Witkowski Wins OMA Nationals Opener

Mike Witkowski emerges victorious at round of the OMA Nationals cross country series, the SRT Sarge XC in Memphis, Missouri.

Round one of the OMA Nationals 2017 series was held at the Kirkpatrick Family land in rural Memphis, Missouri on May 13. The weather was perfect, and so was the dirt. Rain earlier in the week made for moist and tacky trails that provided a great racing surface. Bill Gusse laid out a nine-mile trail that included some massive, sweeping grass track sections along with tight woods that made everyone work hard for their results.

After sitting out much of 2016 with an injury, Mike Witkowski (282) roared back into the win column at the opening round of the 2017 OMA Nationals, the SRT Sarge XC in Memphis, Missouri, on May 13. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

After taking the holeshot from a combined Pro 1 and Pro 2 starting row, Mike Witkowski kept his RPM Racing KTM on point for all eight laps of the two hours and seventeen minutes of racing. Second place went to the Peterson Chiropractic G2 Yamaha of Cody Barnes, who was hanging it out and pushing hard just behind Witkowski. Moose Racing’s Nick Fahringer battled his Sherco 300 to third place after having some good scraps with the Suzuki of Adam Bonneur, who took fourth in Pro 1, and Pro 2 winner Andrew Smith aboard a KTM 350.

Witkowski, who sat out much of the 2016 season due to an injury, was back with a vengeance. The young racer from North Liberty, Indiana said “today was like an awesome day. The track was like the best we could ever ask for. They (OMA Nationals) put on a good event and it was fun. I got the holeshot and tried to figure out my bike the first few laps. It just started flowing. It was fun, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Cody Barnes continues to display ever-improving talent. Barnes cut the fastest lap of the race en route to a runner-up finish. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

Taking second place behind Witkowski was 2016 Pro 2 season champion Cody Barnes aboard the Fly Racing Fortune Cycles G2 Yamaha YZ250. Barnes was certainly not slacking, and, in fact, he recorded the fastest lap of the race on lap six, bettering Witkowski’s fastest lap by two seconds. “I had fun running with Mike (Witkowski) the first couple laps. I tried to ride smooth and consistent and not make too many mistakes. I crashed a couple times, (but) I’m happy with how I rode, and riding with Mike is definitely what I need to do to get faster.” According to Barnes, “it was a good day.”

While not quite on the same pace as the younger guys, Nick Fahringer and Adam Bonneur also had a great set of laps, with position changes throughout the race. The Moose Racing JRP Sherco 300 of Fahringer held on longer to the race pace and took the final Pro 1 podium position. Fahringer, who is working full time now, said he nearly missed the event. “I found out about this race Thursday night,” said Fahringer. “I drove all night Friday night and I got in about two in the morning. I am just super tired, but it was really fun,” he said. According to Fahringer, “Cody and Mike, they were rolling.” He said,” I tried to battle the first lap, and I thought, I don’t know if this pace is in me. I’m trying to ride when I can, I’ve got this new bike. I ended up settling back with Adam (Bonneur), and we had a good battle for a few laps, and then I think we both kind of got tired. It was fun.”

Former Husqvarna rider Nick Fahringer finished third aboard his Sherco. PHOTO BY JOHN GASSO.

The Pro 2 class started on the same row with Pro 1, which made for some good inter-class battles, including Pro 2 winner Andrew Smith and his KTM 350 squeezing in between Fahringer and the fourth-place Pro 1 Suzuki of Adam Bonneur. Smith said “I had a blast. It’s been about a month since I rode. I’ve got a state race next weekend, and I figured I would come and get some seat time.”

Cody Bollinger, who finished second in the Pro 2 class aboard his Lakewood Electric Yamaha YZ250, said “beautiful weather, beautiful track. It was great. You couldn’t ask for anything better.” While Mark Heresco and the SRT KTM took third place in Pro 2 after he “made a little mistake.” Heresco said “I tried to push my way back. I played it safe the first round. You can’t win the beginning of the year.”

With round one in the books, it is back to Missouri next weekend for round two of the OMA Nationals 2017 series.

2017 OMA Nationals
SRT Sarge XC
Memphis Missouri
Results: May 13, 2017 (Round 1 of 7)

1. Mike Witkowski-KTM (Pro 1)
2. Cody Barnes-Yam (Pro 1)
3. Nick Fahringer-She (Pro 1)
4. Andrew Smith-KTM (Pro 2)
5. Adam Bonneur-Suz (Pro 1)
6. Cody Bollinger-Yam (Pro 2)
7. Mark Heresco-KTM (Pro 2)
8. Steve Leivan-KTM (Pro 1)
9. Logan Lowery-Bet (Pro 2)
10. Beau Malcom-KTM (Pro 2)