By Jonathan Barrett
The Blud Lubricants #188 Honda of Wyatt Perry rockets into the last corner on lap 1 of the AZOP Vulture Mine Hare Scrambles. The 2018 AZOP Vulture Mine Hare Scrambles had a fantastic turnout this year for all types of racing. 52 UTV’s, 74 dirt bikes, and 29 ATV’s showed up to the longest and most challenging race of the season.
On the 2 wheels side of the race, the Blud Lubricants Honda #188 of Wyatt Perry got off to a strong start and held a 44 second lead over the #009 of Miguel Cordovez coming into the timing gate of lap 1, with the #15 Yamaha of Jeremy Newton bringing up 3rd. After another 30 miles Wyatt Perry still had a lead of 20 seconds over the now 2nd place Jeremy Newton and a 2.5 minute lead over the #223 of Luis Kortright in 3rd.
On the final lap, Perry was running strong up until mile 24 where he ran out of gas after a miscalculation of not getting fuel in the previous pit stop. Perry was able to get fuel on the course, but not before falling to 6th as the competitors made quick work of the lead he had. Overall it was Jeremy Newton with the win, followed my Luis Kortright and Juan Cordovez taking 3rd. Other winners include Patrick Wells taking Open A on his Yamaha, Jon Froust taking Open B on his Honda, and Jeff Ekstrom taking Open C on his Kawasaki.
The ATV’s of 2018 were out in full force as the Pointless Racing Honda #35 Erin Simmons rocketed off the start and took the lead. Simmons lead coming into the end of lap 1 with the #418 Suzuki of Tristan Jones hot on his tail, trailing by a mere 12 seconds and the #102 of Ron Suor 3 minutes behind him. Simmons kept the lead going onto lap 2 with a 1 minute lead over Jones and Suor still only 2 minutes behind him in third.
Coming across the finish line after 75 miles was Simmons in 1st, Jones in 2nd, and Suor taking the podium. Michael Tsosie won the Expert class with a 4th overall on his Honda, followed by the Tarno Racing and Motorsports #505 Yamaha of Travis Tarno, and Dave Jobski taking third in Expert and 12th overall with his Honda.
The UTV’s brought 52 to the start line this year, a very good number in recent years for AZOP. As they took off, the drivers knew it was going to be a tough 4 laps, traveling close to 100 miles. Coming across the end of lap 1 in first was the RnR Steel #1964 Polaris of Robert VanBeekum, followed by the #305 Can-Am of Tom Wilson and the #4524 Can-Am Garrick Lastra.
Things would shake up from here as the #1964 Polaris of Robert VanBeekum would end the day early on mechanical failures, as would the Mamelli Racing #1514 Polaris of Mike Mamelli midway through his second lap. Lap 2 would bring a whole new lineup with Mark Milne leading James Moore by 2 minutes, and the #405 Can-Am of Troy Dyer coming by in third.
Lap 3 would bring first and second through with Milne and Moore, and Lastra would pass Dyer to take third over. Overall for the Pro class would be Mark Milne beating James Moore by 58 seconds, and Garrick Lastra rounding out the podium. Overall at top of the podium would be the Polaris of James Moore, the Polaris of Mark Milne, and the Polaris of Ryan Ottersberg from the 1000cc Non-Turbo class. Other notable finishes are the Pik Motorsports #143 of Kali Kinsman, winning the 1000cc Turbo class and 8th overall, and the #114 Yamaha of Robert Olander finishing 4th in 1000cc Non-Turbo and 7th overall.
Last but certainly not least, the junior racers on both 2 wheels and 4 came out strong for their chance at desert racing on their smaller tracks. The 65cc mini bike class, which represents the younger racers, had Casey Weatherford on the top spot of the podium with a 3 minute lead over Chase Boyd and a 9 minute lead over Hunter Sixkiller. Tate Van Voorst took the overall win as well as the win in the 80-150cc A class, with Keegan Hardy 30 seconds behind overall, and winning his 80-150cc B class. The 80-150cc C class ended with Trevor Supalla taking the top spot and 3rd overall, followed by William Robinson (5th OA) and Travis Lash (9th OA).
The Peewee Bikes, who’s ages range from 4-6 years old, showed that the young guns of offroad racing are a force to be reckoned with. Marley Kuhn won the 65cc C class, followed by Ryker Jirsa and Bryce Petrie. The 50cc 4-6 year old class had Abraham Hassan and Courtney Curley on the podium. In the 50-70cc 7-8 year old class, Kaycee Curley, Chase Dugan, and Cooper Skersick rounded out the podium respectively.
On 4 wheels, Tyler Tsosie, following after his dad in the big quad race, took the #1 spot in his 250-400cc class and the overall win, followed by Caliber Racing’s Carly Senter Dirt Halo Racing’s Dakota Hibler overall and in class. Kasey Snyder finished first in the 90-300cc 10-15 year old class, followed my Caliber Racing’s Ryan Forward. In the Peewee division, Leighton Johnson won the 50-79cc 4-6 year old class, with Paisley Campbell taking second. Landon Johnson would take the gold in the 80+cc beginner class, with Sarah Tsosie and Brayden Earlewine finishing respectively. Pointless Racing’s Gabriel Simmons would win the 80+cc advanced class, with Wyatt Smith close behind.
The UTV 170 and 570 class showcased the future of UTV offroad racing. The 170 class brought out 24 competitors to see who can beat the unforgiving course. Ryder Chapman took the overall win in his Polaris 170, with Vincent Riccitelli and Parker Christian in 2nd and 3rd on the day. Xtreme Machine and Fabrication had a great day as their racers finished 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th. The UTV 570 class came out strong, racing in the transitional race between 170 and the big UTV’s. Ryder Chapman of Xtreme Machine and Fabrication yet again took 1st, followed closely by his teammate Jessie Owens. Riley Hein finished the podium off strong. Ryder VanBeekum would race with his dad as his co-driver and would race his rear wheel right off, finishing with a 7th place. Very well done to all youth who came to compete.
The Vulture Mine Offroad challenge is the hardest and longest race of AZOP’s season, and it proved to be so. Whether on 2 wheels or 4, the rugged terrain and long distances made the best of the best shine. Next race for AZOP is the Q-Town Grand Prix in Quartzite, AZ, on March 10-11, 2018. More info go to azopracing.com