REM GLEN HELEN RACE REPORT: COUNTDOWN TO V-DAY

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Photos by Debbi Tamietti

1017ortnerAs the World Vet Championship gets closer on the calendar, the intensity in the old classes has heated up considerably. Jon Ortner (10) won the Over-50 Elie class in front of  Ian Fitz-Gibbon, but 51-year-old Grand Prix racer Kurt Nicoll sent a message to the Over-50 class by not only winning the Vet Pro class at REM—but actually winning the combined 450 Pro/Vet Pro class.

This week’s REM motocross had a reduced turnout for two reasons: (1) There was an Old Timer International motocross being held on Glen Helen’s USGP track (which drew away some of REM’s older regulars) and (2) The Monster Cup was in Las Vegas on the same day (although some hardcore motocrossers raced REM and then drove to Las Vegas to watch the Monster Cup).

1017harperAnother rider looking for World Vet gold is former AME number one rider and Hollywood stuntman Will Harper. Harper has been staying sharp by racing both the Over-50 Experts and the Over-60 Experts on the same day at REM. This weekend Will won the Over-60 Experts with a 1-1 and was 4th in the Over-50 Experts with a 5-4. Will is in the running for the Over-60 World title. In other World Vet news, there will be Over-65 classes this year to give the older guys in the class a fairer chance.

But with the World Vet Championship only three weeks away, lots of Over-30, Over-40, Over-50 and Over-60 riders were in attendance in a last ditch effort to fine tune their skills (if 30 years of racing hadn’t done that already).

1017randelRandel Fout went so fast that his Dunlop sticker peeled off.

Most notable of the Vets was Kurt Nicoll. The British rider finished second in the FIM 500 World Championships 4 times, won 13 Grands Prix, was British National Champion 7 times and was on the winning MXDN team in 1994. Although Kurt is over 50, he elected to race the Vet Pro class, which was combined with the 450 Pros (with the Over-50 Elites and Experts).

1017eropkinFormer SoCal 125 Pro Dave Eropkin finally got his new bike and put it to good use with some holeshots in the Over-50 Experts. But a 6-3 day left him with a 3rd overall for his 350SXF’s debut.

Kurt holeshot both motos and held off 450 Pro winner Dominic Desimone for the first half of moto one. In the end Desimone took the Pro victory and Nicoll was second overall and firs in the Vet Pros. In the second moto, Sesimone had a small lead on Nicoll when he faltered in a sections of whoops and Nicoll romped on by to not just win the Vet Pro class, but to cross the finish line first among all of the classes.

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1017gonsalvesvarola45Anthony Gonsalves (33) is back in the saddle and looking good. Anthony won the 85 Intermediate class. That’s Slade Varola (45) in the background.

Jon Ortner won the Over-50 Elite class, but now knows that he doesn’t just have to worry about Doug Dubach at the World Vet, but Kurt Nicoll also. In the Over-50 Experts (the Elites and Experts will be combined into one “Expert” class at the World Vet) was won by Phil Dowell. Phil’s 2-1 beat Ron Shuler’s 1-2, but it took a last lap pass by Dowell to get the victory. Dave Eropkin was third with a 6-3.

1017davidoconnorIreland’s David O’Connor (30) won the Open Vet class, but had to fight with 450 Novices Jeff Carpenter (219) and Daniel D’agostino (55) all the way.

The biggest class of the day was the Over-50 Novices, where Scott Sligar and Mike Hillion traded 2-1 and 1-2 scores with the balance falling in Sligar’s favor. Lonnie Paschal was third with a 3-3 in front of Syd Woods 5-4 and Marc Crosby’s 4-6. Frank Emerson pushed his air-cooled twin-shock Husqvarna CR500 to seventh overall.

1017pashadragoPasha Afshar (L7) chases Drago Atanasovski (345) early in the Over-40 Intermediate race. Pasha’s 6-s would beat Drago’s 3-6 by virtue of a better second moto.

The second biggest class of the day was the Over-50 Intermediates. Robert Pocius was the stand out in the field as his 1-1 bested the 5-2 of Jeff Scott, 4-3 of Eddie Jaramillo and 3-9 of Russell Brown. The heartbreak of the class goes to Paul Fitz-Gibbon who was second in the first moto, but 11th in moto two (only good enough for seventh overall).

1017jeffmasonJeff Mason (459) two-stroked it to 6th in the Over-50 Intermediate class behind Robert Pocius, Jeff Scott, Eddie Jaramillo, Russell Brown and Bill Pawasarat.

This week the breakdown by brands swung to Honda’s favor for the first time in months. Honda’s represented 27% of the bikes at REM with KTM a close second at 25% and Yamaha at 23%. Suzuki was fourth with 14%, Kawasaki fifth with 9 % and Husqvarna had 2%.

1017hallMark Hall went 8-8 in the Over-50 Experts on a Husqvarana FC450, but he spun laps on a friend’s brand-new 2016 KTM 350SXF in practice. It’s nice to have friends.

As you would expect with the World Vet on the horizon (November 7-8), 72% of the riders at REM motocross this weekend were over the age of 30. Broken down by age groups that meant 37% were in the Over-50 classes, 16% in the Over-40 classes, 11% in the Over-60 classes and 9% in the Over-30 classes.

1017chriscolevalChris Cole (45) and Val Tamietti (31) spent a lot of time together in the Over-50 Expert class. Chris went 3-6, while Val went 4-7.

1017bradleycoleBradley Cole (14) was second in the 250 Novice class with a 1-2. Winner Rowdy Soland had a 2-1. Austin Wade was 3rd, Casey Gunzl 4th, Matthew Ward 5th, Nicholas Ziegler 6th, Jared Roundtree 7th and Austin Aguirre 8th.

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1017rollierodriquezRollie Rodriquez (65) and Mike Marion (3) fight over third place in the Over-60 Expert class. Rodriquez took the spot with a 4-3 to Mike’s 3-4. Rollie’s brother, Randy Rodriquez, was the first-ever World Vet Pro Champion back in the 1980s

1017kentreedKent Reed (62) is one of many riders waiting for their 2016 KTM 450SXFs to arrive in the USA. He’s luckier than most because Jody Weisel lent him MXA’s 2016 KTM 450SXF to race until his bike shows up. Kent went 6-6 in the Over-60 Experts.

1017jodyWith 2016 bike testing almost done, MXA’s Jody Weisel took the opportunity to race any bike that he wanted (instead of the one assigned to him). What did he choose? A 2015 KTM 350SXF with a 2011 KTM factory engine in it. But, he only got to race it in one moto before he had to switch bikes to test different suspension. Jody went 7-7 in the Over-60 Experts.

REM races at Glen Helen next Saturday, October 24, on their hillside track and returns again on October 31 for the annual Octobercross event. It will be held on the test layout of the November 7-8 Duhta Sponsored World Vet Motocross Championship. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com

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