Taylor Roberts Takes Canyon MX
Peoria, AZ – Taylor Robert rode his KTM to his second consecutive victory in the AMA Sprint Hero Racing Series during the most recent round at Canyon MX. Padding his points lead in the Pro class, Robert just beat out Zach Bell. Gary Sutherlin was third, followed by Colton Haaker and Dante Oliveira.
Sprint Hero features a unique format that pits racers against the clock on different course segments called tests. The two-day event featured three tests each day on two different courses—motocross and enduro—for a total of 12 tests. Heavy rain on Friday made for perfect racing conditions during the weekend with excellent visibility and track conditions. Despite going up against several Arizona area races, there was still a decent turnout, including all of the major Pro racers.
Robert scored top honors and remains perfect this season, though Bell showed the work he put in between races has paid off. Robert credited Bell for his excellent weekend and used his competitiveness to drive him.
“He was on it and he surprised me yesterday,” said Robert. “He lit a fire under me and I knew I had to be perfect today to beat him. It shows he’s been doing his homework and riding more technical stuff. That will just make it harder on me in the future.”
Interestingly, Robert was seriously injured at this track last year, so the victory was redeeming. Nearly a year ago to the day, a collision with another rider during practice nearly ended Robert’s 2018 racing season. Robert has fought injuries the last two seasons, so he hopes to stay healthy this year. “It was almost exactly a year ago to the day here that a kid a hit me and broke both of my arms,” said Robert. “To be able to come back from that and keep winning feels pretty good.”
Bell won several tests on his Kawasaki. New to the bike this season, Bell is getting more comfortable on the machine and it showed, especially in the technical sections of the endure course. “I’m learning more and more and getting used to this Kawasaki has been key,” said Bell. “I’m learning about this rock stuff and I’m getting better. It was pretty fast, so you always had to be on your toes.”
Sutherlin caught a stomach virus and suffered his way through the weekend. Despite his health issues, Sutherlin rode consistently on his KTM and came home with his second podium of the season. “It was a rough weekend, but we pushed through on got on the box,” said Sutherlin. “I’m just happy to salvage what I could on a bad day. The course was awesome and they did a great job.”
In what is becoming one of the most competitive classes on the tour, Cooper Abbott won the Open A class, riding a KTM. JT Baker was second, ahead of Clayton Hengeveld. Abbott had trouble with consistency on day one, but made up for on day two, while both Baker and Hengeveld suffered from a mistake on the same test.
“I didn’t ride super well on the first day, but I picked it up on day two,” said Abbott. “JT and Clay are riding really well, but both of them made a mistake in one test, which allowed me to pull away a little bit. JT and I are tied in points right now, so we’re just going to keep the ball rolling into Mesquite.”
Baker rode his 2-stroke Gas Gas, using the machine’s torque to power through the rock sections and sand whoops. Baker won the season opener with consistency throughout, but that consistency left him on day two here and put him second in the final tally. “Yesterday I won more tests than today,” said Baker. “I made a lot of mistakes today. I’m happy with the Gas Gas. We’ve made a few changes since the last race, and I’m getting more comfortable with it.”
Hengeveld finished third for the second straight time. He had issues on day one, but powered his way back onto the podium on the second day. “I struggled all day long yesterday, but I pulled my head together today and rode pretty decent,” said Hengeveld. “I’m definitely going to learn from this one and keep pushing.”
In Lites A, Mateo Oliveira won his second race in as many rounds. Oliveira made his way through the rocks and bravely kept it pinned through the backstretch whoops section of the motocross course. Oliveira was riding a 2-stroke Gas Gas. Tyler Nicholson and Blake Donatelli rounded out the podium.
“It was super rocky and slick, so I just tried to stay as consistent as possible,” said Oliveira. “the straightaway in the back with the whoops had a lot of people crashing and it was sketchy for me a couple of times. I just had to go wide open through it to put down a good time.”
The next AMA Sprint Hero Racing Series event is scheduled for May 11-12 at Mesquite MX.