After a total of seven inches of rain fell in three days on the Robert Miller farm in rural Newark, Missouri, the OMA Nationals team still managed to put together a challenging course for the Buck Run XC presented by DP Brakes.
The event was also co-sanctioned with the folks from the IERA, and a large crowd of bikes lined for this Missouri mud fest. After two hours and twenty-two minutes, Chris Bach and his RPM KTM FMF Klim 450 XC-F crossed the OMA Nationals finish line with a five-minute gap over second place, his RPM KTM teammate Mike Witkowski. Cody Barnes and his Mom and Dad sponsored Peterson Chiropractic Fly Racing G2 Yamaha followed, one minute later, to complete the Pro podium.
Pro 2 class winner Mark Heresco put his SRT Offroad KTM through the finish line next, collecting fourth place overall with a time that was eleven minutes longer than Chris Bach’s two hour and twenty-two-minute mark. Heresco was followed by the Fun Mart Cycles Fly Racing Suzuki of Adam Bonneur, who claimed fourth place in the Pro class, and was the last rider to complete seven laps of the course. Bonneur’s time was two hours and forty-four minutes.
Cody Bollinger and the Lakewood Electric backed Yamaha were one lap down from the leaders, taking second place in the Pro 2 class, while Yamaha mounted Brandon Forrster completed the Pro 2 podium just seconds behind Bollinger. As a side note, nearly half of the riders who started this race were many laps down at the end. Of the nearly ninety starters, only fifty managed more than one lap of the gnarly and technically challenging trail.
After the race, Chris Bach jokingly remarked that the trail was “moist.”
“It was definitely a bit wet,” Bach said. “It actually wasn’t that bad though. It was super tacky, single track, one rut stuff. The bottoms were a little nasty, but it was pretty good.” After a back and forth battle with his RPM Racing teammate Mike Witkowski, Bach indicated that a mistake by the younger racer was the turning point in their race. “Just after half way he (Witkowski) made a pretty big mistake on one of the more technical hill climbs, and had to give it another go. He had to go back to the bottom, turn around, and come back up. So, once I didn’t hear him behind me, I was able to put my head down, and I pushed a little bit and got myself a pretty comfortable gap.” Bach said “it was definitely challenging. I was actually quite surprised that the other guys were out there circulating on the last lap. It was not an easy course and not an easy day for racing, that’s for sure. I really want to thank you guys for putting on an awesome track. It’s been a few years since I’ve been out. I had a blast today. I know it was challenging, but I had a lot of fun riding my motorcycle, so I thank you for that.”
While second place was not what Mike Witkowski was shooting for, the series points leader was happy with his day.
“The first half was pretty good,” recalled Witkowski. “Me and Chris (Bach) hooked up and rode together. Then I made a mistake on a hill and had to go back down. He got away, so that was kind of how my day went. After that I just struggled. It was tough. It was really one line, and I really wore myself out towards the end. But, it was fun. It was challenging, for sure.”
Cody Barnes also had a good day except for an incident mid-race.
“Around the fourth lap, once Mike and them got pulled away, I was still feeling good,” recalled the young privateer from Illinois. “But, I ended up crushing my pinkie. It really hurt to hold on, and the vibration of the bike really bothered me. But, after that lap, it kind of felt a little better. It got numb and I was able to ride a little better. That one lap it really messed with me.” Barnes said “the course was good. It was slippery, but once we found ourselves in the ruts and stuff, it was good. You could really get in some of the spots and go pretty fast. But, there was also some technical hills and stuff. It was a good day. I think the OMA did a good job setting up the track for what they had and the conditions that they had.”
Pro 2 winner, Mark Heresco prides himself on his ability to keep a clear head and think about race strategy. The Pennsylvania racer rode smart all race, minimizing mistakes and continually moving forward in the pack.
“It was a good time,” he said “I enjoyed it. You’ve got to hang back and figure out what you are doing. Each mistake is a big one, so you try to make less mistakes.” Heresco said the track was “good, fun, muddy, a little dangerous, but a good time.”
Rounding out the top five, Morrison, Illinois based Adam Bonneur and his Fly Racing Fun Mart G2 Suzuki started well, then had a mishap on the trail.
“I followed these clowns for about a lap and a half,” said Bonneur, referring to his racing friends in the lead pack. “Then my front tire caught a log laying the wrong way and put me in to about a twelve-inch maple tree out there. I got real up close and personal – kissed it with the front of my helmet. I broke a handguard and kind of gathered myself and took a few deep breathes. This humidity and heat kind of zaps it out of you. I was just trying to have a fun day, and I haven’t struggled that bad in a long time. I really did struggle today. Mainly the dirt, with it being hard and slick and then some of it being sticky and tacky, it definitely kept you on your toes.”
2017 OMA Nationals
OMA DP Brakes Buck Run
Results: June 18, 2017
- Chris Bach-KTM
- Mike Witkowski-KTM
- Cody Barnes Yam
- Mark Heresco KTM (first Pro 2)
- Adam Bonneur-Suz
- Cody Bollinger-Yam
- Brandon Forrster-Yam
- Colten Zuidema-KTM (first A Class)
- Bryan Johnson-Kaw
- Andrew Smith-KTM