After a season of tight battles between Zip Ty Yamaha's Russ Pearson and Team Green Kawasaki's Destry Abbott, the two former Hare & Hound Champions were nearly tied up after 6 of 7 rounds, making the final round of the 2006 National Hare & Hound Series a winner take all. Sunday's battle through the dust in California's Lucerne Valley was a close one, with both Pearson and Abbott leading the race at one point. But ultimately, it was Abbott with the win, and the Championship.
"I was first at the bomb," Abbott said. "Russ had a really good line on the left and actually passed me just past it. I followed him for maybe half a mile, dropped into a wash and he got into some whoops. My line, I overshot the corner, but it had no whoops and I was able to pass him back."
It is rarely an advantage when a rider overshoots a corner, but in Abbott's case, it worked out. Pearson recalls the same moment. "[Destry] went off the course and kinda swapped. But he went into a smooth section. I was in the big whoops and he just went right around me. After that, it was just dust."
Though Pearson never let Abbott get too far away, he wasn't able to retake the lead since the dust made it difficult any time he got close.
"I caught up to him a couple times, like almost right on him," Pearson said. "But by the time I'd get him, it was just real dusty. No real excuses; the course was good. [Destry] rode a good race and I just couldn't catch him."
"It was just awesome," Abbott said of his season-long battle with Pearson. "I was just excited to be able to win this thing and race down to the wire with Russ, both of us go one-two off the start and I said, ‘That's good. We're both going to have a clean race.'"
As Abbott crossed the finish line, he looked back, but there was no sign of Pearson anywhere.
"Right at the very end I had some troubles," Pearson said. "I don't know what it is. I could feel my bike getting hot; we were just pushing it out there. I couldn't get a finish, which sucks. I always like finishing, but hats off to Destry. He rode a really good race."
Abbott almost had similar troubles after smashing his radiator.
"I lost my water about 20 miles ago." Abbott said. "In the last five miles I could hear it make a little more noise, but I didn't know I lost the water. I just knew I hit [the radiator] and I just thought the bike was getting tired. I was riding it hard as I could because if [Russ] passed me, it was over. I was just lucky. Today was my day, for sure."
Honda's Kendall Norman finished second overall followed by Carl Maasberg, marking his best win of the season. David Kamo and Matt Gosnell rounded out the top five.