Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert Claims the Overall at Glen Helen
Irvine, Calif. (January 15, 2012) – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Off Road team kicked off the start of the 2012 World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) season with Taylor Robert taking the Round One overall victory at Glen Helen Raceway in Devore, Calif. The two-day event saw Robert run away with the win on Saturday and settle for second on Sunday to finish first overall. The newest member of the team Bobby Garrison, remained consistent all weekend to take fourth overall, after going 4-4. Justin Soulé rounded out the top-five after having a weekend that started much better than it ended, going 3-5 over the weekend.
Last time the series stopped at the Glen Helen, Robert lead every lap of both races, so it was no surprise to see the No. 33 Monster Energy Kawasaki KX™450F out front over the weekend. Robert came flying out of the gate for the first 60-minute plus one lap race on Saturday and would round the first turn in second position. The leaders quickly started to inch away from the field as they battled the tricky Glen Helen course. The course included both of Glen Helen’s motocross tracks and an endurocross track all looped together. On lap four, Robert got a run on the leader heading up the largest of the course’s picturesque hills. He took over the lead and showed the raw power of his Kawasaki. Robert was able to maintain a six second gap on second all the way to the checkered flag.
Setting the Pace
Carrying his momentum into Sunday, Robert got the holeshot, but was quickly shuffled back to second. Again, the top two riders would immediately start gapping the rest of the field, running a blistering pace that recorded lap times 10 seconds faster than the previous day. Once halfway, Robert jumped into the lead and started to pull away until a mistake in the endurocross section allowed the second place rider to reclaim the lead.
“Once I got back going I was about ten seconds back and couldn’t quite close the gap,” said Robert. “I was trying to find a place to make up time, but it was hard because we were running the exact same lines. I didn’t want to risk the overall so I just tried to stay consistent and the gap stayed the same until the end.”
Robert’s second on Sunday earned him first overall for the weekend and the points lead to start the season.
On paper it may look as though Garrison had a very boring weekend finishing 4-4 in the races and fourth overall, but his weekend was far from boring. In his first race with Monster Energy Kawasaki, Garrison would get a great start to come out right behind teammate Robert, but he couldn’t match the pace of the leaders. Garrison would pit first of his teammates, setting him back to fourth, but once the leaders pitted he was back within striking distance of third place. On the last lap, Garrison was wheel-to-wheel for third, but would come up short.
“I got off to a great start and starting pushing hard to stay with Taylor (Robert),” said Garrison. “I tried to sprint with him but couldn’t quite run his pace and I started to tighten up. I’ve been feeling really sick all day, but I’m happy with my finish and just really excited to be part of the team.”
Difficult Track Conditions
It only took one lap of practice Saturday morning for the riders and track workers to discover a problem. A ridgeline section at the top of the track could not be reached by the water truck and was creating so much dust that the riders immediately deemed it “un-raceable” and dangerous. The officials agreed and took out the section, but track conditions were an issue all weekend for Soulé. He would start Saturday’s race up front with teammates Robert and Garrison and latch on to the tail of the leaders. Soulé and Garrison would battle back and forth for the majority of the race. Eventually Soulé put some time between him and Garrison and began closing in on second while posting the fastest lap time of the race. A last lap mistake would nearly put him on the ground, but Soulé recovered right in front of his teammate and would hold him off to finish third.
“I had a couple of really good battles for third, but would have liked to catch up to the leaders,” said Soulé. “I started struggling with the track towards the end of the race which almost cost me third place. Tomorrow will be a longer moto so I’m looking forward to staying strong until the end.”
Mind over Matter
Garrison arrived Sunday feeling better after a good night’s rest and was ready for the 90-minute race. A poor jump out of the gate put Garrison in 12th as he rounded the first lap. With time on his side, he started making his way through the pack and in the closing laps could see teammate Soulé in fourth. Garrison made the pass on his teammate and immediately started looking for third, but would have to settle for another fourth-place finish.
“After hovering over the toilet for a couple hours last night, I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go,” said Garrison. “But I felt much better today than yesterday. By the first couple laps I felt really good and started picking off guys. I liked the longer moto better, those extra couple laps went a long way especially since I didn’t make it into fourth until near the end.”
After the struggles he faced late in Saturday’s race, Soulé decided to make some changes to his set up for Sunday where he battled within the top five for the entire 90 minutes. Soulé would finish fifth on Sunday to go fifth overall.
“Today was tough,” said Soulé. “We made some changes after Saturday’s race which didn’t end up helping us at all and I struggled to put consistent laps together. The team was great this weekend and we all made it out safe and healthy so I’m looking forward to the next round and hoping to show my full potential.”
Teamwork Pays Off
With a new rider and a couple new faces on team, the Monster Energy Kawasaki was evidently the most prepared and professional team in the pits. Together the team worked flawlessly, providing quick and efficient pit stops for the riders, giving them confidence and track position. Throughout the weekend, all three riders made up time in their pit stops where the competition normally loses time.
The 2012 WORCS series takes a four week break with racing resuming February 11-12 just outside Buffalo Bills Casino in Primm, Nev. The track is a favorite amongst all riders especially Garrison, who won both races last year and will be looking to repeat.
“I really like Primm,” said Garrison. “I have a track that I practice on that has identical conditions, so I know my bike will be set up perfect and my training will be ideal.”
“Primm is a really fun track,” said Robert. “I was right with Bobby (Garrison) last year so I’m looking forward to it. We get to pit in the parking lot of the casino as well, so it makes for a cool atmosphere.”
The fourth member of the team Destry Abbott, also kicked off his 2012 season with a second place finish at the Soboba Grand Prix in San Jacinto, Calif. For 2012, Abbott will be competing in various races throughout the year including WORCS and Hare & Hound instead of a complete series.
“The race was over two hours and once I got up into second I started feeling really good on the new 2012 Kawasaki KX450F,” said Abbott. “The course reminded me of racing in Europe with tons of different obstacles. There wasn’t one part that spectators weren’t lining the fence cheering you on, it was so much fun. I rode a bone stock 2012 Kawasaki KX450F with my race suspension, and I can honestly say it is the best bike I’ve ever ridden.”
Abbott is also considered a mentor to the young riders and even made it to Glen Helen on Saturday to cheer on his teammates and see Robert take the win, even though he had a race of his own on Sunday.
2012 World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) - Round 1
Glen Helen Raceway – Devore, Calif.
January 14-15, 2012
1. TAYLOR ROBERT, SCOTTDALE, ARIZ., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (1-2)
2. Mike Brown, Bluff city, Tenn., KTM (2-3)
3. Kyle Summers, Florissant, Colo., Yamaha (5-1)
4. BOBBY GARRISON, HESPERIA, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (4-4)
5. JUSTIN SOULÉ, VICTORVILLE, CALIF., MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI (3-5)
6. ROBBY BELL, SUN CITY, CALIF., KAWASAKI (6-6)
7. RYAN ABBATOYE, RIDGECREST, CALIF., KAWASAKI (7-7)
8. Ross Neely, Chester, Calif., Yamaha (9-9)
9. GARY SUTHERLIN, BAKERSFIELD, CALIF., KAWASAKI (11-10)
10. Kailub Russel, Boonville, N.C., KTM (13-9)