February 25, 01, Lyman, WA
Story by Tory Briggs
The bright sunny day matched the promise of the 2001 NMA Off-Road Series, at the opening event at Lyman Valley, where the Mt. Baker M/C loves to stage their grueling Filthy Pup Hare Scrambles. It would be a rare racer who could recall a Filthy Pup without pouring rain, overwhelming mud, and occasionally significant snow. Such is life in the foothills in Puget Sound in February. As for the 2001 Series, now up to seventeen events with turnouts expected to continue to increase over last year’s growth, incredible competition action in all classes is anticipated, especially in the premier AA division.
(At Right: KTM's Jason Dahners (#1, 2nd from right) jets to the holeshot at the first race of the 2001 NMA Off-Road Series. From left to right, Dale Walsh, Jason Cole, Dahners, Kevin Parks. photo by Tory Briggs)
Dana Johnson and his fine sons, with help from a volunteer crew, laid out a fourteen mile loop featuring a little bit of everything the varying terrain offers. Most would comment later that the course seemed faster this year, an opinion probably influenced by the dry trails, but that it still confounded settling into an easy rhythm. To go fast and keep it there required staying on the pegs, being smooth in some sections, and pinning it in others. The wrong choice was usually rewarded with an excursion into the trees.
Perhaps expecting the significantly increased turnout of 244 riders, some sixty more than the event record last year, the club wisely had split the event into two races for the first time. Alan Deyo, escaping from the deep snow shutting down all riding around his Idaho home, got away in fourth and quickly worked his way into the lead during the first loop of the morning race, and proceeded to disappear from the rest of the Senior Experts. Now, Washington’s Senior Experts are well known for their speed, several are considered to be mid-pack AA rapid, several more are competitive with the A’s. But Deyo, riding a KTM250, a cut above even that, is arguably the fastest Senior in the country. When not pressed by his buddies to run the morning race so as to get home after six hours on the highway at a decent time, he would run AA/A, and at the Pup usually finishes around 5th – 10th overall, so his win was not a huge surprise. Later he would note, ”I am really happy with the 2001 KTM250, the bike works perfectly. Even more so, I had Aftershocks tweak my suspension, and I am going to write them a thankyou letter as soon as I get home. I have never ridden such a perfectly suspended bike, it made this race effortless.”
Behind Deyo’s domination, a new arrival to the 40+ set, Troy Joiner, surprised the rest of the Senior Expert regulars, who all wondered, "who was that?” Perry Tonsgard completed the podium, followed by Dana Johnson, Ron Gisle (Cycle Barn), Sean Callahan, Bob Elliot, Bob Ryan, and Todd Wolfe (Cycle Barn), all Senior Experts. Lyle Duronso, racing Super Senior on his Skagit Powersports GasGas 200, finished off the top ten after starting from the second wave, passing every Sportsman along the way. John Forsberg (Sen Exp) ripped to eleventh, followed by Aurora Suzuki’s Damon Bee, also a Super Senior choosing to "race up” as a Senior Amateur. Can’t keep those old guys down! Rounding out the top 20 were James Cameron (1st Vet Am), Shahar Dahan (1st Sportsman), Jack Davies (Sen Am), Mike Hulbert (Sen Am), Cory Peterson (Sptman), Brian Lester (Team Enumclaw, SptMan), Tory Briggs (Skagit Powersports, Sen Exp), and Dan Brocker (Sen Am).
The course had held up great under the 145 morning racers, most had completed two laps in the hour and a half base time, amazingly, exactly the top twenty got through under the wire and finished with three laps.
An unprecedented twenty AA’s graced the front row of the afternoon race. Favorites included KTM’s Jason Dahners, 2000 defending champion, and Yamaha’s David Lykke, also a multi-NMA champ and hot off a national #3 ranking in the AMA Enduro series. From the NMA, Motorcycle Works of Renton backed Joe Wade and Brian Bennett, the latter on a new TM250, Skagit Powersports John Beal on his GasGas 200, Aurora Suzuki’s Aaron Wilson, Lynnwood Yamaha’s Scott McLaughlin, and Ranier Cycle’s Rob Lewis were all poised to make a statement about this series at this race, but the Canadian speedsters were out in force too. Tony Allen, Dale Walsh, Jason Cole, Doug Young, even Guy Perrett from moto-video fame were on hand to do battle.
