2018 Winter Classic Hare & Hound: Robert Strikes First

Taylor Robert gets the ball rolling with a win in the 51st Annual Desert Motorcycle Club Winter Classic Hare & Hound, round one of the 2018 Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, Presented by FMF.

A good start doesn’t always lead to a good finish and vice-versa as Taylor Robert vividly demonstrated at the Desert Motorcycle Club’s 51st Annual Winter Classic Hare & Hound, the first of 10 rounds in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, Presented by FMF.

Winter Classic Hare & Hound
A poor start meant extra work for Taylor Robert, but he managed to push through the pack—and dust—to stage a come-from-behind triumph to kick the season off. Just as impressive is he did it two weeks after surgery. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

Despite a horrible start when his throttle hand twitched as only part of the banner dropped to signal go, the FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team star nonetheless worked his way through the Winter Classic Hare & Hound pack and ended up winning the race at the Spangler Hills Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area outside of Ridgecrest, California. Chidester Transport Racing Yamaha’s Jacob Argubright fell a few times but managed to hold off the returning and still extremely fast Kendall Norman, the 2010 series champ just six seconds behind Argubright at the end of two very different 40-mile loops.

Making Robert’s feat even more impressive is this: He did it just two weeks after surgery!

“I broke my face two weeks ago and had surgery [after a crash while doing some testing], and I have five plates in my face, and I still have stitches in my gums,” Robert said. “I was in pain the whole time!”

This from the guy who was on life support after crashing at 2017 King of the Motos nearly a year ago—yet came back about six months later to win the E3 class at the ISDE.

2018 Winter Classic Hare & Hound
Second in his first National aboard his new bike bodes well for Jacob Argubright, especially when you factor in a couple crashes and a small leak in the radiator. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

After his throttle hand twitched when only part of the banner dropped, Robert’s bike refused to start right away, leaving him at a tremendous deficit.

“I was pretty far back and it was really dusty!” Robert said. “I saw two dudes go over the bars on either side of me, and I was like, ‘Oh boy.’ I just kind of paced through the first part then I tried pushing, but man I didn’t make it easy on myself!”

Despite the horrendous start, Robert managed to push past everyone, including Purvines Racing Yamaha’s Nick Burson who rocketed off the line behind only Beta’s Joe Wasson, grabbing the lead well before the first road crossing. From there through the rest of the fast 40-mile first loop, it appeared there was no catching Burson, who lives in Ridgecrest.

“I’m really comfortable with the terrain out here, and my bike’s working well, so I knew I was out front, and it was dusty, so I just tried to get away,” Burson said. “I tried to break away so no one could key off me at all.”

Winter Classic Hare & Hound
Expect to see 2010 series champ Kendall Norman visit the podium regularly now that he’s committed to racing once again. Third probably isn’t the best he’s capable of. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

When it came to the more technical 40-mile second loop, however, the change of pace or something threw Burson off—and down. Burson crashed several times on that loop, one crash bending his brake pedal underneath the bike and another ending with the bike landing on top of him, though a friend happened to be spectating nearby and quickly pulled the YZ450FX off his back.

After that, Burson ended up fourth behind Robert, Chidester Transport Racing Yamaha’s Jacob Argubright and 2010 series champ Kendall Norman, who insists he’s back doing what he loves and plans to tackle the entire season, thanks mainly to good friends and sponsors coming together to put a program together.

Wasson continues to improve while recovering from his devastating injury at round two last year. After cruising to a pair of ninth-place finishes at the end of last season, he upped the effort and was rewarded with fifth at the 2018 Winter Classic Hre & Hound.

Winter Classic Hare & Hound
The FMF Pro 250 podium (from left): early leader and eventual runner-up Chance Fullerton, winner Morgan Crawford and the third-place finisher, a guy yu might have seen riding a DirtBikes.com tewt bike or two, Nick Stover. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Dalton Shirey claimed sixth ahead of SRT Husqvarna rider Ryan Smith. Chidester Transport Racing Yamaha-mounted Tyler Lynn, the 2017 FMF Pro 250 champ, earned eighth overall in his Pro-class debut followed by Open A winner Jordan Gamboa and SRT Husqvarna’s Morgan Crawford the FMF Pro 250 winner.

Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, Presented by FMF
Desert Motorcycle Club’s 51st Annual Winter Classic Hare & Hound
Spangler Hills Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area
Ridgecrest, California
Results: January 28, 2018

2018 Winter Classic Hare & Hound Overall
1. Taylor Robert-KTM (first Open Pro)
2. Jacob Argubright-Yam
3. Kendall Norman-Hon
4. Nick Burson-Yam
5. Joseph Wasson-Bet
6. Dalton Shirey-Hus
7. Ryan Smith-Hus
8. Tyler Lynn-Yam
9. Jordan Gamboa-KTM (first A Open)
10. Morgan Crawford (first Pro 250)
11. Andrew Puckett-Yam
12. Jared Schlapia-KTM
13. Kyle Tichenor-Yam
14. Chance Fullerton-Bet
15. Hayden Hintz-Yam (first A 250)
16. Brody Honea-Hon
17. Zachary Spano-KTM
18. Clayton Gerstner-Hus
19. Jarett Megla-Hon
20. Eric Yorba-KTM

For more results from the Winter Classic Hare & Hound, visit www.nationalhareandhound.com.