|2013 WORCS Round 5 at Honolulu Hills, CA
Photos and Text by Seth Fargher,SethFargher.com
WORCS fans were in for treat this past weekend at the fifth stop of the World Off-Road Championship series. The series returned to Taft California for yet another hot, dry and incredibly dusty round of off-road racing.
Taft is a unique track set in the hills outside of Bakersfield California among a sea of oil wells. The track itself is actually run on a network of access roads and canyons that snake up and down some pretty large hills. The lower portion of the track has one of the coolest MX tracks of the series, complete with some big table tops and one huge step up that is impressive for a bike or a quad and almost unthinkable for a side by side.
After finally securing a win in Utah, RJ Anderson was eager to stand atop the podium again, maybe even more so in Taft because it was here that he lost the championship points battle a year ago. In a heroic finish, after losing the forward drive in his Polaris RZR, Anderson drove almost the entire last lap of the race in reverse to secure a second place position for the season.
The Taft course would play in the favor of those drivers with high horsepower engines as much of the course was built like a freeway. High-speed wide open sections and long hills that sapped just about every ounce of horsepower by the time many racers made it to the top. I spoke with Ryan Piplic before the race and he felt he might be at a slight disadvantage compared to some of the other more built cars out there, but then again, anything can happen in WORCS.
With a wave of the green flag, RJ Anderson shot out of the gate and was the first one down the longer than usual starting line. Beau Baron and Ryan Piplic would fall in behind and the three racers would separate themselves from the rest of the pack for the majority of the race.
Despite feeling underpowered, Piplic managed to match the pace of both Baron and Anderson until the mounting bracket on his radiator gave way on the second lap. After seeing the steam he knew he had to call it quits or lose the motor so he reluctantly idled his way back to the pits.
Piplics misfortune opened the door for Can-Ams James Hill to move into podium position and it looked like Hill would earn his second podium of the season until he snapped a tie rod bolt near the end of the race. It didnt stop him completely but he fell off pace and unfortunately went from almost a guaranteed 3rd place to 12th.
By the time Hill began having trouble with his front end, Keenan Rogerson, a relatively unheard of name on the WORCS series was able to move himself into 3rd position. Rogerson had made a steady push forward, starting the race in 9th and steadily gained ground until taking over 3rd place behind Anderson and Baron.
Most of the WORCS side by side racers will agree, if RJ Anderson can keep the car together, hes hard to beat. Fortunately for Anderson, Taft 2013 went better than the previous year and he was able maintain his lead all the way to the finish. Despite a rough start to the season, two first place finishes now have the Polaris racer sitting in 6th place with four rounds reaming. Beau baron would cross the line behind Anderson giving him his fourth podium of the season and further solidifying his position at the head of the class.
After struggling in the sand whoops of Sand Hollow, Production 1000 points leader Mitch Guthrie Jr. took a commanding win over the rest of the field and now sits just a race or two away from wrapping up the class championship with races to spare. The youngster wasted no time on Fridays practice coming out and launching the 100+ foot step up in his Walker Evans Polaris RZR. Rounding out the Production 1000 podium was Mike Gardner and Michael Camp.
In the Production 850 class, the largest battle was in the 4th, 5th and 6th positions between Bryce Ginn, Daniel Rosenzweig and Alfredo Ramirez. The three riders were within car lengths of each other for much of the race with Ramirez remaining out front while Rosenzweig and Ginn swapped positions. Ahead of them, Justin Lambert managed to check out in his Cognito Motorsports Kawasaki and lead the race from start to finish. Jake Morton hasnt made it to many rounds this year but when he does, he sure brings the heat. Morton held off the hard charging Nolan Remlinger who pressured him for much of the race but was never able to make a pass.
In an odd turn of events while Remlinger finished in third position behind Morton, he was later disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct following an altercation in the pits. A good reminder for everyone to do your talking on the track and when it all comes down to it, were out here to have a good time.
In the Production 700 class, H&M Motorsports David Haagsma continues to dig himself out the pit he jumped in by not racing the opening round in the water and mud at Canyon Raceway. Haagsmas four 1st place finishes now have him within 7 points of Michael Bunyea who leads the class after finishing in third at Taft. Cody Rahders who was absent in Utah claimed the second position behind Haagsma.
All in all it was an exciting weekend and one of the most fun races to watch. The viewing from the pits was spectacular for spectators and Im not sure there is anything cooler than seeing a 1000+ pound piece of machinery fly almost 100 ft through the air.
WORCS Round 5 Results
SXS Pro Production:
SXS Production 1000:
SXS Production 850:
SXS Production 700:
2013 WORCS ATV/UTV Schedule:
2013 WORCS Racing: