Chris Bach was once again the man to beat when the OMA National visited the Brueggeman family farm in rural Plainview, Illinois, for the FAMMX Design Grouch XC. Racers were greeted with dusty conditions on a long course that featured miles of single-track trail and multiple hillclimbs.
Cody Barnes and his privateer Mom and Dad-sponsored Yamaha took the FMF holeshot, leading the dust storm to the woods. Barnes held on for three laps, but he could not hold off the charge of veteran racer Chris Bach. After two and a half hours of racing, Bach and his FMF/RPM Racing KTM 450XCF took the OMA checkered flag first. Mike Witkowski captured second place aboard his FMF/RPM Racing KTM 250F, followed by Barnes. Pro 2 winner Logan Lowrey collected his second consecutive OMA Nationals Pro 2 win aboard the FMF/O’Neal Bone Cutter Beta, earning fourth place overall in the process. Fifth place overall and fourth place in the Pro class went to Fun Mart/Fly Racing Suzuki-mounted Adam Bonneur.
Given the length of the trail and a fast race pace, the Pro riders reached the scoring tent two minutes shy of the one hour and 50-minute white flag mark, pushing the flag up a lap and ensuring a longer race. This one turned in to a two-and-a-half-hour run.
“I thought these things were supposed to be two hours, but the last three we have done have been pushing two and a half every single one,” commented race winner Bach. “It keeps happening. We just barely beat the clock to get the flag. But that’s good. That means we are pushing the pace and everybody is riding good.”
According to Bach, the trail was “super dusty, but luckily today it was not super-hot.”
Barnes controlled the race for the first three laps.
“I got off to a good start, and Chris ended up running me down,” Barnes said. “I believe on the third lap, when we both pitted, Chris got in front of me. A little while after that, Mike was able to catch me. I tried riding with him, but, with the dust, it made it really difficult to not make mistakes. The track was really good. It was a little dusty, but I think the layout was really good. Everything flowed very well.”
Bach added that he and teammate Mike Witkowski both got off to terrible starts.
“On that whole first lap, you are riding, and you can’t really see the ground underneath you,” Bach said. “It’s hard to make quick moves and get up front when you need to. Especially at a single-track race like the OMAs, you need to get up front and make your moves around people and space yourself out. If you get stuck behind the wrong guy at the wrong time it can really ruin your day. It took us both a little bit to get up front. I thought once I got past everybody I was going good, then I caught dust twice, thinking it was Cody [Barnes] up front, and it was two guys I didn’t even know. We must have been really far back.”
It was a quick pit stop by Bach that sealed the deal for the OMA Nationals win.
“He was riding really well,” Bach said of Barnes. “I got him when we both got fuel here in the pits. Then I knew, as long as I was in front of him, I would dust him out, and he’d have to lay up a little bit. Once I got around Cody, I used the dust to my advantage. I even knew with Mike, even if he was pushing it and he caught me, I could use the dust and form a nice little buffer behind me and just control the race from there. Luckily, he didn’t catch me, and I was able to keep the pace up, and actually put a little time in to him at the end there, the last two laps, and come away with the win. The kid beat me last race, and I couldn’t let that happen twice in a row. It was a great track, again. I’m not in the hunt for this championship, but I’m having a blast riding these courses. It was a super fun time. I’m glad that Mike’s doing well. He may have wrapped it up, I don’t know, on the points, but I know he was close. It was a pretty good day for us.”
Witkowski was also able to get past Barnes to take the second spot on the OMA podium.
“It was a good result,” Witkowski said. “I got a terrible start–pretty close to last–and then I was trying to pass and catch up to everyone. Cody kind of checked out in no dust. It was really dusty and tight, so I just tried to make the best of it.”
2017 OMA Nationals
FAMMX Grouch XC
Brueggeman Family Farm
Results: August 5, 2017
1. Chris Bach-KTM (first Pro)
2. Mike Witkowski-KTM
3. Cody Barnes-Yam
4. Logan Lowrey-Bet (first Pro 2)
5. Adam Bonneur-Suz
6. Cody Bollinger-Yam
7. Drake Lineback-KTM
8. Mark Heresco-KTM
9. Steve Leivan-KTM
10. Tommy Fortune Jr.-Yam (first B Class)