Just a few weeks after his father Rich succumbed after a short battle with cancer, Red Bull KTM's Kurt Caselli won his second WORCS overall of the season with a come-from-behind victory. CCR's Bobby Bonds took second in another display of massive skills and determination overcoming bad luck. Third place fell to JCR's Kendall Norman who scored the Honda team's first podium of the season.
The Olympia, Washington, course was long and thanks to heavy rains on Saturday, brutally slick and treacherous in the woods sections. Added to that was promoter Sean Reddish's devilish "WORCS-X" section of rock piles, tires, logs and other mine fields just in front of the grand-stands, which helped make the laps almost 15 minutes long as more then 40 of the fastest Pro 1 riders in the world lined up for the start.
Missing from the starting line was Red Bull/KTM's Taddy Blazusiak who was flown in special for this event who crashed hard in practice on Saturday was still hospitalized in Seattle. Also absent was Travis Pastrana who showed up and knocked himself out in the WORCS Xcross event on Saturday night. Zip-Ty's Ty Davis was spectating with severe bronchitis as was Zip-Ty Racing's Bobby Garrison still healing up from complications due to a broken arm suffered at Glen Helen.
When the gate dropped it was JCR's Timmy Wiegand pulling a massive holeshot in front of teammate Norman. Bonds got a very atypical good start along with Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ricky Dietrich and local hero Lance Smail. As the pack pulled away, Caselli was left on the ground inside of turn one and FMF Suzuki's Charlie Mullins was buried in mud on the outside of the same turn.
Like a good action movie, the next two hours would prove to be filled with "edge-of-your-seat thrills. First, Wiegand center-punched a tree exiting the MX course. "I thought I could take down a Redwood," said Timmy later. "But the tree was bigger then me so it won." Wiegand's lost fight with the king of the forest handed the lead to Norman who managed to pull away a good 30 seconds ahead of Bonds, Smail and Dietrich. The three Kawasaki riders battled each other and began closing on Norman after the first lap.
Then everyone hit the WORCS-X section and carnage ensued. Through the course of the next two hours at least five top riders would toss a chain in the rocks including Destry Abbott, Ryan Orr, and Blake Savage. Jamie Lanza would spend 45 minutes trying to fix his wounded mount in front of the grand stand. Then, the vertically challenged (5'5" and 125 pounds soaking wet) Lanza carried his Kawasaki 450F almost 200 yards back to the pits where his mechanic could legally fix the problem allowing Lanza to rejoin the race and salvage a single championship point.
Dietrich took over the lead before the end of the first hour and the Washington native looked as though he would complete a historic 4-in-a-row win streak as he began to gap the field. Meanwhile, Bonds continued his brutal habit of "fly and flick" as he blazed through the MX track, woods, and WORCS-X sections with stunning speed and spectacular crashes just to remount and do it over again.
Then, Dietrich visibly slowed. It turned out he'd been riding on a flat front tire for more then an hour in the already slick conditions and his strength and tire were shredded. Bonds, Caselli and Norman began to close as the clock ticked down.
All the while Caselli kept moving up. From last place into the top ten by the first hour, into the top five not long after that. Up into third with thirty minutes to go. Then, amazingly, as the clock neared the zero mark and the flagger got the white flag ready, Dietrich emerged from the woods with Caselli close on his rear tire. They raced the MX track nose-to-tail and jumped into the WORCS-X section and both cleared the first rock pile. But Dietrich stalled his 450 and Kurt pulled into the lead. While Ricky frantically kicked his 450 to life Caselli pulled away. Ricky would stall again before getting through the WORCS-X section, sapping his remaining energy re-lighting his bike, he would salvage fourth for the day.
Caselli took the win with Bonds scoring another second (five second place finishes this season) with Norman passing Dietrich for third. GNCC-star Mullins, who was dead last with Caselli after both went down in turn one, fought his way up to an impressive fifth in his western adventure.
Caselli, who ran a memorial sticker to his father on his number plate, was understandably emotional after getting the checkered flag. "It was really hard just to be here and try to focus on racing," said Kurt. "But this is what I'm supposed to do and what my dad and I worked for together my whole career. A lot of my family is here today and my team has been so supportive. I just want to thank everybody and we're going to go to the ISDE in Greece next and see if we can complete that dream for my dad and the US Trophy Team."