FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Team's David Pearson rebounded from a disappointing opening round to win round two of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series at the Spangler Hills Off-Highway Vehicle Area near Red Mountain, California, on February 14.
The race's outcome, however, was not certain until the final minutes, as there were four competitors at the front separated by about 10 seconds as they embarked on the third and final loop of the Four Aces Motorcycle Club's 60th Annual Moose Run.
"Honestly, I don't ever remember a hare & hound [National] where there were five or six of us [with a shot at the win]," eventual runner-up Destry Abbott said. The Monster Energy Kawasaki start continued, "Going out on the last loop, we were within, like, 10 seconds of each other; it was unbelievable."
In the end, though, Pearson pulled off his first National victory since 2008, the season that ended prematurely for him due to a broken femur following three wins in the first four rounds. Spurred on perhaps by FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Race Team Manager Antti Kallonen, who insisted that Pearson lose 100 pounds, Pearson went on a diet after the opener in Lucerne, shed some 15 pounds and began near-daily motocross sessions in California, as well as switching to the 450 XC-F instead of his previous 530 XC-W.
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After swapping the lead with teammate David Kamo and then Abbott, Pearson took control in a section of huge whoops in a sand wash to seal the win.
"I don't know," Pearson said. "I've just been training my butt off and it's awful nice to get a reward by winning the race."
Abbott's runner-up on his KX450F moved him into a tie for the series points lead with third-place finisher (and last year's winner for the first time) Kamo after two rounds. Kawasaki of Simi Valley's Jacob
Argubright hung on for fourth, while Johnny Campbell Racing Honda's Kendall Norman fought back for fifth despite the rear brake locking on for much of the third loop after a rock bent the brake pedal.
After getting stopped to let a train pass and clear the course, privateer Kawasaki racer Gary Sutherlin nabbed sixth. Kawasaki-supported Ryan Abbatoye edged Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna's Nick Burson for seventh and top local honors, while Justin Imhof on his KTM 250 XC and KX450F-mounted Justin Morrow rounded out the top 10.