Mother Nature once again rained on the opening round of the AMA East Hare Scrambles Championship. For the third year in a row, the championship opener played out in nasty weather conditions with heavy rains and cold temperatures making the racecourse in Union, South Carolina, for the Deer Haven race a muddy mess.
Story and Photos by Kenny Held
The Mid-East club, however, did an excellent job making do with the weather and making track changes to accommodate the 400-plus motorcycle racers who signed up to do battle. Many of the participants who came from the north, however, were just happy to get out of the freezing rain that they had been dealing with lately. So, this was an improvement for them.
In the morning C event, the conditions were okay, at best, as the rain subsided just enough for their heat. During and before the main event, however, the skies opened up. Just getting to the start line was a challenge.
The main event was almost 200-racers strong with two full lines of Pro and AA riders. Pennsylvania’s Mike Delosa (KTM) started things off with the holeshot. The muddy charge began with each racer trying not to follow directly behind the other to avoid the flying mud.
At the end of the first, lap it was New Jersey’s Ryder Lafferty aboard his Husqvarna leading the way with Jonathan Johnson (Magna 1 Motorsports) chasing the leader a few seconds back.
Johnson was the rider on the move after having difficulty getting off the start line and entering the first turn well down in the field. Somehow, he managed to make his way to second place.
Beta’s Kyle McDonal was about 30 seconds back in third after the first lap.
Johnson continued to advance forward, eventually getting by Lafferty for the lead and would hold on to it to the finish in what ended up being a three-lap race that took just over an hour to complete. Johnson took the checkered flag 30 seconds ahead of Lafferty, with McDonal finishing up another three-plus minutes back.
Yamaha rider Cameron Sisk, of Morganton, North Carolina, was a close fourth, while Delosa rounded out the top five overall.
South Carolina’s own Matthew Nix was the top-placing AA-Elite rider in ninth overall, and Nathan Davis (Husqvarna) was the top AA-Expert rider in 12th.
“I got off to a good start running fifth until I picked a bad line going into a corner and buried the front end on the first lap,” said multi-time East Hare Scrambles Champion McDonal. “I found myself in last when I got going again. I just tried to pick good lines and stay smooth. I still managed to get stuck once on each lap, but with how quick the track was changing, I think a lot of others had the same issue. I had a good time on the track and made the best of it finishing in third overall.”
Beta’s Max Fernandez did an amazing job finishing seventh overall riding a 125cc two-stroke.
“The muddy conditions at the first East Hare Scrambles this year were no joke,” Fernandez said. “I did the best I could but had a couple of issues that set me back. It isn’t too often we get to race in conditions that are this muddy, so I tried to have fun with it and do the best I could.”
Rachel Gutish (Beta) started the season off with a win in the Women’s class, which ran during the morning C race. She took the overall win, as well, finishing ahead of Mike Sigety (A Super Senior) and Scott Harwell (A Super Senior).
“Conditions were brutally muddy—just the way I like things!” said Gutish who was aboard a 300cc two-stroke. “It’s been a [while] since I’ve gotten to enjoy a good old-fashioned mudder like this. I was really having fun out there, and I think it showed in my riding. I’m excited to start the season off strong with a win against some legit competition.”
The Youth main had quite a battle between KTM riders River Morris and Caleb Lane. The two battled the entire race. Morris led off the start but could not hold off Lane.
Lane took the win followed by Morris and Jett Leatherwood (KTM).
In the 50cc Pee Wee event it was Cobra’s Grayson Gordon with the overall win.
- Jonathan Johnson (Hus)
- Ryder Lafferty (Hus)
- Kyle McDonal (Bet)
- Cameron Sisk (Yam)
- Michael Delosa (KTM)
- Zach Davidson (Hus)
- Max Fernandez (Bet)
- Taylor Johnson (Yam)
- Matthew Nix (Unk)
- Ryan Quinn (KTM)