TAYLOR ROBERT & AUSTIN WALTON SPLIT WINS AT SHORTY’S SPORTS PARK WORCS
Blythe, CA – WORCS Pro Racer’s Taylor Robert and Austin Walton split the weekend’s victories during the Rocky Mountain ATV MC WORCS Series Presented by Polaris RZR and Dirt Bike at Shorty’s Sports Park. Matteo Oliveira and Tallon Lafountaine won the Pro 2 races. Angus Riordan secured his first Pro 2 Lights victory on Saturday, and Tyler Lynn won Sunday’s Pro 2 Lights race.
The doubleheader event was held at a track new to the WORCS series located in the Mojave Desert just east of the Salton Sea. The track featured a challenging off-road section that featured a blend of sand washes, holes, rocks and copious square edges. That was combined with a motocross course making for a perfect blend of demanding off-road racing.
In Saturday’s Pro race there was confusion at the start for points leader Robert who was caught unawares as the race started. Despite that he still took the holeshot on his KTM. Oliveira, however, was charging hard and he took the lead on the first lap. His scorching pace, however, came back to haunt Oliveira late in the event. Gassed from the hard work on the demanding circuit, his pace slowed handing the lead and eventual victory to Robert. Oliveira held on for second on his KTM, followed by Trevor Stewart riding a Honda.
“Dante was moving and he was going for it,” said Robert. “I kept him honest and I finally put enough pressure on him that he started to make some mistakes. The race was incredibly physically demanding and it was getting to both of us. I made a couple of attempts and I finally made it stick with four laps to go.”
Oliveira admitted he out-punted his coverage during the early stages of the race. His typical aggressive style just didn’t pan out on a track that demanded respect and focus. He was pleased however to earn his fourth consecutive podium finish. “I rode hard trying to break away from Taylor but he stuck with me and he ended up capitalizing on that,” said Oliveira. “I got a little tired and was gassed from charging on the first lap. I love this track and I hope we come back.”
Stewart scored his first podium since 2017. Knowing he wasn’t in the championship picture, Steward changed his strategy for this race and just went out to enjoy himself. It worked out. After starting dead last, he methodically made his way through the field to grab the final spot on the box.
“I think I broke the curse,” said Stewart. “I’m not traditionally a good WORCS racer, but I came into this weekend wanting to have fun. Toward the middle of the race I really caught my groove and was picking off guys left and right. I held my gap and put it on cruise control from there.”
In Sunday’s Pro race, Austin Walton used frustration and grit to earn his first ever Pro victory. Walton crashed hard on Saturday, riding his severely damaged Husqvarna to a ninth-place finish. He turned his frustration into determination. After snagging the holeshot and leading the first half of the race, he pitted along with Robert, who was running second. The pair exited the pits together and Walton pushed Robert into a haybale. He held him off from there. Robert finished second, followed by Oliveira.
“He ended up on a hay bail and I ended up with the lead,” said Walton. “The bike was working awesome and I was able to put myself into a position to show my whole potential. I needed some redemption from Saturday. I took some frustration into today and it ended up being a good day. It feels so good today to win on a really brutal track.”
Robert had trouble getting his bike to fire at the start and came out of the gate last. He charged his way through the field, passing Oliveira and then setting his sights on Walton. Though his pit stop was just slightly faster than Walton’s, they were side by side out of the pits and Walton took advantage of the outside position pinching Robert to the inside. Robert charged back but a hard crash trying to catch Walton slowed his pace. “He pushed me into the haybale on the inside and I got high centered; no problem…like they say rubbing is racing,” said Robert. “I stayed right with him but I got stuck in the dust behind him and then I crashed really hard. That took the wind out of my sails, so, I decided to focus on having a safe race and looking forward to Primm.”
Oliveira changed his strategy from Saturday and chose to run a more conservative pace in the early stages of the race. Though he stayed with the leaders the entire race, he didn’t have the push to make it out of third. “I tried to play it different today,” explained Oliveira. “Yesterday I sprinted from the start and I gassed myself so I rode smarter today. I tried to put down smooth and consistent laps but I couldn’t hold the pace that Austin and Taylor were running.”
The event celebrated the return of 2018 Pro champion Giacomo Redondi. The Italian racer was making his first race starts since sustaining severe injuries, including two broken legs, in a crash during training at the end of the January. He finished eighth and ninth, despite only being back on the bike for a few days. “I’m happy to be back,” said Redondi. “I have blisters everywhere after eight months of no riding, but I’m really glad to be back.”
In Saturday’s Pro 2 race, Mateo Oliveira started second on his KTM behind Tallon Lafountaine’s Honda, but quickly took the lead for good on the first lap. He led from there, earning his fourth consecutive victory. Lafountaine was second, ahead of Todd Sibell on a Kawasaki. “The track was super rough today, but I was able to keep it on two wheels and kept pushing the whole time,” said Mateo Oliveira. “New venues are always fun to come to and this one was awesome. It’s a perfect venue and I hope we come back.”
Lafountaine is a consistent student of off road racing, trying to learn every weekend. His latest endeavor was working on his starts. After taking the holeshot, he’s clearly passed that exam. The second-place finish marked his fourth podium of the season as he tries to unseat Mateo Oliveira from the points lead. “I’ve been focusing on my starts so it was really good to get the holeshot,” said Lafountaine. “Mateo is riding really well and he passed me pretty quickly. I really wanted to see what he was doing and what I could learn from his lines. I learned a lot today. I want to win, but at the same time I’m learning and I’m happy with our results today.”
Sibell earned his first WORCS Pro 2 podium in just his fourth start. The motocross veteran kicked off his WORCS season in round three and is getting his feet wet in off road racing after riding since he was two years old. “We’re just getting into this off-road scene so it’s been a big learning experience,” said Sibell. I’ve raced motocross for the past 17 years and I wanted to try a new riding style. I’m really liking it so far.”
In Sunday’s Pro 2 race, Lafountaine put into practice what he learned on Saturday to score his second victory of the season. Sibell finished second, followed by Kai Aiello’s Husqvarna. Lafountaine set a decent pace early and that paid off with the victory.
“They changed the track a little from Saturday and it really worked out because I found a few places I could catch my breath,” said Lafountaine. “Sibell and I went back and forth four times at least. He was going for it but I knew he would wear himself out. So, I let him do his thing and I took the lead for the second half of the race.”
In Saturday’s Pro 2 Lights race, KTM rider Riordan took home is first Pro 2 Lights victory. After fighting back and forth with the Kawasaki of Tyler Lynn, Riordan took advantage of a crash by Lynn to take the lead for good. Lynn was second, ahead of the KTM of Thomas Dunn.
“Tyler and I swapped the lead and then he crashed and I took it for good,” said Riordan. “It’s taken awhile to get my first win but I’m happy to get it. This is the best track we’ve run so far this year. The track made it feel like I was in the MX GP. It was a smooth race and I loved the track.”
In Sunday’s Pro 2 Lights race, Lynn scored the victory, ahead of Riordan and the Kawasaki of Jake Alvarez. The weekend’s results put Lynn and Riordan in a dead heat for first in points with Alvarez just 10 points back.
In Women Pro, Brandy Richards swept the weekend, with Kaitlyn Jacobs and Lauren Woods finishing second and third, respectively, in both races. Richards has won every race in the class this season. Richards also finished fourth in both Pro 2 Lights races.
The WORCS motorcycles will be back in action when the series heads to Primm, NV November 13-15th.