After two rounds of disappointing results, five-time and defending AMA National Hare & Hound Champion Destry Abbott emerged the winner of round three, the King of the Desert National presented by Roadrunner Off-road Racing and Threat Racing at the Superstition Mountains Off Highway Vehicle Area west of El Centro, California.
But victory could just as easily have gone to either of two of his rivals, Shock Doctor/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team's David Pearson and his KTM-supported cousin, Russell Pearson, as the three waged an epic race-long slugfest. On this day, none of them could break away from the others over the two-loop course with its fast 55-mile first loop on the flats and its 40-mile final loop winding through the sand dunes and rocky, technical canyons.
"That was a wild one, for sure!" Monster Energy Kawasaki's Abbott exclaimed at the finish while resting aboard his Pro Circuit KX450F. "It was so close that whole second loop—Russ, David and myself were constantly going back and forth. At one point I'd be leading and the next mile I'd be in third!"
Russell Pearson blitzed the start on his Montclair Motorsports/Pearson Brothers Construction KTM 505 XC-F and led most of the first half of the race. But as they got into the second loop, the standings quickly became far more uncertain. Missed corners, crashes and more affected all three men, leading to frequent position swaps until finally David Pearson had what he thought was a secure lead on his Michelin KTM 530 XC-W. Unfortunately for him, Abbott had one more trick up his sleeve and powered past with about three miles to go to seal the deal.
Round two victor David Kamo had a rough day, with a couple crashes making him reluctant to push the pace on the second Shock Doctor/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team 530 XC-W. Nonetheless, he persevered to earn fourth and keep his series points lead. He now has 73 points over David Pearson's 65 while Abbott's win tightens things up as he sits third with 63, unofficially. Russell Pearson holds fourth at 51 while Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna's Nick Burson, fifth on the day, is fifth in points as well with 44.
Burson's teammate Gary Sutherlin had fifth place practically sewn up but crashed spectacularly within sight of the checkered flag, suffering a separated shoulder. As he struggled painfully to get back aboard his own Malcolm Smith Motorsports machine, Burson and Jacob Argubright motored past for fifth and sixth, respectively. Sutherlin earned seventh and a trip to the hospital.
Matt Henderson, Jordan Brandt and Justin Morrow (the first 250) rounded out the top 10.