We’re finally back with another edition of the 411, hope you haven’t missed us too badly! With Thanksgiving and the GNCC banquets back-to-back it has been tough finding time to put stuff down on paper, and to be honest there wasn’t a whole lot to write about, well, we’ve got some stuff now!
I’m sure you all remember a month or so ago when I mentioned that there was a silly season possibility that would really shock a lot of people. By now I’m sure you all have figured out that it was Josh Strang riding for the RPM/KTM team with his main focus being the WORCS series out West. The Suzuki team really picked the worst time possible to pull out of the GNCCs as far as Strang is concerned, as no teams really had room on their rosters to add a rider of his caliber. I know that Randy Hawkins worked hard to find budget to add Strang to his AmPro Yamaha squad but just wasn’t able to make it happen, which left Strang with only one real viable option. It’s a definite blow to the GNCC pro row with the Suzuki semi gone and without the 2010 champ there to race every weekend. There might be some silver lining, as Strang mentioned in the interview I did with him on Monday that he’ll be racing more GNCCs than he had anticipated, so that could be a good thing. There is only one WORCS race that conflicts with a GNCC, but there are a couple of EnduroCross rounds that do, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
The GNCC banquet is typically the time when we hear about all the new rides that people have gotten—like last year with Jason Thomas telling everyone he had signed a multi-year deal to ride Husqvarnas and it wasn’t too long after we heard that Charlie Mullins would be racing KTMs for 3 years. Unfortunately this year we didn’t hear much good news about our pro racers and teams. With Suzuki gone, that leaves a gaping hole in the pits as the iconic Suzuki semi will be missing. The buzz at the banquet is that it’s not looking good for Geico to come back as a sponsor of the JG Off-Road squad which would basically cripple that teams effort leaving the futures of Jimmy Jarrett, Scott Watkins, and the rider rumored to be signing with the team, Nate Kanney up in the air. Nate mentioned on Twitter that he was putting together a resume, but not the racing kind, insinuating that he was looking for a “real” job to live off of and hopefully support his racing.
There have been a few bits of good news, as we received a press release two days ago from Beta confirming that Chris Bach would be competing in both the GNCC and National Enduro series in 2012. This seems to be the trend in off-road as a lot of riders are riding in multiple series giving themselves more opportunities to earn race bonuses as well as to promote their sponsors, so it’s a win-win situation for sure.
The other bit of good news, that hasn’t been completely released yet, is that it appears that Thad DuVall has found a ride for 2012. Thad mentioned a couple of weeks ago, then promptly deleted, that he’d be riding a Honda in 2012. He again Tweeted yesterday that an official press release would be coming out on his plans. We’ve heard rumors that Shenandoah Honda has been on the hunt for an XC1 pro rider, and that Erik Nijkamp from offroadchampions.com is using some of his World Enduro connections to help put together that effort. I can’t say for certain this is where DuVall will end up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is.
If you haven’t already, check out this little edit I put together of Charlie Mullins riding a super sick private track here in NC. The Tuesday after Loretta’s I tagged along with Charlie and ace photog Shan Moore as they shot some photos for an upcoming Dirt Rider Magazine feature. It was a pretty fun day and I got some decent shots of Mullins on the moto track. Check it out here!
That’s pretty much it for me this week so I’ll turn this over to IanP.
Thanks Hoop! Not too much happening in the off-road world right now. While supercross teams are settled and well into testing, woods riders are finally getting comfortable on the couch before heading south for the winter. Since our last 411, several riders have found a new home for the 2012 racing season, including Josh Strang to RPM/KTM, Thad Duvall to Honda, and Maria Forsberg, Factory KTM, whom I will get back to in a bit.
In the meantime, I’ve been talking with former XC1 AmPro Yamaha rider, Jason Raines, about his plans for next year. Since retiring as a full time racer in 2008 after a string of leg injuries, Raines has become a successful businessman inside and outside of racing. In addition to offering riding schools across the country, he also works the Real Estate market with his company Full Circle Investments. For those of you who have not already taken part in one of Jason’s schools, I would highly recommend you do so. The knowledge and level of organization he offers to riders surpasses either of the other two schools I have tried. Not to mention, his personable attitude with students makes for an even more beneficial experience. Jason’s latest endeavor will be the Team Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/OffRoadViking.com. Although the team is still in its stages of development, it sounds like he will be launching a full-fledged four-rider team in 2012, consisting of XC2 riders and an unsuspecting wild card. Stay tuned for a team press release and details in the near future.
