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Photos by Dan Alamangos, Debbi Tamietti and Jon Ortner
Two things are on the minds of the motocross racers at this week’s REM motocross at Glen Helen.
First, after a series that started back in January, and only has six races left (after 34 completed), the racers want to get to the end of the points chase. REM counts points at each and every race, and the riders are ranked accordingly. Even if a rider isn’t in the running for the number 1 plate or a Top Ten award, they want to beat their friends and enemies in the overall placings. And with only a few races left, the battle for the number one plate at Glen Helen is still in doubt
Second, the World Vet Motocross Championships are only two weeks away, and while it means that REM will take the week off for that race, it doesn’t mean that the REM racers will do so too. A large percentage of REM’s Over-30, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 motocross will be at the World Vet on November 5-6.
And, because next week’s REM Octobercross race, will be held on the World Vet track (also known as the National track or USGP track), it is considered an excellent opportunity to get adapted to the layout. Thus, this week’s race was a precursor to next’s week’s World Vet warm-up, which of course, is prep for the World Vet Motocross Championships two weeks from now.
Now you might be tempted to think that prepping for the big race in two weeks is only something that the Over-30, Over-40 and Over-50 Pros and Experts care about, but that isn’t true. World Vet fever runs down through the Intermediate and Novices classes. And there are even European motocrossers flying in a week early to race the REM Octobercross to become more familiar with the rough and tumble Glen Helen circuit.
Battles raged in every class this weekend. And, even though the track layout hadn’t changed much since the last REM race, it presented its own unique challenges. The bumps were somehow bigger, ruts longer and pace quicker.
Even in the oldest age groups, it was intense as the Over-40 Experts, Over-50 Experts and Over-60 Expert classes were won with 2-1 scores—often not resolved until the last lap of the first moto. Billy Mercier took the Over-40 Pro win with a 2-1 over Alan Jullien’s 1-3 and James Lavenders’ 3-2.
In the Over-50 Elite class Jon Ortner took the overall victory with a 2-1, but Luther French, who won the first moto, never gave Ortner any breathing room in the second moto. The two riders ran side-by-side up the hills and often split lappers with Ortner going to the left and French to the right. In the end, Ortner held the lead when it counted.
The Over-60 Expert class was a battle royale between Jim Latendresse and Will Harper. Harper won the first moto, even though he was momentarily passed by Latendresse on the last lap. And Harper led the second moto until late in the race when his bike suddenly slowed. Before it cleaned out and ran again, Latendresse had pounced on by to get a 2-1 to Harper’s 1-2.
The Pro races weren’t as tension filled — as Mike Sleeter won the both motos of the 450 Pros, as did Willy Simons Jr. in the 250 Pros and Kurt Nicoll in the Vet Pros. The only real excitement came when Willy Simons caught and passed Sleeter in the first moto and pulled away to win the combined scoring. Unfortunately for Simons, he couldn’t get to Sleeter in the second moto.
In the Intermediate classes Conner Mullennix (250 Int.), Ralf Schmidt (Over-40 Int.), Dave Eropkin (Over-50 Int.) and Mark Donaldson (Over-60 Int.) were the best of the bunch.
The three biggest classes of the day were the Over-50 Novices, Over-60s and Vet Novices. The bike breakdown was 34% KTMs, 24% Yamahas, 21% Hondas, 9% Huskys, 8% Kawasakis, 5% Suzukis and 3% TMs.
REMAINING 2016 REM RACES
Oct. 29…Glen Helen, CA (USGP track)
Nov. 5.. No race (World Vet Championship)
Nov 12…Glen Helen, CA
Nov. 19…Glen Helen, CA
Nov. 26…No race (Day in the Dirt)
Dec. 3….Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 10…Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 17…Glen Helen, CA
Dec. 25…No race (Christmas Day)
Dec. 31…No race (New Year’s Eve)
REM races again next weekend October 29 for the Annual Octobercross (formerly known as the Commotion By The Ocean when it was held at Carlsbad). For more info go to www.remsatmx.com