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SOME CAME TO PLAY, SOME TO WORK

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“We love you Tom” A few of Tom White’s friends gather to send him a message of support as he fight cancer. Tom has been in chemo and still managing to race, but this week he had a setback and didn’t come to REM.

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.

Tallon LaFountaine took the 450 Pro win with a 3-1 day.

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.

Dylan Merriam tried to make a last late charge to steal the win away from LaFountaine — he came up short.

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 tocome just a few feet short on the bike 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.

Justin Muscutt (upper left), Tallon LaFountaine (upper right), Shaun Hillion (lower left) and Dennis Stapleton (lower left) are packed like sardines into this step-up jump.

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 Engand, 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.

Zach Bell, once a rising star on the motocross circuit, has been racing offroad races this year. He came to REM to work on his speed. Zach was fast in the first moto, but…

…something happened on the first lap of the second moto and he pulled off to the side to deal with it. By the time he got going again he was way back and ended up with a 7th.

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).

Shaun Hillion (413) chases Connor Mullennix (288) in the 450 Pro class. Hillion went 7-4, while Mullennix had a 6-9 day.

Corey Davy (85) spins out as Matthew Sigler (26) and Stilez Robertson (325) sweep on by.

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.

His minicycle days behind him, Stilez Robertson, is in line for a Pro Circuit ride in the future.

Stilez presses the down button on one of REM’s steep drops.

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.

Val Tamietti (31) and Thad Friday (10) went one-two in the Over-60 Expert class.

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.

Former Saddleback Pro Glen Senecal came to REM for the first time on his all-yellow Yamaha YZ450F.

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.

Mike Marion went 3-4 in the Over-60 Expert class on his silver Yamaha YZ250.

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 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.

Freestyler Mike Metzger (875) got talked into racing at REM by his friends, but after practice he decided that he needed to get a little more saddle time before committing himself to two long motos.

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.

Julien Beaumer (299) won the 85 Expert class. He was one of  five TM minicycles at REM this weekend.

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.

New Zealander James Lavender went 3-2 for second in the Over-40 Expert class. The class included Todd Gravitt ,Dutchman Ralf Schmidt, David Cincott and South African Alan Jullien.

WHAT THE MXA WRECKING CREW WAS UP TO AT GLEN HELEN

Jon Ortner won the first Over-60 Elite moto on a 2018 Yamaha YZ450F.

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 to 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.

And switched to a 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450 for another stint on the track before switching to a KTM 450SXF in the second Over-50 Elite moto.

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. 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.

Dennis Stapleton on a 2018 Husqvarna FC450.

So this weekend was just another day of racing and testing. 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.

Dennis Stapleton on a 2018 Honda CRF450.

Dennis in another moto—this time on a 2018 Suzuki RM-Z450.

Although MXA’s focus was on 450s this weekend, we still managed to spend some quality 250 time. Although, for Ernie Becker (41)  the quality time was only the portion where he wasn’t on the ground.

Jody Weisel raced one moto on a stock KTM 450SXF and one testing Dal Soggio coil spring cartridge forks from N2Dirt.

Hawaiian Pro Brian Medeiros raced one of his four motos on MXA’s 2018 Yamaha YZ450F.

Then, Brian switched back and forth between the Suzuki RM-Z450 and KTM 450SXF (62) for his other motos.

Kordel Caro spent a moto on the Yamaha YZ450F and …

…and a moto on the 2018 Husqvqrana FC450.

REM races again next Saturday, September 30 and on October 7. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com