Text by Mark Morrow
Photos by Jacob Souder
Kyle Peters had a textbook perfect evening, winning all three of his races at the big and technical Guthrie, Oklahoma, track for the sixth round of the AMA Arenacross Championship. He started the evening off with a commanding win in his heat race which he led from start to finish. Kyle Bitterman, Izaih Clark, and Jared Lesher also won their respective heat races with little or no drama.
In the main events it may have been Peters who took the wins, but it was Lesher who provided most of the excitement as he railed whoops and jumps on his yz250 two stroke, thrilling fans with multiple come-from-behind finishes. Even his heat race was more exciting than the others as he battled with fast starter Matthew Curler for two laps before making a clean pass in the rhythm section and pulling away for a comfortable win. Clark also showed a little excitement in his heat race when he uncorked a bold triple-quad-triple through the rhythm section that no one else attempted all night. He only did it one time but the notice had been served that he would be ready to use that in the race.
There was a new format in the 1v1 this week with the addition of a third rider and a significantly larger payout. Lesher wasn’t the first racer into turn one, but he was the first one out and never looked back as he checked out and took the majority of the prize money, leaving the other two to fight over the scraps.
Kyle Bitterman Jacob Souder Kyle Peters Jacob Souder _E1A2529 Jacob Souder Kyle Peters Jacob Souder _E1A2250 Jacob Souder Kyle Peters Jacob Souder Kyle Bitterman Jacob Souder Kyle Peters Jacob Souder Tristan Moffit Jacob Souder Levi Campbell Jacob Souder Jared Lesher Jacob Souder Kyle Peters Jacob Souder
There was plenty of excitement early in the first main event, as Peters and Bitterman both made quick work of fast starters Curler and Tristin Moffit. Clark had issues and went down hard and was slow to remount, finally getting back on track two laps down where he circulated slowly for the remainder of the race. Lesher had a mediocre start but kept the excitement high as he started working his way through the pack, eager to catch the leaders.
Up front Bitterman looked like he might have the speed to run with Peters but then had a small mistake, which gave Peters a little breathing room. It took four laps for Lesher to work his way up to third, but by then the front two had too much of a gap for him to overcome. All three riders were close enough that any one of them would be in trouble if they made a mistake, but all three rode clean for the second half of the race for an uneventful finish. Curler and Moffit rounded out the top five.
Without a doubt, the most exciting race of the night was the second main event. In spite of his second row gate from the inverted start, Bitterman had the start of the night and had the perfect line through the first two turns, taking over the lead before they had even gotten past the whoops! Peters and Lesher also had very good first laps but were a little farther back. At the end of the first lap it was Bitterman, Aaron Seminoe, Lesher, Lane Allison, and Peters.
Bitterman put his head down and pushed hard to get away up front, but Lesher and Peters were both riding very well, putting themselves into podium positions before the end of the third lap. Peters caught Lesher on lap five, pressured him for a lap, then got by on lap six, immediately latching onto Bitterman’s rear wheel. A small error by Lesher created some breathing room for Peters, but he regrouped and pushed to get back in the battle for the lead. Bitterman was riding great and refused to be intimidated when Peters showed him a wheel a few times, but he started riding defensively, which eventually opened the door.
Peters made the pass for the lead on lap eight and held it to the finish. Lesher and Bitterman battled hard behind Peters for the last two laps. It came down to the wire, but Lesher finally got by with one corner to go, finishing second and leaving Bitterman to settle for third. Allison brought it home in 4th and Curler rounded out the top 5.
Even though qualifying was fairly predictable, there was some really great racing in both mains, especially the last one. When the dust has settled, Peters had put on another clinic, but he ended up having to work very hard for his wins all night. Both Lesher and Bitterman put in amazing rides to round out the podium in both mains. Sadly, Iziah Clark didn’t make the start in the second main, causing his championship hopes to slip even farther from his grasp. Hopefully he heals up this week and can bring his A-game to the next round.