SRT Off-Road KTM’s Steward Baylor gets a much needed win at the OMA Moonshine XC in Newark, Missouri.
Story and photos by John Gasso
The OMA Nationals Moonshine XC, round three of the Offroad Motorcycle and ATV Nationals, was held in rural Newark, Missouri with warm and dry conditions, a contrast to years past at the facility known for significant challenges related to rain and flooding.
This event saw reigning series champion Steward Baylor and his SRT Offroad KTM desperately looking for a Pro class win after failing to finish the round two event due to a mechanical failure. Baylor’s prime adversary once again was current series points leader Mike Witkowski and his RPM Racing FMF KTM. Fresh off a win at round one, Witkowski was eager to give Baylor another run. Meanwhile in Pro2, Cody Barnes looked to extend his dominance of the class aboard his Mom and Dad sponsored Gieson Motorsports G2 Yamaha, but Duell Murphy had his sights set on the target on Barnes’ back. With this event following the new two moto format, there would surely be some intense battles on the track.
Witkowski once again rocketed to the front of the pack, grabbing the FMF holeshot and keeping his perfect holeshot string intact. The rest of the Pro 1 pack followed Witkowski, with Baylor trailing the group after what he called “a terrible start.” Shortly into the first lap, Witkowski missed a course marker and found himself back to third position.
“The first moto I took a wrong turn and went to third,” Witkowski said. “It was (Nick) Fahringer, Stew (Baylor), and me.”
That mistake gave Baylor just what he needed to get back in the hunt for the lead. Charging hard and gaining confidence in his trusty two-stroke with every mile, Baylor managed to get the lead and finish a mere two seconds ahead of Witkowski. Adam Bonneur and his Fun Mart Suzuki RMZ450, the only four-stroke machine in the Pro 1 class today, picked up third place with a 3-second margin over ARR Moose Racing Husqvarna’s Fahringer. Mark Heresco and Steve Leivan rounded out the Pro 1 class, both aboard KTM machines.
The Pro 2 class start saw Cody Barnes rocket to the lead, a position he would lose and then regain during the race due to “a couple mistakes,” finishing fifth overall and 18 seconds ahead of Duell Murphy and his Obermeier Suzuki Fly Racing RMZ450. Third place in the moto was captured by Mike Witkowski’s older brother, Alex, who was aboard an MX Parts Now Beta.
After a short break, moto two went off with nearly the same results. Holeshot king Mike Witkowski again took the lead, but this time it would be tougher to keep an edge on Baylor.
“The second moto went a little better,” Baylor said. “I got off to a better start. I kept my momentum going forward, and once I got in the lead I just put my head down. I really felt good on that two-stroke. I haven’t put enough time on it, but by that second moto I was back home, you could say. A solid day all in all, and I am happy with the results. I just really needed to get a win here. I came out tightening the points back up, but Mike (Witkowski) still has a slight lead. I’ll keep chasing him for the rest of the season, and hopefully we can keep mixing it up.”
The balance of the class finished their race in the same order as moto 1, making it Baylor 1-1, Mike Witkowski 2-2, Bonneur 3-3, Fahringer 4-4, Heresco 5-5, and Leivan 6-6 for the day.
The second moto for Pro 2 was a rough one for Duell Murphy, as he went down in the first corner, recovered, and continued to struggle in the woods while trying to catch the pack. Murphy would have to settle for seventh place in the moto and fifth in class for the day. Meanwhile, Cody Barnes was on another good ride, taking the moto win by one minute and 46 seconds over Alex Witkowski, cementing Barnes’ class victory for the day. Kyleer Vance brought his Husqvarna in for third place in the moto, but Colt Converse ended up with third in the class for the day based on his 4-4 results, which were better than Vance’s 6-3 scores.
Off-Road Motorcycle and ATV (OMA) Nationals
Results: June 5, 2016 (Round 3 of 6)
Pro 1 Overall
1. Steward Baylor 1-1 KTM
2. Mike Witkowski 2-2 KTM
3. Adam Bonneur 3-3 Suz
4. Nick Fahringer 4-4 Hus
5. Mark Heresco 5-5 KTM
6. Steve Leivan 6-6 KTM
Pro 2 Overall
1. Cody Barnes 1-1 Yam
2. Alex Witkowski 3-2 KTM
3. Colt Converse 4-4 Yam
4. Kyleer Vance 6-3 Hus
5. Duell Murphy 2-7 Suz