After missing three rounds of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series with a knee injury, few people expected defending series champion Kendall Norman to be 100 percent when he returned to the series at round six, the Virgin Voyage hosted by the Vikings Motorcycle Club on April 23 at the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area outside of Lucerne Valley, California.
But the time off had apparently been enough to get the Johnny Campbell Racing Honda star back to his old self, and he ended up breaking Kurt Caselli's win streak, taking advantage of a crash late in the race by the FMF/KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team ace for his first victory since last year. Off-Road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valley's Jacob Argubright also snuck by Caselli to claim second while the KTM rider held on for third, maintaining his series points lead.
"I knew that as long as I just rode my own race, [it'd be best to] just see how this race went and build upon it," Norman noted.
After a so-so start aboard his Lucas Oils/Affliction/Red Bull CRF450X, Norman worked his way into second behind only Caselli. "It was kind of this yo-yo thing [of reeling Caselli in then losing ground]," Norman said. "But he was riding really, really good. It was everything I could do to stay right there [with him].
"Out on the second loop, I started making a few mistakes and he started pulling a little bit."
But Norman regrouped, pulled Caselli back in range and was able to capitalize when Caselli went down and ended up in a cactus. "He had balls of cactus all over him!" Norman described. "Dude, it sucks for him; I know the feeling!"
Norman went on for the win. Caselli got going again, but wasn't able to maintain pace so Argubright also got past, and that's where they finished. Caselli still has a comfortable hold on the points lead over Purvines Racing Honda-mounted David Pearson, who was fourth on the day, 157-141, unofficially. Monster Energy Kawasaki's Destry Abbott, fifth for the day, holds third in points at 125 with Argubright closing their gap with 121.
Norman's teammate Colton Udall scored his best finish of the series at sixth followed by Pearson's teammate Justin Morrow. Zip-Ty Husqvarna's David Kamo claimed eighth--his second finish of the series--followed by Concours Auto Body Kawasaki's Robert Underwood and John Burr Cycles' Chris Morrow, who was first 250.