Team Suzuki’s newest off-road racer, Ryan Hughes, stormed to an uncontested win as the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC World Off-Road Championship Series got underway at Speedworld MX Park just outside of Phoenix yesterday. The former motocrosser swooped around the outside of the first turn then dove into the lead on his FMF/ECC/Moose-sponsored RM-Z450 and remained in front for the duration of the two-hour race.
KTM’s Kurt Caselli managed to keep Hughes in sight for the first half of the race, but he stalled his FMF/Michelin/Moose 450 XC after his refueling stop and dropped several spots. Despite riding with a sore, stiff neck from a suspected pinched nerve suffered earlier in the week, Caselli managed to charge back and regain every one of the lost positions to earn the runner-up spot, 19 seconds back of Hughes.
Sophomore Pro Ricky Dietrich ran as high as second on his Carter Powersports/Pro Circuit/ARC Kawasaki KX450F, but couldn’t hold Caselli off at the end and settled for the final podium spot.
Hughes’ teammate Mike Kiedrowski and Kawasaki’s Nathan Woods, the two-time defending series champion, rounded out the top five.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff to learn, and I learned a lot today,” Hughes admitted. “The guys are fast, man; I respect all of them. Today was my day and another day might be theirs, but I’m just going to keep my training going and my testing going and try to do the same thing every race and try to be on the podium or win every race and try to come away with that championship.”