Mike Witkowski captures first Pro class win at OMA round two in Missouri.
Story and photos by John Gasso
Mike Witkowski and his RPM Racing KTM emerged victorious after two hours of battle at the Ol’ Sarge XC, round two of the OMA Nationals series, near Memphis, Missouri, Sunday.
Witkowski shined on a race course that became slick and muddy following an early race soaking rain. Fellow RPM Racing KTM rider Drew Higgins took second place, followed by the ARR Husqvarna of Nick Fahringer. Fourth overall went to Pro 2 winner Cody Barnes on the Barnes Family Racing FMF YZ250, followed by fourth place Pro 1 racer Mark Heresco on the SRT Offroad KTM, rounding out the top five.
Located on the Kirkpatrick family compound near Memphis (Missouri) round two of the OMA Nationals 2016 season returned to the classic single race format. Select events this season will not follow the new two-moto format introduced at the Sturgis Buffalo Run, instead returning to the original one hour and 50 minutes-plusone-lap protocol. When the green flag fell on this two-hour race, a storm front dumped rain on the track, making conditions slippery for a bit. When the rain subsided, there was an abundance of Missouri mud sticking to the bikes. Unfortunately for reigning series champion and round one winner Steward Baylor, his SRT/KTM expired after six laps, a victim of caked mud that lead to extreme overheating. Baylor’s misfortune left the door open for \Witkowski to capture his first OMA Nationals Pro victory.
Witkowski and his Motorcycle Superstores KTM battled early with the Fun Mart Suzuki of Adam Bonneur, Baylor, and fellow RPM Racing KTM of Drew Higgins. Bonneur crashed and re-injured his recent shoulder dislocation, dropping out at lap four. The race was now firmly in the grasp of Witkowski and teammate Drew Higgins, and they were beginning to pull a gap on the field. After eight laps in two hours and 17 minutes, the KTM pair had gapped the third place Airgroup Racing Husqvarna of Nick Fahringer by two minutes.
“I am so pumped to get my first victory,” said Witkowski, who started racing a few years back running a 65cc bike in the OMA Nationals series. “To see guys like Paul Whibley and Stew (Baylor) win these, I mean, it’s really cool to get my first win. I’m going to give him (Baylor) a run for his money the rest of the rounds, and hopefully I can get this championship, but I know he’s going to be a good competitor, and it sucked to see him have bike issues today, but it was good fun, and there are a lot more good races coming.”
In the Pro 2 class, Barnes was flat out flying, taking fourth place overall and gapping his nearest Pro 2 competitor, Duell Murphy on an Obermeyer/MCS Racing Suzuki, by three minutes. The Pro 2 podium was rounded out by Alex Witkowski aboard the Fly Racing Beta 250 RR.
“I had a lot of fun today. Even after it rained and it made it slick,” Barnes said. “I was just having fun out in the mud. I just felt good all day and I didn’t make any major mistakes. I crashed a couple times in the slick stuff, but, besides that, it was an awesome day.”
Ol’ Sarge XC
Kirkpatrick Family Compound
Results: May 8, 2016
1. Mike Witkowski-KTM/Pro 1
2. Drew Higgins-KTM/Pro 1
3. Nick Fahringer-Hus/Pro 1
4. Cody Barnes-Yam/Pro 2
5. Mark Heresco-KTM/Pro 2
6. Duell Murphy-Suz/Pro 2
7. Alex Witkowski-Bet/Pro 2
8. Steve Leivan-KTM/Pro 1
9. Andrew Smith-KTM/Pro 2
10. Dalton Brough-Hon/Pro 2