Oliveira Wins Cache Valley Grand Prix
FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Dante Oliveira kept Slam Life Racing (SLR) Honda’s Trevor Stewart at bay to win the inaugural Cache Valley Grand Prix, round four of the FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Austin Walton—the co-leader in points going into the race—assuming uncontested control of the points battle by finishing a strong third.
The first series visit to the Gem State ensured that no regulars would have an advantage as it was new to all but locals. In addition, the first race back after the extended lockdown offered another feature never seen before at an NGPC: genuine grass track and winding paths through cornfields! The Cache Valley MX Park served up nearly six miles of the unique terrain to augment its fun motocross track layout, and the reviews seemed to be almost entirely positive among the 805 race entries.
Actually, though, Oliveira and Walton did have a slight advantage in the form of their winning Club team performance at the 2019 International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Portugal. Of course, six Days is all about special tests, and those tend to be serpentine grass tracks. As for cornfields, few riders had ventured east of the Rockies to places like Indiana or Illinois, where GNCCs and other races incorporate those.
SLR Honda’s Cole Martinez—tied with Walton for the points lead coming into the weekend—got an excellent start aboard his Monster Energy/Skechers/Lava Propane-backed CRF450RX, but Oliveira wasted no time getting by and leading most of the remainder of the 90-minute feature race on his AEO Powersports/McGraw Powersports/Klim 450 XC-F.
“That’s what I wanted to do—just get out front and kind of separate myself from everybody else,” Oliveira said. “I worked hard over the break, and it paid off.
“I think [the emphasis on grass tracks today] might’ve helped [me] out a little bit. It was like being back in Portugal on those wide-open grass tracks, hanging it off the back of the bike, setting yourself up good for every corner because there were a lot of them if you blow wide, you’re on the inside coming into the next one. There was a lot of setting yourself up.”
Two-time and defending series champ Stewart hung gamely onto Oliveira’s rear fender all afternoon and even grabbed the lead briefly when the SLR Honda crew opted to have him go an extra lap before pitting to fuel his Pro Circuit/Maxima/Fly Racing CRF450RX.
“I was able to get the lead, which was really crucial; I think I pulled just a tad on him on that lap because I knew if I was going to do a real quick pit, I wanted to stay in front of him because the dust was brutal—it was horrid,” Stewart said. “Unfortunately, I ran into a lot of lappers and a lot of dust—and I know Dante did as well—so it was unfortunate, but at the same time, I know I rode to my fullest potential. I feel like I’ve had a lot of doubters this year, and I’d really like to prove them all wrong.”
At the checkered flag, one second separated Oliveira and Stewart.
About 50 seconds behind for third, Motorex/Galfer/Sidi FX 450-mounted Walton noted, “It was a fun day of racing, and I really liked racing in the cornfields—that’s something I’ve never done before, so it was a cool experience for me to try that out. A couple times, I got a little sketchy and almost went into the cornfields!
“Honestly, I felt good. The body’s a little shocked jumping back into racing [after six months of no racing], but all in all, it was a solid race.”
Martinez hung on gamely for fourth, revealing after the finish that he was nursing a recently separated shoulder. Being next behind Walton, he only dropped three points; unofficially, Walton now leads with 88 points while Martinez has 85, Stewart climbing to third with 73, and Oliveira vaulting to fourth with 69. Zach Bell missed the round after breaking a collarbone while practicing during the week.
Garrett Off-road Racing Husqvarna’s Ryan Surratt claimed fifth at the finish ahead of 3 Bros./SRT Husqvarna rider Dalton Shirey, Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda-mounted Preston Campbell seventh.
Defending class champ Tyler Lynn put his Purvines Racing YZ250F on top of the Pro II podium while claiming eighth overall (the Pro IIs started on row two), 10 seconds ahead of SLR Honda’s Tallon LaFountaine, the class points leader. Lynn’s teammate Mason Ottersberg rebounded from a poor start to earn third in class and 10th overall. Points-wise, unofficially, LaFountaine remains the leader with 100 followed by Chaparral Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s J.P. Alvarez (fourth in class and 12th overall) at 83; Lynn and Ottersberg are tied at 80 apiece for third.
In Pro Women, Fly Racing KTM-supported Brandy Richards extended her season win streak to a perfect four-out-of-four so far followed by Factory Connection KTM’s Kaitlyn Jacobs and Six Five O Racing KTM rider Ava Silvestri.