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Jacob Argubright, Dante Oliveira Split Wins At AMA West Region ISDE Qualifier Opener

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Dante Oliveira learns quickly. The FMF/RPM Racing/KTM Maxxis rider has done some riding in the desert outside of Red Mountain, California, but he’d never really explored the Wagon Wheel Off-Highway Vehicle Area where the Lost Coyotes Motorcycle Club hosted round 1 of the AMA West Region ISDE Qualifier Series. (It also served as round 2 of the AMA District 37 Sprint Enduro Racing Series.)

After doing well in his ISDE debut last year in Chile, Oliveira hopes to qualify for this year’s team headed to Portugal and he got things started with a 3-1 weekend at the series opener on his 350 XC-F. Based on total times for the two days, though, Off-road Support/TBT Racing Kawasaki privateer Jacob Argubright came out on top, going 1-2.

Unofficially, that gives the KX450 rider 39 points, Oliveira right behind at 38 as they vie for one of the spots on the five US Club teams in Portugal. The top seven from both East and West Region Qualifiers will earn spots on the team, with several others chosen by the AMA ISDE Advisory Committee which will also select athletes for the World Trophy, Junior World Trophy, and Women’s World Trophy teams.

“It was a little tricky the first day because all the [tests] were virgin [trail] and I was one of the first guys through it,” Oliveira. “But as the day went on, it got better. It was an awesome course; I had a blast. There was a lot of technical stuff and the first [test] was killer—it was super fast, more grass-track style. I felt like a rode a lot better [on Sunday].”

After winning the first day by more than two minutes, Argubright found himself seven seconds slower than Oliveira on Sunday but was satisfied to come out ahead on points and total time in a form of racing that’s very new to him.

“I’m going to do most of the District sprint enduros and then I want to do the ISDE,” he said. “I did the first [District sprint enduro] just to see how everything would go and now I’m here and making a push for it [at the Qualifier].” (He finished second to Johnny Campbell Racing [JCR] Honda’s Trevor Stewart at that first District race.) “This one’s like normal desert for me—it’s nothing new,” he continued. “I’m more excited for the [upcoming two rounds in] Idaho or [Nevada] because that’s out of my element, per se. I know I’m good here, but the other places we’ll see how good I am [out of my element].”

While he’s had success in other facets of off-road racing—he won the 2014 AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series, after all—becoming a more versatile rider will only help him, not only in qualifying for the US ISDE team but, perhaps, also making it more likely to reach a long-range goal of competing in rallies. He added, “I’m out here too to get faster at sprinting because I was never that good at it.” (Not surprising since most of his races take two or three hours.)

Like Oliveira, GasGas factory rider JT Baker doesn’t have much desert experience, but he came out blazing on his XC 300 on both days before being overtaken to settle for a 2-4 weekend, though that did give him the Letter of Intent (LOI) E3 win.

Third overall on Sunday went to Purvines Racing Yamaha’s Nick Burson who came out just for the day to collect District desert points and ended up first Heavyweight AA.

Position Rider Brand
1 Dante Oliveira KTM
2 Jacob Argubright Kawasaki
3 Nick Burson Yamaha
4 JT Baker GasGas
5 Axel Pearson Yamaha
6 Clay Hengeveld Kawasaki
7 Trevor Stewart Honda
8 Josh Knight KTM
9 Austin Serpa KTM
10 Preston Campbell Honda