After heavy rains during the week and storm warnings on Friday, some thought promoter Bill Gusse might cancel the OMA Nationals round two Sidi Beaman Monster XC at Patrick O’Neill’s property in rural Sedalia, Missouri, co-sanctioned with Arkansas Cross Country Racing.
However, the word cancel does not exist in the Bill Gusse vocabulary, so, as they say, the show must go on. Come Saturday morning, race day, the track was wet and sloppy, but the sun was out, and conditions were good. This would not be an easy race. The technically challenging, old-school trails were now also very wet and sloppy with Missouri mud, making the roots and rocks a challenge for even the best of riders.
Monty Gusse dropped the green flag, and the combined Pro 1 and Pro 2 front row shot downhill towards the American Flag corner, then uphill to the FMF holeshot line behind Pro 2 racer Cody Bollinger and his Lakewood Electric Yamaha. In to the woods and off on their adventure, numerous battles throughout the classes developed in the slick conditions. Jason Thomas ripped his nimble little Husqvarna 125 two-stroke machine to the lead with the KTM of Mike Witkowski hot on his rear wheel early in the first lap. It was an intense battle for the entire two hours. While Witkowski briefly took the lead after Thomas stopped for gas, the scrappy rider from England re-established his lead and held off the young racer from Indiana for the win.
When the mud settled, after a two-hour battle, it was Jason Thomas and his Power Motorsports Moose Racing Husqvarna 125 edging out the RPM Racing KTM of Mike Witkowski, with a gap of just one second. They were literally shoulder to shoulder after passing the finish line. Witkowski put forth a huge effort, clocking the fastest lap of the day on his final lap, but it was just not enough. Adam Bonneur rounded out the Pro 1 Podium aboard a Fun Mart Cycles Fly Racing Suzuki RM-Z450.
Thomas, who was at the waterlogged GNCC event, decided to hop in the truck with fellow racer and friend Duell Murphy, and have a go at the OMA Nationals “instead of sitting there all day in the rain.” According to Thomas, “Duell Murphy wanted to ride over and carpool, so I decided to come over. It turned out good. The track kind of suited the bike.” He said “I got a good start, went in to the lead, and battled with Mikey (Witkowski) there a little bit, and was able to hold on to the finish there. It was good.”
Mike Witkowski was “super bummed about it” after the race. “I know I could have probably got him somewhere at the end,” said Witkowski, “because I felt like I was riding better. I was kind of cruising. It is just really frustrating, but it is good. It was good practice, and it was fun.”
The close battles also reached in to the Pro 2 class, where Mark Heresco snuck past the Beta 250RR of Alex Witkowski just two laps from the end of the race, and poured it on to finish at the top of Pro 2 and fourth place overall. Heresco said “I stayed back early, then I worked my way to the front later in the race.” According to Heresco, the best race plan is “just take it easy and ride like you know how to.” Witkowski, who finished second in class, did not realize Heresco was passing in class for the lead until it was too late. “When I came through scoring on the white flag lap it said second. I tried to push as hard as I could,” said Witkowski, “and I actually started making more mistakes that last lap instead of going faster.” Duell Murphy, Thomas’ carpool buddy, finished with sixth place overall, completing the Pro 2 podium.
2017 OMA Nationals
Sidi Beaman Monster XC
Patrick O’Neill Property
Results: May 21, 2017
1. Jason Thomas-Hus/Pro 1
2. Mike Witkowski-KTM/Pro 1
3. Adam Bonneur-Suz/Pro 1
4. Mark Heresco-KTM/Pro 2
5. Alex Witkowski-Bet/Pro 2
6. Duell Murphy-KTM/Pro 2
7. Logan Lowrey-Bet/Pro 2
8. Colten Zuidema-KTM/A
9. Steve Leivan-KTM/Pro 1
10. Cody Bollinger-Yam/Pro 2