KTM’s Dante Oliveira is Two for Two at Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu City, AZ – Red Bull/KTM’s Dante Oliveira took the lead early and went on to win the Pro 450 Motorcycle race as the Rocky Mountain ATV MC WORCS Series Presented by Polaris RZR and Dirt Bike made its second visit of the season to Lake Havasu. Chance Hymas won the Pro 250 race and Brandy Richards scored a historic victory in Pro Am.
The event was held at Crazy Horse Campground on a track laid out around and at one point over Lake Havasu. A huge contingent of riders turned out for the two-hour Spring Break event. With temperatures in the high 80s and a slight breeze, the weather was picture perfect for racing.
In the Pro race, Zach Bell scored the holeshot on his Kawasaki at the start, but Oliveria quickly made the pass on Bell who eventually dropped out the race with a knee injury. While Oliveira ran solid pace out front, Austin Walton and Taylor Robert were charging from the back.
In the end, Robert finished second on his KTM, ahead of the Husqvarna of Walton. Giacomo Redondi returned from an injury in the first round to finish fourth on a Gas Gas, followed by Travis Damon’s Honda. Martinez was in the running for a podium before he ran out of fuel just before his pit window and finished sixth on his Honda. “I got the pass for the lead halfway through the first lap and I just went from there,” said Oliveira. “I just tried to stay smooth. I didn’t want to push too hard and get tired. It was a great race. My bike was awesome and I felt awesome. I love Havasu!”
Oliveira used to be well known for his hardcore sprint style of racing. With age and experience comes wisdom, and Oliveira calmed himself down last year. This year, riding on a factory KTM, he is now a true title contender with teammate and defending titleholder Robert. “You can’t ride too wild here or you won’t be there at the end of the race,” said Oliveira. “So, I chilled out during the first half of the race, but if I could have pinned it, I would have.”
Robert had a slow start and got wiped out by other competitors on both the first and second laps, so he had to ride from the back of the field. Once he cleared the pack, he didn’t have enough time to catch Oliveira. Riding similar bikes, with similar fitness, riding styles and lap times, Robert held onto second and stayed close in the points battle.
“That was definitely not the way to go about winning a race,” said Robert. “I just lost too much time to these guys on the first four or five laps. Once I got through the pack, Dante and I were running the same speed which we regularly do, so if I give him a 45-second head start, then it’s impossible to catch back up. I rode as hard as I could, I stayed consistent all day, so I’ll just have to get him at the next one.”
Walton was also snoozing at the start and had to climb forward from the back. Following Robert through the pack he finished third, scoring his third podium of the season. He now sits third in points behind Oliveira and Robert. “I pushed through and I feel like I rode well, and kept us in the fight,” said Walton. “I need to be up here consistently and keep charging.”
Though Redondi “only” broke his right pinky finger in a crash at the season opener, it was one heck of a break. Two plates and 21 pins later, Redondi was back in WORCS competition here, though with a pinky that won’t bend completely. He still held on for fourth and will definitely be there as he continues to heal. “I’m finally getting back after the injury in the first race,” said Redondi. “I hope to be closer to the front at the next round. We started back as soon as possible and pushed hard with the rehab. I still can’t hold onto the grip very well, but I will deal with this and get back to racing pace.”
In Pro 250, Hymas used his own version of the Dante Oilveira racing method to sprint through the two-hour race. After starting second, he put in a blistering run on his Kawasaki to catch and pass Tallon Lafountaine for the lead. Lafountain was second on his Honda, ahead of Mateo Oliveira on a RPM KTM, who retained the points lead.
“I sprinted for the first 30 minutes and I was spent,” said Hymas. “Once I pitted and got some hydration, I worked to catch Tallon. After I passed him, I was dead. I’m pretty lucky to get this win.”
Lafountaine said he may have put in too strong of a run early in the race. After taking the holeshot, he led most of the event before falling to second in the end. Lafountaine is now second in the championship race, 13 points behind Mateo Oliveira. “I think I had a really good pace for an hour or so, but maybe it was a little too fast,” said Lafountaine. “Overall, it was a good weekend. Mateo and I are really close right now so we’re trying to finish as high as we can every weekend.”
Mateo Oliveira had to climb back through the pack and challenged Hymas at the end, but a crash slowed his charge. Still, it marked his third podium of the season after winning the first two races. “I had a bad start but I made it through the pack really quickly,” he said. “I had a battle going with Chance for a little while but I made a mistake and bent up my bars. Overall, it was a good race and with good points going into the next round.”
In Pro-Am, Brandy Richards made history by winning the race in a class that is made up completely of male riders. After an intense battle with Evan Stice, she rode her KTM home first. Stice was second on his Honda, followed by the Husqvarna of Alex Morgan.
“Evan and I were battling for the whole race,” said Richards. “The pace right away was just intense so I fell back a little bit. Then I just paced him until the last 20 minutes. I sprinted from there. I just kept pushing and here it is.”
Stice fought hard with Richards throughout the race but came up just short at the end. Stice was succinct in how he explained his second-place finish. “Brandy was going really fast and I got tired,” he said. “Then I had a tipover and my bars were bent up. We had a good battle, though. She was ripping.”
Morgan had trouble firing his bike at the start and came from the back to finish third. He continues to hold the lead in points, though in a numerical tie with Stice. “I was in the back and came through, and that’s something I’m used to doing,” said Morgan. “I got a podium on the day and it’s a long season.”
Richards also won the Pro Women race, beating out the KTM of Kaitlyn Jacobs and Ava Silvestri on the Purvines Yamaha. After taking the holeshot and avoiding a pileup on the first lap, Richards pushed hard to dominate the race.
“I got the holeshot and stayed steady for the first lap,” said Richards. “After the first few laps, I just pushed and got as far ahead as I could.”
While Richards ran away with the lead, Jacobs battled Silvestri throughout the event for the runner-up slot. “I don’t think I rode to my full potential today, but we will make some changes and get faster at the next race,” said Jacobs. “I think WORCS did a really good job on the course here this weekend; it flowed really well.”
Unlike many riders in the field, Silvestri enjoys sand whoops so she was having a ball on the Havasu track. She finished third and had fun in the process.
“I was having a lot of fun out there,” said Silvestri. “It was still super brutal, but I enjoyed it a lot. I couldn’t be more thankful for the whole Purvines team.”
The WORCS motorcycles will next race April 16-18 at Honolulu Hills Raceway in Taft. CA.