The WORCS race is getting pretty popular right off the start with almost 50 entrants signing up for a close competition.
Monster Energy Kawasaki off-road racers kicked-off the opening rounds of the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) ATV/UTV season at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., and the AMA Hare and Hound series in Lucerne Valley, Calif. At the WORCS UTV season opener, Muzzy’s Kawasaki driver Dan Kelly powered his Kawasaki Teryx to the top of the podium in the SXS Production 850 class with fellow Teryx drivers David Lytle in second and Funco Kawasaki’s Garrett George in fifth. In the SXS Production 1000 class, Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor George finished 10th while Muzzy’s Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Robert VanBeekum blew a tire while leading the pack and had to pull off the track. At the Hare and Hound opener, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Destry Abbott was on course to grab a podium finish, but problems late in the race left him finishing fourth.
After a series of storms inundated the track at Glen Helen Raceway with more water than it could absorb, racers knew the opening round of the WORCS ATV season would be nothing short of a mug bog. Muzzy’s Kawasaki pilot Kelly came into the weekend with a single goal, to just finish the 45-minute race, regardless of position. When the gate dropped Kelly nailed the holeshot and led wire-to-wire to take the win in the SXS Production 850 class.
Battling through the tight and congested course, Kawasaki Teryx driver Lytle commanded the runner-up spot on the podium in the SXS Production 850 class not far behind Kelly. Rounding out the top-five was Funco Kawasaki’s Garrett George. After the first round of competition, Kawasaki drivers took home three of the top five spots in the SXS Production 850 class.
“The WORCS series has always had a great following,” said Kawasaki’s Senior Manager of Racing Reid Nordin. “Since they began UTV racing and now they’re adopting ISA (International Side X Side Association) rules, we expect the UTV counts will continue to increase. We want to compete against the best UTVs out there. If this last weekend was any indication of the future of the series, WORCS is the place to be. I really think ATV owners are troopers, they want to compete against the best, and that is where Kawasaki wants to be as well.”
The George family’s Funco factory race teams have been expanding every year and are well on their way to becoming a racing dynasty. While Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Chad George has made a name for himself and his family in the Championship Off Road Racing Series (CORR) and Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS) picking up four-consecutive championships in his Teryx, his cousins are looking to take over the WORCS ATV/UTV series. For the 2012 race season, Funco will be competing in two classes with Garrett George in the SXS Production 850 class and Taylor George running the SXS Production 1000 class.
“We knew this mud bog race would not be about horsepower, it was more about endurance,” said Funco Team Owner Grant George. “Our strategy going into the WORCS series was different from our LOORRS strategy. In the WORCS it’s more about preparation and skilled driving versus flat-out horsepower. Right now the WORCS series is the only place we can go race and get a good run for our money. There were almost 50 entrants in the first round of the WORCS, so it’s definitely a more competitive environment, and that’s exactly where we want to be.”
In her first-ever WORCS race, Funco Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor George finished 10th in a stacked field of racers. Driving a modified version of the high-horsepower Teryx Chad George ran in the LOORRS, her finesse behind the wheel coupled with the UTV’s powerful CNG-prepped Kawasaki V-twin engine, makes Taylor a top contender in the series.
In the SXS Production 1000 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s VanBeekum was dealt a third-row start for the main event and knew making passes on 20 UTVs in front of him on the one-lined, muddy course was going to be a challenge. In the main event, VanBeekum got a good start and put on a serious charge. He found a couple of places to make moves and went to work weaving around competitors. By the halfway point he had moved through a field of more than 20 racers and pulled into the lead. However, a flat tire eventually forced him off the track and out of the race early.
“I almost grabbed the holeshot, but slid out of the corner and recovered in third,” said VanBeekum. “I was moving pretty good through the course the first few laps. Since the tops of the whoops were still dry I was able to make a lot of passes in that section. By the fourth or fifth lap I had more than 300 pounds of mud on the Teryx and was bottoming out on the whoops. I ended up passing over 20 racers to take the lead, but then halfway through the race I blew a tire and that was it.”
Destry Abbott opened the throttle to try to get through the second loop of the Hare and Hound but losing the course and a missing rear brake put him in fourth just missing the podium.
Not far from the WORCS race at Glen Helen, the first round of the Hare and Hound also got underway with Kawasaki KX450F riders looking to bring home some hardware from the desert. The race consisted of two loops, the first being a 20-mile technical loop, and the second being a 40-mile high-speed loop. Kawasaki rider David Pearson landed on the podium in second place and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Abbott powered his new 2012 KX450F through the hills of Lucerne Valley OHV to finish fourth.
“I got a great start, but after the bomb run I kind of lost the course for a minute and dropped back to third,” said Abbott. “The first loop was pretty fun, not too fast and not too technical. The second loop was super-fast and there were several times I had the throttle wide-open on my Monster Energy Kawasaki. With 30 miles to go in the second loop I lost my rear brake. I had to back off the throttle a little and settle for fourth.”
Three weeks prior to the Hare and Hound season opener, Abbott picked up a brand-new 2012 KX450Fand got it dialed for the desert. Abbott immediately clicked with the new bike, and his blinding speed across the open desert was a testament to his level of comfort. Following the race, GPS data showed Abbott reached nearly 100 miles per hour on the bike as he blasted through the open desert.
“The bike really suits me well,” said Abbott. “It was the first time I rode the 2012 KX450F in the desert, and I was really impressed. It handled even better and turned better than my bike last year. I felt really confident and comfortable on the bike. For only having the bike three weeks I was really surprised how strong I felt on it.”
2012 World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) ATV/UTV – Round 1
Glen Helen Raceway – San Bernardino, Calif.
January 21-22, 2012
SXS Production 850 Class Results
1. DAN KELLY, MUZZY’S KAWASAKI
2. DAVID LYTLE, KAWASAKI
3. Kyle Melville, Polaris
4. Alfredo Ramirez, Polaris
5. GARRETT GEORGE, FUNCO KAWASAKI
Hare & Hound Results
2012 AMA National Hare and Hound Series – Round 1
Lucerne Valley, Calif.
January 22, 2012
Pro Class Results
1. Kurt Caselli, KTM
2. DAVID PEARSON, KAWASAKI
3. David Kamo,
4. DESTRY ABBOTT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
5. JUSTIN MORROW, KAWASAKI