Primm is always a dead engine start and I worked with my mechanic Phil on Friday and Saturday to dial-in my start technique, putting a lot of time into it and feeling very confident in my chances of firing the bike up first kick and grabbing a holeshot; unfortunately, things don’t always go to plan.
As the bikes fell silent, I went through my starting technique and we all awaited the slightest flicker of movement from the green flag to bring our machines to life and unleash them upon the terrain. I was extremely concentrated on the flag, which may have been my undoing, because it took my focus away from getting a good kick through the kick-starter and when the flag flew into the air, my first kick failed to start the bike. It took two more swings of my leg to finally fire up my engine and I headed onto the course near the edge of the top-10.
In the first lap carnage I was able to make a couple quick moves, working up to eighth. I found myself on the rear wheel of Justin Morgan, and after applying a bit of pressure I was able to make my way by. Just after that I found myself behind Travis Coy and down a high-speed straight I had a little smoother line, allowing for more speed and I made my way into sixth position. As the first lap wound down I caught up to the back end of Justin Seeds and as he ducked inside in a corner I held it on around the outside to make the pass and secure fifth position.
For the next few laps I was in no-man’s land with a bit of a gap up to the leading group of Bobby Bonds, Gary Sutherlin, Justin Jones and Eric Yorba. I was feeling pretty good on the bike, but I didn’t seem to have the sprint speed required for me to close the distance. Finally, Eric started to fall back from the lead group and I began applying a bit of pressure, looking for a way by. Around a fast, sweeping left-hand corner Eric made a slight mistake and went wide, allowing me to come up the inside in the following corner, out-brake him and take fourth-place.
It took me a couple more laps to come into contact with Justin Jones and Gary Sutherlin, who were in a heated battle over second-place, but just before the halfway point of the race I had finally closed the gap. My crew made a quick decision to pit me early in the hopes of passing them on the next lap when they both pitted. They got me in and out in a hurry and I rushed out of the pits to close the gap once again, but just after the asphalt pit row I made a huge mistake that would set me back. The pit exit had a cement curb that I would wheelie, followed by a six-foot high dirt bank and in my haste I smacked the curb very hard, sending my feet into the air. I momentarily lost control of my bike and “whiskey-throttled” up the bank, sending me into the air and when I flat-landed on the backside, I ran straight into a dirt mound which sent me to the ground. It wasn’t the most spectacular of crashes, but it did put a halt to the momentum I had been building.
Having lost time in the crash, it took me a couple more laps to catch back up to Justin who was now in third. Justin’s a fighter and wasn’t going to give up third-place easily, but as the course headed down a fast “S” section, I set him up by going outside and then back inside to make the pass.
At this point in the race Bobby Bonds was still out front, but his lead over me had come down from almost a minute at its largest, to just under thirty seconds, and with Gary just around 15 seconds ahead of me, winning the race was still within my grasp. A lap later tragedy struck for Bonds as he went down hard and injured himself, forcing him out of the race; now it was just Gary ahead of me.
I was riding hard, trying to close the gap on Gary, but to his credit he had picked up his pace and was starting to inch away from me. I didn’t want to accept it and tried to push harder, but I started to make mistakes and blew off the course a couple times, losing valuable seconds in the process. With just a couple laps to go I completely lost my chance at the win when I low-sided in a sandy corner and fell. To compound the crash, my motor died and it took me a few kicks to get it fired back up. I tried to keep my pace on the final lap, but another crash set me back yet again and from there I backed it down a little to ride smooth and come across the line in second position.
Looking back on the race, I’m happy with the effort I put into it; I definitely had a few mistakes and can improve on some things, but my body felt good and I feel I’m still building a bit of race intensity. I’d like to thank all of my personal sponsors who are making this year possible: Kawasaki, Precision Concepts, THR Motorsports, MSR, Shoei, SIDI, Spy, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, FMF, BRP, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Northland Motorsports, Alamo Alarm, ATP Mechanix, Jan’s Towing. Thanks to my mechanic “Factory” Phil, my wife and family for supporting me so much.
Coming up next for me is the Best In The Desert Laughlin Hare Scrambles, which is always a fun event. I’ll be teaming up with Ricky Brabec and we’re both going to be looking to get our first win of the season. We’re also going to be doing our best to steer clear of any Cholla cactus; those things suck!
Thank you to each of the team sponsors: Dunlop, FMF, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, Hinson, VP Race Fuels IMS, BRP, Kalgard lubricants, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, AP brakes, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, Zip-Ty, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Seal Savers, Baja Designs, Northland Motorsports