After three rounds of muddy, slippery, and wet trails at three different venues in Missouri, the OMA Nationals series moved to Iowa for the fourth installment of the 2017 competition calendar. Sweltering heat and hard packed dusty trails greeted the racers at the Lundberg family farm in rural Dayton, Iowa, for the OMA Nationals Rekluse Cyclone XC, co-sanctioned with the Iowa Enduro Riders Association (IERA) and the Midwest Cross Country Series (MXC).
The Pro race started with a wave of the green flag by Monty Gusse, and Cody Barnes rocketed his Fly Racing G2 Mom and Dad-sponsored YZ250 to the head of the pack, collecting the FMF holeshot award. After just over two hours, seven laps of the grueling eight-mile course, Mike Witkowski and his RPM Racing St. Lawrence Radiology KTM crossed through the finish line banner to take the checkered flag first. Chris Bach followed just 12 seconds later aboard his RPM Racing FMF KTM. Barnes rounded out the Pro podium, followed by the Bone Cutter Beta of Pro 2 winner and fourth place overall finisher Logan Lowrey. Adam Bonneur, aboard his Fun Mart Fly Racing Suzuki, took fourth place in the Pro class and fifth overall.
“It was good,” Witkowski said. “Luckily, I got a pretty good start behind Cody (Barnes) and kind of rode behind him until he made a mistake. It was super dusty if you were back in the pack, so I tried to lead as much as I could. When Chris (Bach) did get by me, I tried to make sure I stayed right with him, and actually made a pass back.”
While conditions were rough, Witkowski made the best of what the field was given.
“It was actually a really fun course,” Witkowski said. “I was kind of surprised. A few years ago, I came here and kind of got my butt handed to me. I definitely figured it out today, and it was fun. It’s super exciting to win against good competition. It was a long day, and Chris made it interesting.”
While second place was not the original plan for Chris Bach, the winner of the previous round, the Buck Run XC, said that the event was super fun.
“It was a good day.” Said Bach, who also rides for the RPM Racing team and was happy for his teammate, Witkowski. “It would have been a lot better if I was standing over here [on the winner’s step of the podium]. I obviously would have liked to win, but, from a team aspect, I am super happy with the way Mike rode. He managed the race like a professional today, not like an XC2 guy.”
Recalling his own race, Bach said “it was super hot, for sure. Good course today. Super single track. Real old school enduro or even old school hare scramble. If someone asked you to describe a Bill Gusse course, today would have been it. It was a really good course. I was real happy with it, and I was super happy with my bike. I got a bad start, rode my way up to second, caught Mike and he was riding really well. I tried to make a couple moves on him and couldn’t do it. There were only a couple places on the whole track where you could pass, and he [Witkowski] pretty much had it covered. There really wasn’t a whole lot I could do. I got fuel and lost a bunch of time. I caught back up with him, but I just couldn’t make the move without being really dirty, and there is no need for that. We had a really good battle, and I think we both pushed the pace at the end. I don’t know if I want to go much faster than that.”
Third place Pro rider Cody Barnes said, ”I lead for a little. Then Mike and Chris got around me. They were both riding really good. It was dusty and a little rough. There was a lot of little tree stumps. Once you got out of the dust a little, out on your own, you were able to ride. It had a lot of kind of tight corners around the trees and stuff. I lead for a little. I couldn’t really run with Mike or Bach. It was just so dusty it was hard to follow and not hit stuff and make mistakes.”
Fourth place overall went to hard charging Pro 2 winner Logan Lowrey and his FMF Beta. Lowrey caught a bit of a break on the final lap, as he had been battling the entire race with Pro 2 series leader Mark Heresco. Unfortunately for Heresco, a tough uphill on the last lap was the final push for his machine, and Heresco found himself unable to complete the lap.
“Me and Mark [Heresco] had a really good battle all day,” Lowrey said. “I had a horrible start, and I passed him and built a gap. Then we got in to really nasty lappers, and he got a good line and got me back. I was just kind of hovering there. It was hard to catch him because of all the lappers and dust. I ran him down, and I was right there on him. He went to go up a hill climb, and something just went wrong. I thought, man, a little luck just went our way.”
Round 7 of the 2017 OMA Nationals is scheduled to take place in Plainview, Illinois, August 5.
2017 OMA Nationals
OMA Rekluse Cyclone XC
Iowa Enduro Riders Association
Results: July 16, 2017 (Round 4 of 6)
1. Mike Witkowski-KTM
2. Chris Bach-KTM
3. Cody Barnes-Yam
4. Logan Lowrey-Bet (first Pro 2)
5. Adam Bonneur-Suz
6. Tanner Whipple-KTM (first A Class)
7. Steve Leivan- KTM
8. Brandon Farnum-Yam
9. Colten Zuidema-KTM
10. Tristin Melgoza-Yam