Ricky Russell was hotter than the extreme heat and humidity that greeted the racers on the Brueggman family farm near Plainview, Illinois for round five of the Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals (OMA), the Grouch XC, on August 7.
The event was scheduled ran the series’ shorter format, which featured two 45-minute off-road motos, and with the a heat index of well over one hundred degrees, the shorter stints enabled the riders to re-hydrate and cool down between motos. On a Bill Gusse trail system that many riders called the tightest and most technical track they have ridden in a long time, the rest period was a welcome relief.
The MCS Obermeyer Suzuki-mounted Russell grabbed the first moto win with a 19-second gap over RPM KTM’s Mike Witkowski, who took home another KTM holeshot award. Nick Fahringer brought his ARR Moose Racing Huqvarna in for third place just 15 seconds behind Witkowski, followed by Witkowski’s Motorcycle Superstores KTM teammate Drew Higgins and SRT KTM’s Steward Baylor.
“I just rode my own race,” Russell said. “The first moto I was able to get to the lead. I made a few mistakes. Me and Mike [Witkowski] were going back and forth. He was riding good. I had one pretty big get off towards the end, but I was able to bring it in for the win first moto.”
In the Pro 2 class Cody Barnes put his Gieson Motorsports Fly Racing Yamaha on point for the first-moto win. Colt Converse and Jeremy Smith finishes second and third respectively. Kyleer Vance finished in fourth place, followed by Drake Lineback.
Moto number 2 saw Baylor push harder to leapfrog the field and take the moto win, giving him the third spot on the overall podium. Russell followed Baylor to the checkers just 10 seconds back to secure the overall win. Third place in the moto netted Witkowski second overall for the event. Fahringer and Higgins followed in fourth and fifth place respectively in the moto, taking the same respective spots in the event overall.
“The second moto I was riding like a pissed-off teenager,” Baylor said. “I hit the woods like fourth or fifth, and I made passes quickly. I had all my lines picked out, and I wasn’t backing off. The first moto I had a lot of good lines, and I had the front tire on a lot of people. I just didn’t stay with it. You know, I was playing it safe. The second moto I was riding mad the whole day. Once I got a 10 to 12-second gap, I just tried to maintain it. I tried to not make any mistakes.”
In the second moto, Russell noted that he got off to a poor start, putting him behind a few riders.
“Stew (Baylor) got to the front real quick,” Russell said. “He was riding like a mad man. He got away, and once I got to second, I tried to creep up on him. I got kind of close, but he was riding real good. It’s hot out, and I knew I needed to just bring it in for second to at least get that first overall and not make any mistakes to end my day.”
Barnes once again topped the Pro 2 second moto and took home the class win while also earning eighth place overall. Lineback edged out Smith by just three seconds to grab second place in the moto, but Smith earned second place in the Pro 2 overall due to his 3-3 finish results. Lineback would end up third overall in class with his 5-2 performance.
2016 Off Road Motorcycle and ATV Nationals (OMA)
Brueggman Family Farm
Results: August 9, 2016 (Round 5 of 6)
1. Ricky Russell-Suz
2. Mike Witkowski-KTM
3. Steward Baylor-KTM
4. Nick Fahringer-Hus
5. Drew Higgins-KTM
6. Adam Bonneur-Suz
7. Harrison Helmick-KTM
8. Cody Barnes-Yam (Pro 2 winner)
9. Steve Leivan-KTM
10. Jeremy Smith-Yam (Pro 2 runner-up)