WORCS Race Report: Round 1

January 20, 2008: Speed World MX Park, Phoenix, AZ

2008 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) got off to a great start this weekend at the Speed World MX Park in Arizona. The course incorporated the National Track featuring high-speed sections, technical sections, table tops, doubles, step-ups, rhythm sections, and excellent use of natural terrain as well as a long desert loop and a radical Endurocross section for the Pro classes.

Kurt Caselli

The new factory and privateer teams came out in force for the WORCS opener. Red Bull/KTM’s Kurt Caselli was sporting his new #1 plate for the first time while team-mate Justin Soule carried #6, Caselli’s old number from 2007. Team FMF Suzuki Off-Road now has #2 Nathan Woods under their banner (Mike Kiedrowski and Ryan Hughes both retired at the end of last season). Team Monster Energy/Kawasaki returned with Destry Abbott, 2006 Champion-Ricky Dietrich and added former Supercross factory star Damon Huffman to their roster. Team Zip-Ty had a change of sponsorship and is now Zip-Ty Malcolm Smith Motorsports with #5 Bobby Garrison as the lead rider. And Honda’s 2008 WORCS effort is headed by Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) with #3 Robby Bell as their flagship rider. Among the privateers the most impressive in Pro Practice was Bobby Bonds, who showed up looking lean, strong, hungry and fast for the new season on a privateer Kawasaki.

When the flag dropped, JCR/Honda’s Tim Weigand pulled an amazing holeshot followed by Caselli and Bonds. Weigand was so stoked to get the holeshot that he almost immediately tensed up. He was able to hold the lead for most of the first lap, but massive arm pump caused him to start dropping back. Arm pump, blisters, and a few bobbles and two hours later Weigand would eventually finish 18th. “But it was a really fun first lap,” said Weigand later.

Meanwhile, Bonds had everyone on their feet as he moved into the lead and set a blistering pace that had him leading by more than 30 seconds when the race was only 15 minutes old. Hot on his heels was a pack that included Woods, Caselli, Abbott, Bell, Huffman, and Dietrich. At the finish of the second lap, the pros approached the Endurocross section for the first time and carnage ensued. Bonds danced through cleanly. Then Woods, who had moved into second, stalled in the tires and could not relight his RM-Z450 until 10 more riders had passed him. Then Weigand went down in the rocks, Abbot took over second by running the Endurocross gauntlet cleanly and Caselli came through in third. Kyle Summers, riding a privateer KTM, also cleaned the Endurocross section and joined the lead pack of riders.

Nathan Woods

As the race wore on Bonds continued to be the dominant rider for the first hour, with Caselli settling into second where the veteran WORCS champion is habitually most comfortable until the second hour of the race. The battle for third kept changing hands every time the racers came through the Endurocross section.

In the closing laps, Bonds was still running strong, but Caselli was whittling away at the gap. He made his move on the white flag lap, taking over the lead from Bonds just minutes before the checkered flag. Caselli took the season opener with Bonds second and Summers third. Huffman came in a strong fourth with Woods (who had suffered a flat tire and endured a two minute pit stop to change the rear wheel) fifth. Bell, Garrison, Abbott, Brenden Ritzman, and Dietrich rounded out the top ten.

Pro 2 action saw Taylor Robert open the new season with a hard fought victory over Nick Brozovich and Ryan Abbatoye.