Dahners proceeded to destroy everyone. A perfect holeshot stretched out to a minute and a half lead after the first loop had the spectators and pits shaking their heads, concluding that no one had found the extra little bit of speed required to hang with the wily vet. Relative unknown and unsponsored Kevin Parks had second covered, followed by Allen, Walsh and Young, then Lykke and Cole, Lee Mutoli, McLaughlin, Perrett, Lewis, Wade, Beal, who had to stop and fabricate a fuel line from his tank vent hose, Bennett, and Motorcycle Works of Renton’s Scott O’Brien, last year’s Senior Expert champ giving the 200A class a shot this year (he holeshot the A wave!). The Canadians were indeed charging! Speaking of Dahner’s holeshot, his brother Jeff annihilated the third, Vet Expert wave start as well. They must be talking to each other!
As the A wave rolled through the pits, 200A racer Jeff Odom paused for gas and relayed an incredible race story. Battling with Pat White, O’Brien, Steve Parker, and other 200A ragers, he had crashed hard when the left grip simply slid off the end of his YZ125’s bars. A frantic search seemed to indicate that the grip had vanished into thin air, it was nowhere. Pulling his eyes away from the ground, hands on hips in frustration, for racing trying to hold on to the metal would be nearly impossible, he spotted his missing component in a tree! He jammed it back on, where it would stay put for the remainder of the race without even rotating!
Dahners opened up another minute on Parks, who was generating a lot of "who is that, he doesn’t even have bark busters?” comments after two circuits, the leader looking relaxed yet flying. Lykke had moved into third, followed by Cole, Wilson, Allen, Walsh, Mutoli, Lewis, Wade, Perrett, and Beal, who pitted to change a front flat (McLaughlin dropped out with a flat and a dry tank, pushing in). Aurora Suzuki backed Phil Stevens was out in front of all the A racers, though Cycle Barn’s Erik Bee was just a bit back, and Odom was amazing everyone, no surprise really, he has been competitive at the top and champ (’92) of the AA’s, he just has raced very rarely over the last few years and everyone figured he would be off his old pace.
The third lap still found Dahners holding the lead, but Lykke had moved into second, though not shaking Parks who was parked, on his rear fender, and the Yamahas were only about a minute behind the KTM. Wilson was on the move, up to fourth, even more surprising was Lewis, who based on last year would not be expected in fifth against so many AA’s this late in the race. It may not be a fluke, asked afterwards the Honda racer described the change as simple, he had given up "the chew”, and could tell that he was stronger and more focused. The rest of the front runners were Young, Allen, Mutoli, Wade, Walsh, Stevens, Bee, Tod Zilcosky, and Odom.
(At Left: As far as holeshots go, it was a "Dahners" day, as brother Jeff smoked the Vet Expert wave as cleanly as Jason did the AA wave. Jeff is part of the Cycle Barn team, and rides a CR250. photo by Tory Briggs)
Word filtered back to the pits pretty quickly, Lykke had snuck up on and passed Dahners early in the clearcut valley, and the two had wicked it up all the way. Based on lap times, it seemed that their race would bring them around just before the course closed, and they would be pressed into doing yet one more lap. We had a tight race on our hands after all!
The extra lap was not to be, though, lappers slowed them up just enough that the course closed. Dahners never got a chance to try to pass Lykke back, and crossed the line right on his fender. Parks hung tough, just a few seconds back, someone needs to call this youngster and sign him to their team! Wilson and Lewis were clear in 4th and 5th.Wade put on a last lap push that got him all the way to sixth, impressing Mutoli and Allen who were knocked back accordingly. Stevens was ninth, at this rate he WILL be AA next year, and he told me that he was extremely happy with his RM250, stating, "It is so good to be back on a two stroke!” Walsh rounded out the top ten, Bee held on to second A Open, and Odom was first 200A, first 125, in thirteenth, "gotta apply some grip glue and safety wire”, overall.
So, the battle is joined. It is a long series. Lykke will have problems covering as he chases National points, but there are more throwaways this year, so he may be able to apply real pressure to Dahners over the long haul. Beal and McLaughlin aren’t going to go away just because of one bad luck race, and they are fast enough to seriously challenge, along with Aurora Suzuki’s Kevin Bailey, who sat this one out and has several months to get his knee turned around before he has to make a showing. Wilson, Wade and Lewis should always be right there as well.
