Desert racing is rarely close, but the Rabbitt Creek 100 Jody Schlapia Memorial hosted by Dirt Inc. on March 19 proved to be exceptional. Serving as round four of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series, weather made the difference with plenty of rain on several days before the event keeping dust to a minimum and permitting the type of wheel-to-wheel racing usually witnessed only on prepped motocross tracks.
In the end, Kurt Caselli of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team proved he wanted it most and made the final pass of the race, thus taking his third-consecutive series victory and, with it, the points lead for the first time.
"I got out front early, I think [David] Pearson was behind me, Destry [Abbott was behind him, [Jacob] Argubright was in fourth and we basically just swapped positions for the whole race, 100 miles of just back-and-forth, back-and-forth," Caselli exclaimed. "It was awesome!"
That held true for both the riders involved and those watching them. Unlike the usual dusty desert race with several minutes between competitors, the chilly, windy conditions and minimal dust allowed everyone a chance to ride wheel to wheel. In fact, each of the top four spent time in the lead at one time or another, their battle carrying them away from the rest of the field.
"It seemed like it was kind of like Tour de France - everybody was kind of pacing each other [and you] couldn't break away," Monster Energy Kawasaki's Abbott observed.
Naturally, as the miles wound down, the pace intensified, yet it was still anyone's race. But after the final alternate gas pit, Off-road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valley's Jacob Argubright found himself in a position he'd never been in before: leading a National with Caselli and Abbott seconds behind and Purvines Racing Honda's Pearson trailing them by less than 10 seconds after a body slam when he discovered he'd lost his rear brake on a sharp downhill turn.
"Kurt pressured me and I got a little nervous and he passed me," Argubright admitted. "I couldn't hold [the lead]."
But Argubright's did hold on to a best-to-date runner-up finish, successfully holding off Abbott. Pearson came in for fourth while Concours Auto Body KX450F-mounted Robert Underwood continued his steady improvement this season to claim fifth.
Caselli's third-straight win vaulted him to the top of the points chart for the first time with 106 points, unofficially. Previous leader Pearson drops to second with 98 followed by Abbott's 88 and Argubright's 80. Purvines Racing Honda's Justin Morrow, sixth on the day, sits in fifth with 63 points, unofficially.