Monster Energy Kawasaki's Destry Abbott locked up the championship – his fifth, by the way, tying him with desert legends Dan Smith and the late Danny Hamel – in the AMA/FMF Racing National Hare & Hound Series several months ago. Thus, he had little reason but to take it easy and go on a Sunday cruise at the 41st Annual Johnson Valley Championship, hosted by the 100's Motorcycle Club at North Anderson Staging Area of the Johnson Valley Off-highway Vehicle Area north of Lucerne Valley, California.
Of course, cruising is relative and for Abbott, his cruise speed coupled with a great start on his Pro Circuit/Dunlop/THOR-backed KX450F put him out front from start to finish, giving him four wins in the eight-round series that started in Lucerne back in January.
"It's awesome when it's start to finish – it makes the day a lot easier," he said while waiting for runner-up David Kamo to roll up to the finish chute ahead of Abbott's riding buddy and first-time desert racer Gary Sutherlin. "I thought I had a good line, and it worked out – first kick, pinned it and got to the [first hill in front], and once I got over the hill I said, 'All right, just be smart,' and I rode a good pace."
"This year's been really good. It's been nice to not have any problems this year."
After getting into second about 10 miles into the race, Red Bull KTM's David Kamo realized one thing: "I saw how far Destry was ahead [of me] and I was just like, 'Oh, I'll just cruise,' " he laughed. "So I pretty much just cruised the whole race." Despite a spate of crashes on the second loop, he got his Michelin/Motorex/KTM Hard Equipment 450 XC-F to the end of the three-loop, 110-mile race firmly in control of second for the second round in a row, and earned the number two plate for next year.
A Phoenix riding and training partner of Abbott, Sutherlin comes from a motocross background, though he's been hitting the WORCS tour and AMA Western Hare Scrambles Series this year. "Des kind of talked me into coming out and doing a hare & hound," he explained. Though he crashed hard not far from the finish, he put in a stellar debut for third aboard his Valcom Motorsports/Topar Racing/Mom & Dad-backed KX450F.
Kawasaki-mounted racers filled the next three spots, in fact, with Nick Burson and Jared Buoy on their 450s in fourth and fifth. Jacob Argubright on a KX250 passed KTM-mounted Paul Krause on the final loop for sixth with Nicholas Blais eighth on his CRF450X. Justin Imhof took ninth on his YZ125 while Steve Hengeveld rounded out the top 10 on his CRF450X after losing much time getting it restarted when he stalled it.