Lykke is sponsored by,Lynnwood Motoplex, Yamaha Motor Company, MSR, Moto Pro, Clarke Mfg., Fly Racing, Kings Tires, White Brothers, Spectro Oils, Renthal Sprockets, Kona Mt. Bikes, EBC, No-Toil, Scott, One Industries, and A-Loop Offroad. Dahners is sponsored by, KTM Sportmotorcycle USA, Aftershocks, Motorcycle Works of Renton, Screwy Designs, Answer Racing, MotoPro, Hi-Tech Imports, Team Crutch, and Torco Oils.
No doubt everyone is stoked, ready for round two (which will be the Rockhopper, the Jackhammer is postponed), and really pleased with yet another fine Mt. Baker production. As Team Crutch would say, WAHOO!
(At Right: Alone and out front of everyone for most of the race, Jason Dahners was the epitome of smooth and very fast aboard his KTM250. photo by Tory Briggs)
AA: 1. David Lykke (Yam), 2. Jason Dahners (KTM), 3. Kevin Parks (Yam), 4. Aaron Wilson (Suz), 5. Rob Lewis (Hon), 6. Joe Wade (Yam), 7. Lee Mutoli (KTM), 8. Tony Allen (Yam), 9. Dale Walsh (KTM), 10. Tod Zilcosky (Suz); OPEN A: 1. Phil Stevens (Suz), 2. Erik Bee (Kaw), 3. Ron Durkin (KTM), 4. Ben Hale (Yam), 5. Ken Oakland (Hon); 200A: 1. Jeff Odom (Yam), 2. Blaine Ostafin (Yam), 3. Scott Obrien (KTM), 4. Pat White (Yam), 5. Dean Dorsett (KTM); 4 STK EXP: 1. Tim Mount (Hon), 2. Peter Giese (Hon), 3. Steve Svedarsky (Yam), 4. Jon Crist (Suz); VET EXP: 1. Steve Cobb (Yam), 2. Ron Robinson (Hon), 3. Chad Torbergson (Suz), 4. Doug Micone (Kaw), 5. Tate Matherly (Yam); SEN EXP: 1. Alan Deyo (KTM), 2. Troy Joiner (Yam), 3. Perry Tonsgard (Kaw), 4. Dana Johnson (Yam), 5. Ron Gisle (Kaw); OPEN B: 1. Reynoir Peterson (Hon), 2. Troy Swettenam (KTM), 3. Sutton Brown (Yam), 4. Brad Clark (KTM), 5. Paul Neff (Yam); 200B: 1. Chuck Lider (KTM), 2. Trent Kleven (Suz), 3. Mark Patterson (Hon), 4. Jason Wolfe (KTM), 5. Aldo Grossi (Kaw); OPEN C: 1. Ryan Monk ((Yam), 2. Rodney Hoople (Hon), 3. Marc Wald (Suz), 4. Dwaine Trummert (KTM), 5. Justin Lundgren (Kaw); 200C: 1. Scott Peterson (Yam), 2. Brenden Ritzman (Yam), 3. Brandon Johnson (Yam), 4. Don Weyland (Yam), 5. Robbie Johnson (Yam); 4 STK AM: 1. Marty Klinesmith (Hon), 2. Roger Johnson (Hon), 3. John Delarm, 4. Dave Busch (Kaw), 5. George Meaden (Yam); VET AM: 1. James Cameron (Yam), 2. Scott Hinton (KTM), 3. Todd Lynn (Yam), 4. Wendell Bierma (Yam), 5. Rich Fox (Kaw); SEN AM: 1. Damon Bee (Suz), 2. Jack Davies (KTM), 3. Mike Hurlbert (Yam), 4. Dan Brocker (Hon), 5. John Starkweather (Hon); WOMEN: 1. Maria Forsberg (Yam), 2. Madelynn Nield (Kaw), 3. Allyson Johnson (Kaw), 4. Jessica Briggs (Kaw); SUPER SEN: 1. Lyle Duronso (GAS), 2. Dereald Nuez (Kaw), 3. Norm Burns (KTM); SPORTSMAN: 1. Shahar Dahan (Yam), 2. Cory Peterson (KTM), 3. Brian Lester (Yam), 4. WT Ballard (KTM), 5. John Zindt (Yam)
Tory Briggs is the President of the Northwest Motorcycle Association (NMA) - which is dedicated to the preservation of off-road motorcycling. For more information about the NMA, which also manages competitive and family event series, visit our website at www.nmaoffroad.org, drop Tory an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message on the NMA answering machine at 360-794-9753.