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Photos by Debbie Tamietti
In one of the most epic 450 Pro duels of the 2014 REM motocross season, Justin Jones, Zac Commans and Shane McElrath fought tooth and nail for two whole motos —and none of the three were on 450s. In the end, Justin Jones, who had clutch issues in practice with his race bike and had to borrow Jody Weisel’s KTM 350SXF for the races, came away with the win that could have gone any of three ways.
Troy Lee Design’s rider Shane McElrath, who is getting ready to return to the AMA 250 Nationals from an injury, won the first moto with Jones, the son of four-time 250 National Champion Gary Jones, all over him. Each rider had parts of the undulating track that favored them—which resulted in lots of close racing.
Pro Circuit protégé Zac Commans had a bad start in moto one and fought hard to get McElrath and Jones in sight before the checkered flag fell. At the completion of moto one it was McElrath first, Jones second, Commans third, Preston Tilford fourth, Colton Udall fifth and Andreas Ovgaard sixth.
Between motos Justin Jones got some advice on how to race the unfamiliar 350SXF—which consisted of two words, “Don’t shift.” Justin took the advice, started in second gear and never shifted on the way to the first turn. The result? A holeshot! This time Zac Commans got a good start and began pressuring Jones right away, while McElrath was mired in the pack. By the midway point, Shane McElrath joined the front duo to make it a trio. There were passes back and forth between the three, but they would never stick. McElrath would jump by Commans, but Zac would hold the inside line in the next turn and fend Shane off. Meanwhile, Jones opened up a big lead (of approximately 50 feet) and held it to the flag.
Jones’ 2-1 took the victory over McElrath’s 1-3 and Commans 3-2. Preston Tilford was fourth and Baja star Colton Udall was fifth.
THE OTHER BATTLES OF NOTE
The other battle of note was in the extremely competitive Over-50 Elite class where Jon Ortner, Bob Weber, Willy Simons and Shawn Hybarger dueled over dominance. In the end, Ortner took the gold home with a 1-2, while Bob Weber, of 6D helmet fame, was second with a 3-1. What the scores don’t tell you is that Willy Simons was actually the dominant rider of the day. In both motos Willy was leading until he pushed the front end and went down…in the exact same corner both times. Simons miscues left him with a 2-3 score and third overall.
The next step down in the Over-50 Hierarchy at REM is the Over-50 Experts. Val Tamietti, former CMC number one Pro rider from the Saddleback days, took the overall with a 3-1, while Dave Eropkin was second with a 2-2. Amazingly the third place rider, Tony Schuler, had a 5-5 score. How could a 5-5 get third? Because first moto winner Luther French had a 1-9 day, Robert Reisinger backed up his 4th in the second moto with a 12th in moto one, while Phil Dowell did the exact same thing in reverse order with a 12-4. Randy Skinner put together a 14-3 day—Tony Schuler’s 5-5 was the most consistent score in the top ten.
One level down from the Elites and the Experts in the Over-50 food chain is the Over-50 Intermediates. It was equally competitive as Scott Williams used a 4-1 to take the overall victory. Mike Phillips 3-3 got second with Todd Wiseman third with a 5-2. First moto winner Chris Cole had bad luck in moto two and went 1-7 for fifth overall
The Over-50 Novices are part of a massive return of 1970s and 1980s riders back to the sport. In fact, at REM over half of the riders at this week’s race were over the age of 50. Syd Woods used a perfect 1-1 to take the Over-50 Novice class in front of a top ten of Eric Swanson (3-3), Alex Hill (6-2), John Caper (4-4), B.J. Lehn (5-6), Ray Valenzuela (7-5), Robert Pocius (2-11), Mitch Evans (9-7), Chuck Cook (8-8) and Chris Goodman (12-9).
REM does not race next weekend, July 12, because of an offroad truck race at Glen Helen, but will return on July 19. For more info to go www.remsatmx.com