|2013 WORCS Round 3 at Crazy Horse
Photos and Text by Seth Fargher,SethFargher.com
The World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) returned to Crazy Horse campground on the shores of Lake Havsu Arizona this past weekend as 65 UTVs lined up in their perspective classes to do battle on what has been deemed one of the roughest, most challenging course on the circuit.
The Lake Havasu round is always a favorite for drivers and teams alike because it usually falls in line with peak Spring Break season, bringing additional spectators and camaraderie to the already exciting event. While the environment at Havasu is preferred over some of the other courses, the track however is not. Over the course of a race weekend the hard packed MX track tends to develop deep pot holes and straight edge whoops while the majority of the rest of the track becomes a one line train track making passing virtually impossible. Golf ball to softball size rock were everywhere making passing, and visibility, all the more difficult.
One of the key features of the track is the infamous lagoon jump. This 40+ foot gap allows a rider to knock between 6-8 seconds off their time if they have the guts to try it. New for this year, WORCS officials decided to leave the Lagoon jump open for all classes throughout the weekend which meant if someone had the cajones to jump it in a side by side, they would have the chance.
WORCS announcer Tim Shelman made sure every side by side driver was aware of the $100 prize and more importantly, the bragging rights, for being the first side by side to try it.
With the wave of the green flag the 995 Dragon FirePolaris RZR XP 900 of Ken Benson shot out of the blocks in the Pro Production class and managed to beat every other racer, including series points leader Beau Baron out of the first turn. Benson had him by several car lengths but Baron would overtake him a few turns into the motocross track.
This Havasu track was very spectator friendly because it was condensed into such a small area. From the start, drivers pass through the MX portion of the track before disappearing into one of two ravines on either side of a plateau that stretched all the way to the beach. Drivers would dip and resurface from either ravine several times until emptying out onto the beach. This short section provided the most rock free portion of the track however deep, and I mean DEEP ruts developed in the sand as the race wore on.
Scoring would once again be conducted on adjusted time as racers left in waves from three separate starting lines. After Baron passed for the lead it seemed as if it might be the same old story as rounds 1 and 2, Baron checking out with everyone else trying to reel him in. That looked to be the case until the final lap when Baron suffered a mechanical issue and was unable to get moving again.
Barons mishap left the door wide open for Ryan Piplic to move into first place and claim his first overall of the season but his excitement was short lived. He managed to blow a belt on the final lap ending his chances of a win. Never let it be said that Ryan Piplic isnt a fighter, thats for sure. After running to his pit, he returned to replace the belt and finish out the final lap to salvage a tenth place finish.
RJ Anderson was another one, not only looking for his first win of the season but also his first finish after mechanical issues plagued him at rounds 1 and 2. Although he wasnt the first one to claim the lagoon jump, (that honor and the cash goes to Doug Eichner) RJ was the only racer jumping the lagoon on every lap allowing him to make up some serious time on the leaders. Even despite a roll over on lap one, RJ was able to flip the car back over, remount and get back on pace to stay within striking distance of the leaders. Unfortunately his efforts were in vain as he too fell victim to the course after a rock sheered a front wheel right off the hub.
With three of the fastest drivers out of the running it opened the door for a slew of new faces to stand atop the Pro Production podium. Muzzys Robert VanBeekum started a row ahead of Anderson and kept a reasonable awareness of his position by keeping an eye on Anderson. I knew RJ was making up time but I also knew he was pushing his car to the limit, said VanBeekum. On the last lap when I started passing other broken down cars and I didnt see RJ, I knew I was near the front.
James Hill was the second racer this season to put the newCan-Am Maverick on the WORCS podium as he finished the race in physical first place. His adjusted time wasnt enough to unseat VanBeekum but Hill was ecstatic with his personal best 2nd place finish. Andrew Berry rounded out the podium of newcomers with a third place spot.
As impressive as the lagoon jump was and the podium full of new faces in the pro production classes, one of the most impressive feats of the day was the 2nd place finish in the Production 850 class by first time racer Sara Price. There arent many women willing to come out and wage war with the boys but Sara charged hard the entire race, earning her the fastest lap of the day in her class. Jake Morton would take the overall ahead of Price in the production 850 Class.
Mitch Guthrie bested the entire Production 1000 class yet again, earning him his third straight victory and now holds the honor of being the only racer to win every round so far this season.
After nearly a month off, racers will venture to the sandy trails and slick rocks of Sand Hollow State park in Hurricane Utah for round 4 of racing action. If we learned anything round 3 its that anything can happen in racing and simply being the fastest guy on the course is no guarantee. Driving smart and consistent can go further in the long run and those who find the right balance are likely to be the ones in the hunt at the end of the season.
WORCS Round 3 Race Results:
2013 WORCS ATV/UTV Schedule: