Pearson, Burson 1-2 at Sahara AMA West Hare Scramble

Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha gets a win and a runner-up at the Sahara Hare Scramble, but Max Gerston still holds the AMA West HS Series point lead.

Axel Pearson and Nick Burson made for a Purvines DA8 Racing Yamaha 1-2 at the Sahara Hare Scramble, presented by the Sage Riders Motorcycle Club at the Little Sahara Recreation Area near Jericho, Utah, last Saturday.

Axel Pearson grabbed the holeshot and eventually was declared winner of the Sahara Hare Scramble in Utah. It marked his first win of the season. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

But with his third-place finish, Beta’s Max Gerston remained the points leader after eight of 10 rounds in the 2017 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series, though his he lost some ground to reigning champion Burson. Gerston leads Burson, 176-170; Gerston led by 10 points going into the race, which was characterized by dry, dusty, rough conditions.

There was some confusion both during and after the race as round-one winner Joey Fiasconaro came through the scoring chute with a sizable lead, though Pearson got the holeshot and owned an immediate advantage due to the dust. Apparently, one trail didn’t get closed and marked after the C/Women/Masters race, resulting in the Gas Gas rider and several others following it and bypassing a significant portion of the 20-mile loop.

After studying lap charts and AMA rules, officials ruled that Fiasconaro and the others would receive appropriate penalties. Pearson thus took the win⏤his first of the season⏤in a brutal three hours, 14 minutes and 23 seconds. Despite being sick, Burson fought through for second, 1:09 behind, with Gerston at 3:20:15.

For the third time this season, Cole Conatser won the FMF Pro 250 class, though he remains 31 points shy of J.T. Baker who was third. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

“I kind of knew what to expect,” Pearson said afterward, referring to racing the hare & hound Nationals here for the past few years. “It got really rough so at the end of the day, it came down to whoever can pin it through the whoops [best]. Fortunately, I’ve got some good bike setups for this kind of stuff, but it was still brutal⏤it kicked my butt.”

Burson said it was probably the roughest course he has ever ridden.

“The first four miles was three- or four-foot-deep sand whoops,” Burson said. “Everyone’s trying to get off the trail, but there’s branches everywhere. The trees [in one canyon] were awesome [though]. If we could’ve stayed over there most of the time, it would’ve been great.”

Unlike those two, Gerston had no experience at Little Sahara (as well as all the other rounds, for that matter), but he dismissed that as an excuse, declaring he wanted the win and didn’t just ride to salvage points.

Shane Heywood continued his run of dominance in Junior Mini (7-11), winning for the fifth consecutive round and sixth time this season. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

“No matter how experienced you are or how inexperienced you are in an area, if you’re not going for the win, I think you’re wasting your time,” Gerston said. “What a torture-fest that was! Man, it was the most clapped-out, silted-out whoops bull crap I’ve ever seen. It was unreal⏤but it was really fun. I didn’t have a very good start again, but I started working my way up. If I could get a start one of these days, that would do me a lot of good.”

Monarch Honda CRF450X-mounted Tuffy Pearson claimed fourth ahead of FMF Pro 250 winner Cole Conatser. After crashing on the last lap, Fiasconaro was deemed the sixth-place finisher ahead of FMF Pro 250 runner-up Clayton Gerstner, Lake Powell Off-road Association CRF450X rider Skyler Howes, FMF Pro 250 points leader J.T. Baker and Vet A winner Logan Cleveland.

2017 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scramble Championship
Sahara Hare Scramble
Sage Rides Motorcycle Club
Jericho, Utah
Results: September 9, 2017 (Round 8 of 10)

1. Axel Pearson-Yam/3:14:23 (first Pro/AA)
2. Nick Burson-Yam/3:15:32
3. Max Gerston-Bet/3:20:15
4. Tuffy Pearson-KTM/3:26:37
5. Cole Conatser-KTM/3:28:23 (first Pro 250)
6. Joey Fiasconaro-KTM/3:28:24
7. Clayton Gerstner-KTM/3:28:33
8. Skyler Howes-KTM/3:35:51
9. J.T. Baker-Hus/3:42:57
10. Logan Cleveland-Yam/3:50:13 (first A Vet)

For full results, visit