At the GNCC banquet this past weekend in Morgantown, West Virginia, Charlie Mullins said he was leaving for California on Monday (Dec. 5th) to do photos and testing with the rest of the Factory FMF KTM team. Shortly thereafter, a press release and photos surfaced of multi-time WORCS/GNCC Women’s champ, Maria Forsberg, aboard a factory pumpkin. The decorated rider holds four WORCS Women’s Championships, two GNCC titles, two AMA Racing Female Athlete of the Year awards and an X-Games Gold medal. With so much success aboard the orange machines, it came as no surprise to see Maria continue her relationship with the company, but at a factory level? Definitely shocked me, and I think it’s great to finally see Women riders in the off-road scene being recognized for their skill. Much like Ashley Fiolek and Honda, Forsberg will be afforded the same KTM equipment big hitters such as Mullins and Caselli enjoy. After riding for the RPM/KTM her entire pro career, the transition should be fairly easy, as the rider out of Washington plans on defending her GNCC and XGames titles in 2012. Not too bad, considering she holds down a full time job for Boeing during the week! However, Forsberg is not the only female rider who will be receiving more attention in the GNCC series this upcoming season. Rumor has it that another top-five finisher in the GNCC Women’s class could be in the works with a manufacturer satellite team. It should be an interesting season for the females to say the least.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the interview with GNCC 250A runner-up, Zac Nash. The kid has a good head on his shoulders and some serious talent on a dirt bike. I think that about does it for me this week. I’m going to hit the track one last time this weekend before undergoing knee surgery scheduled for next week on a torn PCL and LCL. Until then, enjoy the weekend and any riding you may be doing. Later, IanP.
And last but not least, here’s our resident redneck, Leonar… errr… Jared Bolton!
Thanks Hoop! Last week I missed my 411 entry because I was on the road to the GNCC banquets and I wasn’t smart enough to plan ahead. This week we’re thrown right back into the norm of the off-season with next to nothing going on besides everyone beginning to count down the days until the season fires back up. Personally, I just keep getting more and more excited about the 2012 season because the more I think about all the shake ups, changes and more, the 2012 season seems more appealing. Also, I’m going to go ahead and officially announce it right here and right now… I will officially be cutting back on the usage of the word “awesome” and will completely drop the word “epic” from any and all Off-Road 411, Quick Fill, or any other writing entries you see me post.
However, those words will still appear on jaredbolton.com as much as I want them to because nobody reads anything other than the off-road calendar anyway. Speaking of the 2012 Off-Road Racing Calendar, I’ve started the beginning stages of composing the beast and will be adding more races and series as everyone officially announces their schedules over the next few months. If you have a series or event you would like to have added to the calendar, feel free to email me at [email protected] and give me the info. Check out the calendar here: http://jaredbolton.com/2011/11/19/2012-off-road-racing-calendar/
In the world of racing news that is actually happening, you’ve definitely already heard about Strang going to RPM KTM to race WORCS. It’s a bummer to see Strang not competing in the GNCC series full-time but it’s cool for him because he has the chance to be the first guy to take titles in both GNCC and WORCS. It should also be pretty cool to see Strang competing in the Endurocross series. There’s been some speculation about how Strang will do in Endurocross, and while it’s tough to guess, you can’t forget that Strang has ridden pretty strong at Snowshoe. While it’s not as gnarly as Endurocross, it tells you that he knows how to make his way through the tough stuff.
We heard this week that Chris Bach will also be contesting the National Enduro series in addition to the GNCC’s for Factory Beta. It’s cool to see another rider making the rounds in both series and showing that they can handle both formats of racing. I think Bach will fair pretty well in the National Enduros. While Bach has had some bad luck in his past National Enduro rides, his section times have been pretty good and I imagine once he gets some seat time under his belt and used to the different format, he’ll do great.
The other big news of the week was the signing of Maria Forsberg to the Factory KTM team. This is not only huge for Maria but also a huge step for the Women’s classes as a whole. Now that one has factory support, maybe others will follow suit if they can find some room in their budgets to do so. She’s the first ever female to be signed to a Factory KTM ride, and I couldn’t think of someone more deserving. Maria is one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet and she can flat out ride. In fact, when she lapped (yeah, I’ll admit it) me at the Ironman, I tucked in to follow her through some lap traffic just like I did with the other overall leaders, and in time that I was able to hang she was absolutely killing it.
I’m going to cut it here this week and save some more ramblings for next week. Until then, Bolt-On out!