Taylor Robert Dominates Cinder Hills Sprint Hero
Flagstaff, AZ – Taylor Robert won his fourth consecutive race during the AMA Sprint Hero Racing Series race at Cinder Hills OHV Area. Taylor and his KTM continue to remain undefeated this season. Zach Bell was second in the Pro class, followed by Dante Oliveira. Gary Sutherlin, still recovering from foot surgery, was fourth, while Andrew Short was fifth in his Sprint Hero series debut.
The venue was unique among the tracks visited by the Sprint Hero series. Situated within the San Francisco Volcano Field, the track surface featured cinder-like volcano ash. The porous and light cinders forced competitors to stay high in the RPM range and carry more speed around the picturesque circuit. The roots of the large pine trees on the course made it even more challenging.
Weather was in the 70s with clear skies during the event, which was held all in one day. A slight breeze helped keep the dust in check. The 12 tests were run on two courses. The off-road course was over three miles in length, while the moto course was a shorter mile-long loop.
Robert was again unstoppable and kept up his dominating ways in the series. Adding to his win streak in the WORCS Series, Robert has now won 10 consecutive races this season. However, even he struggled to tame the soft racing surface, though he appreciated series officials’ choice to keep the series exciting with another challenging course.
“It’s really tricky and keeps you on your toes because those tree roots come out of nowhere,” said Robert. “The lava rock is so light and moves around so much that you have to stay up in the RPMs or it just sucked you down. I am glad they are mixing it up, though, because it keeps it interesting.”
Bell laid down a strong pace early in the event on his Kawasaki and earned first starter honors. He too found the course challenging and was happy to finish second, earning his third consecutive runner-up effort.
“I did what I could today,” explained Bell. “I made a few mistakes, but I also had a few good runs. I just tried to adapt as well as I could. It was really slick, so I had to make sure to carry more speed. I tried to find the edge of the track and get a little bit faster.”
As he has in the first three rounds, Oliveira again struggled early in the event, but bounced back during the second half of the event. Riding a KTM, he earned his second consecutive podium in what is becoming a true break out season for Oliveira.
“I’ve been struggling early all year, and I’ve picked it up on the second part of the events,” said Oliveira. “I liked the moto test because the berms were a little more built up and it was a little more worn in. The off-road loop kept me guessing.”
In Open A, Cooper Abbott scored his second victory of the season. Austin Serpa finished second. Clayton Hengeveld, who sat third in points coming into this race, sustained a broken leg in a crash, so we wish him a speedy recovery.
Abbott said the racing surface looked a lot like sand but didn’t behave as such. While the victory allowed him to pad his points lead, he was happy just to make it through.
“It was definitely something different,” said Abbott. “You kind of think it’s like sand, but you can’t really plow into the corners like you can with sand. Every lap I stuck to the same lines and tried to stay smart because it was scary getting out of those lines with all of the tree roots.”
Serpa was also fooled by the racing surface early on, but he quickly caught on to the fact that high RPMs and more speed were rewarded on the time charts. The finish, along with Hengeveld’s crash, unofficially moves him into the top three in points.
“Second place is good and I can’t ask for much else,” said Serpa. “It looks like it’s hard packed and heavy, but it’s really light and you just sink into it. I just tried to put it where it looked hard packed and stay high in the RPMs.”
The AMA Sprint Hero Racing Series now heads into the summer break. It returns to action August 24-25 at MMX Racing in Marysville, CA.