeed they were. At first Sutherlin was closest with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Jacob Argubright and 2010 series champ Kendall Norman in easy striking distance during the early going in the Check Chase.
Remarkably, the front four managed to stay close for both the 32-mile first loop and 37-mile second loop, the top three separated by just 25 seconds with Norman a further 35 seconds back in his first National in several years.
The only change happened in the early part of the second loop when Argubright powered past Sutherlin to take second for the third time this year, reaching the finish just 10 seconds after Robert.
“I was just having fun,” Argubright claimed. “I was yelling at people, having fun—I yelled at Gary [when I passed him]. I kind of realized I need to race more like this instead of just overexerting myself charging to the front. It was nice to end it that way.”
Sutherlin shared, “Honestly, I struggled a little bit today in the rocks. I made a couple mistakes at the beginning of the second loop and Jake got by me, and I kind of just reset my head and started pinning it again. We all kind of bunched up and I think we only finished 25 seconds off each other so for being that dusty and being that close was something.”
Despite a near crash when he hit a rock in the final miles while testing his limits and trying to shake off the rust, Norman finished a strong fourth.
Sutherlin’s Purvines DA8 teammates Nick Burson and Axel Pearson were just over seven minutes back for fifth and sixth place. Pearson finishes the season third in points at 155 while Argubright has 144 for fourth, Burson’s 134 putting him fifth.
Chidester Transport Racing YZ250-mounted Tyler Lynn got the FMF Pro 250 win for the fifth time this year and finished seventh overall, an impressive finish for the 17-year-old who won the Super Mini championship just last year.
Perry Concepts Honda’s Travis Damon and Beta’s Joe Wasson were next to see the checkered flag with Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna rider Jake Alvarez rounding out the top 10 overall and claiming second FMF Pro 250 despite riding his TC 125.
With FMF KTM’s Kacy Martinez having wrapped up the Women A championship at the previous round and skipping the finale in order to better prepare for the EnduroCross finale next weekend, Bell Helmets KTM rider Britney Gallegos out dueled training partner Brandy Richards to earn her third win of the season at the Check Chase and finish second in class points.
Ricky Brabec, the 2017 series champ, also elected not to race as he focuses on the Dakar Rally, but he rode out on his works Monster Energy Honda Team CRF450 Rally to watch. He also missed a couple rounds this year with broken bones in his neck and ended up sixth in year-end points with 131, winning three early rounds.
2017 Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series
67th Check Chase National Hare & Hound
Stoddard Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area
Results: October 12, 2017 (Round 9 of 9)
1. Taylor Robert-KTM
2. Jacob Argubright-Hus
3. Gary Sutherlin-Yam
4. Kendall Norman-Hon
5. Nick Burson-Yam
6. Axel Pearson-Yam
7. Tyler Lynn-Yam (first Pro 250)
8. Travis Damon-Hon
9. Joseph Wasson-Bet
10. J.P. Alvarez-Hus
For complete results, visit www.nationalhareandhound.com.