Taylor Robert Wins Glen Helen Season Opener
Devore, CA (1/6/2019) – Starting the season healthy for the first time in recent memory, Taylor Robert dominated the opening round of the AMA Sprint Hero Racing Series at Glen Helen Raceway. Riding in the Pro class, Robert beat out Gary Sutherlin to net the victory. Zach Bell was third, ahead of Ty Tremaine and Dante Oliveira.
Sprint Hero Racing features a unique format that pits racers against the clock on different course segments called tests. Each day riders had three tests of two different disciplines: Moto, which was run on Glen Helen’s motocross track, and Enduro, which was held on a large off road course set up throughout the venue. Times were combined for a total of 12 laps of racing for the overall winner.
Temperatures in the 50s with clear skies during the race days made for perfect racing. It stayed dry all day Saturday with rain that evening, making for a perfect track on Sunday. Bike counts were nearly double what they were at last season’s opener and there was a great mix of manufacturers participating including factory riders on Kawasaki, KTM, Beta, and Gas Gas as well as many privateers.
This year’s course included some additional segments, including a long rock and log section, where the smoothest line was along the K rail. There was also more single track added at the back of the sprawling facility.
Robert dominated on his brand new factory KTM 450, especially in the enduro sections, winning all six of those tests. While Bell won every one of the moto tests, the additional length of the enduro tests paid big for Robert. “Zach was moving in the moto tests, but the race was really made or lost in the enduro tests,” said Robert. “I was giving up a second or two on the moto tests, but I was able to make up 20 seconds in the enduro tests.”
Robert was happy to see the growth in bike count. He was impressed with the way the track was setup and the way the new owners are running the series. He sees growth in the series once the word really gets out. “I really hope we can get this thing to grow because it’s really incredible,” said Robert. “You have to learn to not make any mistakes. It’s really tough out there, but that’s part of the game. I’m stoked at everyone that came out. We had quite a few pros, so hopefully we can make it bigger.”
Sutherlin had a great run going on Saturday, but fell just short on Sunday and finished second in overall time. Sutherlin, who was making his first start in the series, said he enjoyed the unique challenge the series offers. Sutherlin also made the switch to a KTM this season.
“I never got up there and won a test and these guys were killing it out there,” said Sutherlin. “Zach was ripping the moto tests and Taylor was killing the enduro tests. It’s fun to change it up, push yourself, and try to be perfect every time. I really like the format and I’m looking forward to doing some more of them.”
Bell ran away with the moto tests on his Precision Concepts Kawasaki, but with only two weeks on the bike prior to the event, he couldn’t match Robert in the enduro tests. Still, he finished just 31 seconds behind Sutherlin.
“I had a few mistakes on the last enduro test,” said Bell. “I’ve only been on the bike for a few weeks, but I grew up on Kawi so that’s where it is. I like this type of racing. I just have to pick up the pace a little bit. The whole layout was a lot better than last year. It was a really good event.”
Tremaine was riding a factory Beta 300 and appreciated its light weight, especially through the long rock and log section. He was flying over the logs on his 2-stroke ride. “It was a good weekend and a good way to get the year started,” said Tremaine. “I was bunny hopping the logs, and the bike works really well in the rocks. This is, by far, the most fun you can have while racing. The Beta is a really comfortable bike and it sounds good.”
In Open A, JT Baker beat out Cooper Abbott and Austin Serpa to win the class. Riding a factory Gas Gas XC 300 2-stoke, Baker has only been on the new ride for three weeks prior to the event, but he made it look easy.
“I only have three weeks on the bike, but I loved it and the bike handled amazing,” said Baker. “The 2-stoke is great and it’s not as tiring as the 450. I love the Sprint Enduro format.”
In the Open A Lites class, Mateo Oliveira rode his Gas Gas to victory. Tyler Nicholson and Preston Campbell completed the top three.
“The enduro and the tight single track were my favorite parts,” said Mateo Oliveira. “I just went all out in every test and try to put down a fast time.”
The Sprint Hero Racing series next heads to Canyon MX in Arizona. That race is scheduled for February 16-17th.