Round two of the AMA Eastern National Hare Scrambles series on May 10 brought racers out to Port Elizabeth, New Jersey - a mere five miles from the residence of Shock Doctor Muscle Milk KTM's Mike Lafferty. It came as little surprise that the eight-time National Enduro Champion showed up to take top honors, but not before enduring a race-long battle with defending Eastern Hare Scrambles Champion Jason Raines.
Christini/Axis rider Wally Palmer grabbed the holeshot and was off with the early lead until he was quite literally throttled by the local wildlife. The Christini/Axis rider got tangled in a thorny "sawbrier" vine that wrapped around his neck causing multiple cuts. From there, Palmer slipped back, clearing the way for Lafferty and Raines to do battle for nearly the entire duration of the three-hour race.
"Me and Jason pushed each other hard," Lafferty said. "It's good to race head-to-head with somebody and not worry about being taken out. It reminded me of our old GNCC days."
The two diced it up on the soft, sandy 11-mile course, but Lafferty would not be denied the win on his home turf.
"Basically we were dead-even all day long," Raines commented of Lafferty. "His dad laid out the track and I knew he'd be tough out here. He just didn't make any mistakes. I just made a little mistake on the last lap and went off the trail."
That was all Lafferty needed to gain the upper hand once and for all, and he took the win in New Jersey. Am-Pro FMF Yamaha's Jason Raines held on to take the runner-up position while Palmer rounded out the podium.
Though he had to settle for second, Raines has established himself in the lead of the Eastern National Hare Scrambles Championship. The next stop of the series is in two weeks time in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, where Raines is looking to continue his title defense.