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Photos by Debbi Tamietti, Dan Alamangos and Kyoshi Becker
After a couple weeks off for the WORCS series and Lucas Oil Offroad Truck Series, REM returned to its familiar haunt with a big crowd of Pro riders and the regular cast of REM mainstays.
The 450 Pro race was the highlight of the day as Zach Bell, Tallon Lafountaine, Dylan Merriam, Dominic Desimone, Justin Muscutt, Brian Medeiros, Shaun Hillion, Kordel Caro, Conner Mullenix and Corey Davy fought it out.
Zach Bell won the first moto with ease on his “Big Six Series” offroad bike, but something happened early in the second moto to his bike to leave him with a 1-7 day. That left the battle up to Talon LaFountain and Dylan Merriam. They dueled for half the moto and then Merriam dropped back to second and gave LaFountain some breathing room. Then, suddenly Merriam closed the gap with a lap to go and gave it his all—Only to come just a few feet short on the step-up/step-over triple at the finish line. LaFountaine’s 3-1 beat Merriam’s 2-2 with Dominic Desimone in third with a 4-3. Zach Bell ended up 7th.
WHO ELSE WAS DOING THE WINNING?
Mini sensation Stilez Robertson is now a 250 Intermediate and made his debut a rousing success with some really impressive lap times.
Kurt Nicoll won the Vet Pro class, but might have finished in the top five of the 450 Pros had he been scored with them. Last weekend at Farleigh Castle in England, Kurt was on the winning VetsMXDN team in that very popular vintage race. Kurt’s next target is the Dubya World Vet Championship on November 4-5 in the Over-40 and Over-50 Expert classes.
Val Tamietti kept his win streak alive for another week. Since January 1, Val has only lost one race in the Over-60 Expert class (and he’s done it all on a YZ250 two-stroke). This week his competition came from Thad Friday (2-1), Joe Pena (4-3), Mike Marion (3-4 and Ken Ehlers (5-5).
MXA’s Jody Weisel won the Over-60 Intermediate class (which was combined with the Over-60 Experts), but seemed muted by the results. “I thought I was in last place the whole time. I even looked back on the last lap to see if anyone was chasing me. There was nobody back there. It kinda takes the fun out of it to win when you think you’re losing.” Brian Martin was second with a 3-2 and Glen Senecal was third.
Bryan Friday made his return to REM racing after his recent surgery. He played it safe on his Kawasaki KX450F, but that was good enough for 3rd overall in the Vet Novice class behind Chris Cole and Mark Taylor.
In the 85 Intermediate class, Italian-built TM 85MXs went 1-2-3-4 with Noah Viney, Noah Gordon, Cole Coker and Dominic Gallager heading up the first TM sweep in REM history.
THE RACING STORY OF THE DAY
A class that everyone watches with great interest at REM is the Over-50 Elite class. The battle in the Over-50 Elite class boiled down, as it does at most REM races, to Jon Ortner versus Luther French. Orter had been assigned a 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450, Yamaha YZ450F and KTM 450SXF as part of his MXA test duties. He elected to race the YZ450F in the first moto. Midway through the first Over-50 Elite moto Jon passed the fast starting Luther French and went on the win. In the second moto, Luther led again from the start and Jon stalked him, this time on the KTM 450SXF. In a particularly nasty uphill section of track, Jon took the roughest line and made it work. Then with a lap to go, Luther found the hot line in the same part of the track. At the the top of the hill they collided—with Luther’s front wheel hitting Ortner’s KTM engine amidship.
Luther fell down and Jon continued on towards the checkered flag. But Jon’s KTM started sputtering. Ortner nursed the KTM 450SXF across the finish line before it died. Here is the strange and amazing part — the finish line is not exactly at the step-up/step-over jump. The transponder wire is located after the spot where the flagman stands (because if he stood where the wire was, he wouldn’t be visible as the rider’s approached the finish jump). Ortner’s bike had died in the 30-foot gap between the checkered flag and the transponder wire. Fans by the fence yelled to him,”Push your bike! Push your bike! The finish is in front you.” Ortner looked at them and looked ahead and saw the red sign that said “Finish Line.” He hopped off and started pushing his bike, just as Luther French came over the jump and caught him about six feet before the wire. Amazingly, Luther slowed down and rode next to Jon Ortner, staying exactly six inches behind Jon until Ortner’s KTM crossed the transponder wire. This gave Jon Ortner a 1-1 day.
It was something that you don’t expect to see from two riders who have an intense rivalry. Luther could have easily blown by the stalled out Ortner and no one would have questioned the victory. True sportsmanship.
What had happened to Ortner’s bike when Luther and he collided? Luther front wheel hit the fuel line on Ortner’s bike and the hose split above the KTM’s quick release. Ortner’s bike had run out of gas, even though the fuel tank had plenty of gas in it — but, when the engine was running, the fuel pump sprayed the fuel out of the split in the gas line instead of into the throttle body.
WHAT THE MXA WRECKING CREW WAS UP TO AT GLEN HELEN
For motorcycle test riders, this is “shootout season.” Recently, more and more shootouts have begun to appear from a wide variety of sources. Most of these shootouts are one- to three-day affairs, where the six manufacturers bring out the bikes, and an assorted and varied group of riders evaluate them. It is tried-and-true method that has been used for years. It is simple to do and all it requires is a couple days to get the chosen rider’s opinions (some intelligent, some colored by brand loyalty, some reflecting unimaginable conflicts of interest and some down-right stupid). But, shootouts are ultimately opinions.
MXA doesn’t do shootouts like that. Oh, don’t get us wrong, we gather all the manufacturers and test riders in one place at one time, but just to shoot a video and some pretty photos. MXA tests motocross bikes by racing them week-in and week-out. We race our test bikes with the same 10 test riders from the day we get them until the day the chosen editor sits down to distill what we have learned.
So this weekend was just another day of racing and testing—but it would actually be the 25th day of 450 shootout testing. On Saturday, most of the MXA test riders raced four motos and switched brand-new 2018 450s between motos. Since they had already raced these bikes in the past, nothing was unfamiliar. These are photos of some of the MXA gang and the bikes they raced. Oh yeah, one more thing. We won’t be doing a shootout until we think we have learned enough to do it right.