CORONA, Calif. – Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Ricky Dietrich, trailing teammate Damon Huffman by 11 points heading into this past weekend’s 2008 AMA/Maxxis EnduroCross Series round in Columbus, Ohio, took over the series points lead with a 3rd place podium finish in the main event, coupled with an unfortunate number of breaks for Huffman as he failed to qualify for the main.
Along with Monster Energy/Kawasaki teammate Destry Abbott, the two boulder sections on the Columbus EnduroCross track would be the source of great discourse for all three riders on Saturday as they ran into difficulties amongst the loosely-piled rocks ranging in size from a football to a washing machine. Dietrich failed to qualify out of his heat race and was forced to a semi, as was Huffman and Abbott.
Dietrich then stepped up and won his semi in great battle with western U.S. off road racing great Ty Davis.
With the LCQ looming, Huffman, the series points leader heading into the action at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University, entered his semi contest after suffering a grotesquely dislocated finger in a slow speed wreck in one of the two tricky rock sections in his heat race. Race medics put Huffman’s finger back into place and the gritty veteran of many supercross and outdoor national MX races got right back into the mix, having to grip the bars in a painful two more races (semi and LCQ). Unfortunately neither Huffman nor Abbott would get out of their semis – both having to contest a third race (LCQ).
In the LCQ, Huffman pulled the holeshot and battled early with Kawasaki Team Green racer James Lanza. On the white flag lap Huffman was in a position to challenge for the only transfer spot to the main when he got a bit forward on his bike and tipped over in the elevated rock section – finishing his night.
“Tough luck for Damon, but I’m sure he’ll be back for Vegas,” said Lanza in some words of encouragement. Abbott failed to win the LCQ as well and was there to cheer on Dietrich in the main event.
In the main Dietrich pulled the holeshot and rode spectacular early.
He tripled the finish line jump – which the landing puts his front tire about 12 feet from a hip-high log he’d have to hit straight on.
But, with a possible $50,000 Triple Crown bonus on the line from the series promoters and sponsors, Dietrich was for sure charging hard.
Also on his mind was the fact that Huffman was on the sidelines, so he didn’t want to jeopardize anything in terms of the overall points chase – to which he’d have the lead if he could keep things on two wheels.
“Yeah, the $50,000 bonus was on my mind a bit, but I didn’t let it get in the way of finishing the race or crashing out,” said Dietrich, who would have had to sweep Oklahoma (which he won), Columbus and Vegas to win the 50 grand.
By lap four rival Taddy Blazusiak had caught up to Dietrich and took the lead. Dietrich also gave up a spot (2nd) to trials expert Geoff Aaron, who rode the rock portions better than anyone on Saturday.
Solidly in 3rd, Dietrich finished out the race in strong a strong and consistent fashion to score the overall podium and take a ten-point lead over Huffman, 111-101, with one round remaining (Vegas, Nov. 22).
“A course like this definitely favored the trials riders,” said Dietrich. “I got the lead because our Monster/Kawasakis make a bunch of horsepower and usually puts me or Damon out front. Then I made a couple mistakes that those who ride the technical stuff better took advantage of. It was definitely the most technical track we’ve seen all year.
“But I’ll come to Vegas with a big smile on my face and hopefully win the No. 1 plate!”
Next up for Monster Energy riders on the AMA/Maxxis EnduroCross Championship tour – with Monster Energy being the “official” energy drink of EnduroCross – is this weekend the Nov. 22 finals at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.