Text by Mark Marrow
Photos by Jacob Souder
The longest, most technical track of the season and tacky, red dirt were the battleground for some very intense racing under the lights in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The stage was set for an epic battle between the contenders, but it was Michael Hicks who stole the show with a commanding 1-1 performance.
There were no big surprises in the heat races with the top four in points all doing well in their heats, but the big news from the heats was seeing Izaih Clark return to form after a night he’d rather forget last week in Arizona. Clark mentioned that he spent the entire week working only on whoops, which were his downfall in AZ, and all of his hard work really showed as he used the whoops to take over the lead on the opening lap of his heat before checking out.
Somehow the action heated up even more in the semis, with Tristin Moffit slicing through the pack, only to crash and hand Jorge Rubalcava the win in the first semi, and with Nicholas Jones putting his YZ250 two-stroke on display up front for a couple laps in the second semi. Austin Roberts, however, would eventually emerge victorious in this one.
When the main attractions rolled around it was Michael Hicks and superstar Kyle Peters staging a fantastic battle for the lead in Pro Main 1 [Note: Hicks is visiting from the General Tire Arenacross Series]. Peters nailed another one of his trademark holeshots, but Hicks stuck to him like glue through the first turn and used superior whoop and corner speed to challenge Peters. Hicks eventually made a pass stick and took off for the win. Kyle Bitterman and Clark were mired early thanks to a traffic jam in turn one, but pushed hard all race to finish just off the podium, which was rounded out by Matthew Curler. Clark and Bitterman went fourth and fifth, respectively.
In Pro Main 2, with an inverted start, it was Clark who got the start he wanted, slotting into third in turn one right behind Wyatt Reimer and Rubalcava. Rubalcava bit it hard in the whoops, which allowed Clark to go after Reimer, and he made it work, taking over the lead halfway through the first lap. Hicks, meanwhile, despite being buried mid-pack in turn one was making moves, and fast—he nailed the long rhythm section to end the first lap right on Clark’s back wheel! The duo battled side-by-side through several turns and were right next to each other through the whoops, with neither willing to give the other an inch. Hicks, however, would hold it on for split second more to make the pass for the lead.
By lap four Hicks was starting to open a gap at the front. Clark’s speed seemed equal in the whoops and turns, but Hicks was using the power of his CRF450R to good effect whenever there was a rhythm section and kept adding air miles every time there were jumps. Peters would eventually catch Clark and followed for a few laps before executing a slick block pass on Clark. Peters put his head down to go after the lead, but Hicks was able to successfully mind the gap to take the win. Peters, Clark, Bitterman, and Curler rounded out the top five.
The intense action slammed the door on anyone thinking the racing might be slightly less exciting without the addition of the riders from Monster Energy AMA Supercross who showed up at the last round. Oklahoma exhibited some of the best racing of the season so far! Hicks showed dominance, but the races were filled with drama, passing, and excitement. Clark was also a source of interest—the Storm Lake Honda rider converted the kryptonite of the previous round to diamonds in Oklahoma by consistently being the fastest rider in the whoops all night. If things continue at this rate, we’re in for a barnburner at round six.