|2013 WORCS Round 7 at Glen Helen
Photos and Text by Seth Fargher,SethFargher.com
If you could wager on the WORCS series there are a few things you could put your money on and probably come out ahead every time. Beau baron at or near the front of the pack after the first turn. RJ Anderson driving like a man possessed but succumbing to some sort of mechanical issue. Ryan Piplic driving fast but cautious enough to ensure his UTV makes it the whole race, and two new faces on the Pro Production podium at nearly every race.
Despite running a near flawless race at Pala raceway a month ago and being the first UTV across the finish line, defending champ Ryan Piplic was unseated by a hard charging Nick Granlund who took the overall on adjusted time by a mere six seconds. After taking the overall at Glen Helen last year, Piplic was hoping that the world famous raceway would be good to him again this year.
Since taking over the series as Director of Operations, Tim Shelman has been having some fun with the courses and opted to recreate Lake Havasus infamous water jump as a part of the Glen Helen course. The gap was about 40 feet to flat if you wanted to stay clear of the water and racers not feeling up to it could take the optional chicken line around. Additionally, side by sides would be required to use a portion of the WORCS Cross section and take one of two lines over some massive tractor tires. Nothing too technical but certainly plenty of opportunity for carnage if someone laid on the gas too hard.
The Glen Helen course made use of the entire facility, including the Lucas Oil Off-Road Truck track, with its high-speed berms and monster whoop sections. From the truck track, racers would empty into the sand flats for more high-speed choppy whoops and dust before spilling back onto the MX track.
True to form, Beau Baron grabbed the early holeshot with Ryan Piplic, James Hill and RJ Anderson close behind. The Pro Production class would leave from the line in three waives, again making it a guessing game as to who was the official leader. At the end of lap one Baron maintained a few seconds lead over Piplic with Hill, Anderson and Granlund not far behind. Although he hasnt hit every round this season, Granlund has shown he can drive and last rounds victory at Pala proved hes a threat for the podium. Unfortunately for Granlund, a flat tire on lap four would slow him down and stopping to change it would put him all the way back to fourteenth place.
James Hill managed to hold onto the third position for the first two laps but broke on lap three suffering his second DNF in a row. RJ Anderson was another racer who was on pace with the leaders and mysteriously turned up missing early in the race. It turns out Anderson blew a belt and after running to the pits, replaced the whole secondary clutch because the belt was so wound up in the clutch. Anderson is never one to give up but unfortunately by the time he was up and running he was down two laps.
Out front it looked like it would be a battle between Baron and Piplic for the overall until Baron blew a rear shock on lap six, opening the door for Piplic to take over the lead. I saw Beau had blown his left rear shock and was having trouble holding it in turns so on a hard right hand turn just before entering the truck track, Beau went wide and I cut in underneath him and was able to get by, said Piplic. From there I checked out and stayed on the gas until my pit crew told me that second place was over a minute behind. Piplic wanted to make sure he didnt have a repeat of round six but having eyes and ears on the ground allowed him to cruise to the finish and his first overall of the season. Baron would miss the podium and settle for fourth.
In all the chaos and with so many of the leaders dropping out or slowing down with issues, our two new faces for the podium, Cody Bradbury and John Pacheco were able to steadily gain ground, avoid mishap and wind up on the podium. Bradbury, who claimed the second spot on the podium, is a local from Nuevo California who just happened to be making his WORCS debut. Pacheco has been a top ten competitor for most of the season and after failing to complete even the first lap at Pala, a third place finish at Glen Helen was a worthwhile rebound.
The Production 1000 class winner Jacob Shaw saw his first podium since round two at Primm Nevada. Shaw has struggled to remain even in the top ten but his second at Primm and this first place finish at Glen Helen have him now sitting in third place overall for the season. Mike Gardner earned himself his second 2nd place finish of the year and shows hes definitely a contender, having not finished out of the top five in any race hes completed so far this year. Behind Gardner Darren Kelley would round out the podium with his best finish of the season in third place.
The Production 850 class was probably the most exciting race of the day, with most of the excitement taking place right in front of the pro pits. Cognito Motorsports Justin Lambert has proved himself to be a consistent starter and when he doesnt run into mechanical issues, is hard to beat. Justin would take the holeshot while Nolan Remlinger, probably his biggest competitor, took an outside line from the start and was pinched around the first turn, leaving him to work his way from the back of the pack.
Astonishingly, by the end of lap one, Remlinger had passed up to second place and was gaining ground on Lambert. Then on lap four, the two racers entered the WORCS cross section at almost exactly the same time, with Remlinger taking the right hand lane and bumping Lambert as they came over the tires. Lambert would stall right below the tires leaving only a small space for Alfredo Ramirez and Kayla Smith to sneak passed, dropping him from first to fourth.
In all the excitement, Remlinger managed to overshoot the water jump and skid to a halt, having difficulty getting his Kawasaki Teryx in gear. Meanwhile Ramirez and Smith capitalized on his misfortune and now took over the number one and number two spots. Both Lambert and Remlinger would restart with Remlinger settling for third and Lambert, unable to continue at race pace, finishing in sixth.
Alfredo Ramirez would keep the hammer down and cross the finish line ahead of Smith but her last lap charge, earning her the fast lap of the day, put her ahead of Ramirez on adjusted time. Smith has been absent from the series since round three at Lake Havasu where she piloted her Yamaha Rhino to a second overall in the production 700 class.
In the Production 700 class it was once again the David Haagsma show and despite leaving the line from the fourth row, Haagsma managed to pass nearly every racer in front of him and Im pretty sure he finished in front of everyone in both the classes ahead of him as well. Cody Rahders would fall in behind and hold the second position all the way to the checkers with Michael Bunyeah rounding out the podium.
Between the water jump and some gnarly rock sections, there were more than a few cars left with flat tires and damaged control arms but Im pretty sure, at least in the spectators eyes, this Glen Helen race will go down as one of the best of the year. In the Pro points chase, despite a rough start to the season, Ryan Piplic has now inched within ten points of series leader Beau Baron. You can be sure it will be an all out battle to the final checkered flag of the season and it will be exciting to watch it unfold!
2013 WORCS ATV/UTV Schedule:
2013 WORCS Racing: