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Taylor Robert Romps To Utah National Hare & Hound Win

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Despite living in Arizona, FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team’s Taylor Robert doesn’t consider himself a desert racer.

But after the Sage Riders Motorcycle Club’s Rockwell Desert Devotional near Jericho, Utah, round five of the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, he’s certainly riding like one on his 450 XC-F.

It took him only a few miles into the 101-mile race before he found himself in front, and from that point on, there was no catching him, especially after the course left its traditional sand dune section at the beginning and headed into the hills with their rocky gullies and relentless, twisting trails through the trees.

Runner-up and FX 450-mounted Jacob Argubright of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team admitted, “In the open stuff I was catching him; I’ve got my bike really working well. The same with the third loop. We went five, 10 miles of open stuff and I felt really good, then we got into the trees and he rode a little bit better.”

It was a stark contrast to the ride Robert put in six days earlier at the So Cal National where he showed speed early but dropped off the pace and crashed a few times en route to being credited with seventh place in his first National since being seriously injured at King of the Motos not long after round one.

Sitting in the FMF KTM van afterward, he revealed, “As soon as I got into the lead off the start, I was a little worried because it was really fast and virgin [trails through the sand dunes and grassy sand area]—just kind of stuff I don’t like—but then it started getting into the trees and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so much fun!’ and I just started feeling really good. I didn’t really make any mistakes all day except for the last two miles. I lost the course for about 30 seconds or so and I had to turn around and come back to it so that kind of scared me so close to the finish.

“But other than that, I felt good and it feels good to get back up on top that quickly [after my crash a few months ago].”

Interestingly, Robert has raced four Nationals now and won two of them (his first-ever last year in Nevada and this one).

Perhaps just as notable was defending series champ and round-four winner Ricky Brabec not making the trip. After crashing just before the finish at So Cal, the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda ace decided he needed more time to heal from the reported pinched nerve he suffered and thus relinquished the points lead to good friend and training partner Gary Sutherlin.

Admittedly, the Purvines DA8 Racing YZ450FX rider would rather have skipped the Sage Riders race as well due to his growing list of physical woes: The shoulder he dislocated at the WORCS race two weeks ago remained painful, as was the bruised and swollen calf he suffered in a crash at the So Cal National last Sunday. To make matters even worse, on Friday he came down with whatever bug young daughter Emerie had contracted, leaving him a wreck when he putted up to the start line.

Sutherlin declared, “Ricky’s the man and he definitely was the guy to beat so I knew coming in here I just had to be smart. I didn’t get to ride [during the week] the last three weeks, actually, and I didn’t know if I could get my boot on [over my calf today] so I had it as loose as I possibly could and crammed it in, took some Ibuprofen and just went for it.

“I knew the start was crucial so I pulled the holeshot to the flags, but I took a bad line on the double road crossing and Taylor jumped the middle; I jumped too far left and the course went kind of right there and he got by me. I wasn’t pushing very hard off the beginning—I was kind of feeling it all out. I dropped a few spots then kind of worked my way up. This place was brutal!”

The 21 points he got for third place pushed him past Brabec in points, 118-115, with Argubright closing in third at 105. (Coincidentally, Sutherlin leads the WORCS points chase as well.) Sutherlin’s Purvines DA8 teammates Nick Burson and Axel Pearson follow at 82 and 79 points, respectively, after a crash-filled day saw them finish fifth and fourth.

In the FMF Pro 250 class, Chidester Transport Racing YZ250 rider Tyler Lynn picked up the win for the second time in his young career followed by SRT Husqvarna-mounted Morgan Crawford and Burke Barnes on his Barnes Construction YZ250. Lynn stretched his points lead over Braydon Bland (who tallied a rare DNF), 135-91.

Robert’s FMF KTM teammate Kacy Martinez-Coy found the sand dunes unfamiliar territory and promptly got stuck on one of the first ones, putting herself at a big disadvantage off the start.

That allowed Kate’s Real Food KTM-mounted Kate Schade of Idaho to build an early lead, but the part-time racer found herself unable to hold off the factory-backed 250 XC-F rider on the third and final loop, and Martinez-Coy recorded her fourth series victory, stretching her points lead to 145-122 over third-place finisher Britney Gallegos.