Taylor Robert gets back to winning ways in Arizona
Words and Photos by Harlen Foley
Taylor Robert returned to his winning ways at round two of the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC WORCS Championship. The FMF KTM Factory Racing Team rider made the best of a fast start, which allowed him to sprint away from his teammate Dante Oliveira, who won the opening round a few weeks earlier.
Round two was held on the motocross circuit and surrounding off-road trails at Canyon MX in Peoria, Arizona. The fast course is known for its high speeds, so officials installed several Pro sections to help add technicality to the circuit.
In other classes, Mateo Oliveira took top honors in the Pro 250 division, while Brandy Richards bested the Pro Women field.
Robert had to wrestle away holeshot honors from Zach Bell before running off with the win.
“It was a really intense holeshot with Zach Bell,” said Robert. “We were side by side going down the hill and I really wanted to go into the off-road in front. Once there, I rode a really solid race and didn’t make any mistakes.”
Robert said that was key to winning the race. “I crept away from those guys by making the least number of mistakes,” he said. “There were a lot of places out there today to make some mistakes and I didn’t really make any. I was pretty excited at how clean my race was.”
He added, “It’s been a few races since I’ve won so it feels good to get a win again.”
Oliveira, the round-one winner, got off to a decent start in fifth, and he worked his way up to third by lap three. He battled for the second-place spot early on and made a mistake in the tire section that cost him some time, but he was able to recover and make the pass to overtake second once again on lap seven. From there, he settled into a good pace and maintained that through the checkers to finish second on the day.
Robert and Oliveira are now tied for the championship lead.
Bell, on the Precision Concepts Kawasaki, was running second ahead of Oliveira when he started having issues with his rear tire. Though he had to run the final laps with great caution, he still finished third.
“Once I caught up to Taylor, I was following him and picking off some lines,” said Bell. “I came in too hot on one of the long straightaways and the landing [off a small stepdown] compressed my neck. I struggled with some traction, but I gave it my all today. I just have to keep working.”
In Pro 250, Mateo Oliveira followed his KTM teammate Angus Riordan into the first turn but quickly took over the lead. From there he was never seriously challenged. After a hard crash in the first round, Oliveira was glad to get a win to help forget about the pain of an injured shoulder, which he suffered a week earlier.
Mason Ottersberg (Yamaha) was second, while Colton Aeck (KTM) took third.
“I got off to a great start and I trailed Angus until I put a move on him on the back straightaways,” Mateo said. “I came into this weekend trying to conserve points after I had a big get-off last weekend, so I’m definitely thankful to get the win.”
Ottersberg is new to off-road racing. The former motocrosser seem to be adjusting to his new discipline, as he passed Aeck in the tire section late in the race and overcame fatigue-induced get-offs to finish second.
“We’re learning and every race I’m getting better and more confident,” said Ottersberg. “I went down twice, and my bars were a little off, so I just had to regroup. I knew I had to just finish the race. At that point it was all about the points.”
Aeck tried off-road racing early in his career and it didn’t really work out for him. After riding motocross for several years, he’s back in WORCS, and he’s a contender. Aeck ended up third for his second consecutive podium.
“I tried a few off-road races back when I was a B rider and had a lot of bad luck, so I gave that up,” said Aeck.
In Pro-Am, Alex Morgan nearly lost the race before it started after spinning off the start line. After regrouping, Morgan rode his Husqvarna through the field, passing Evan Stice in the tires. He then took the lead from Cody Miller and fought him off to score the victory. Miller (KTM) was second and Stice (Honda) third.
“I came from the back after I spun [the rear tire] pretty good off the gate.,” said Morgan. “The tire [section of the course] was tough. I thought I had it down pretty well early, but I had a few crashes on the last few laps. I passed Evan in the tires, and Cody and I went back and forth. We diced for a couple of laps and then I found myself out there alone.”
Miller, who hails from Peoria, took advantage of having a race in his own backyard. Miller podiumed here last year, as well. “I was just doing this as a one-off, but I may come to some other select races,” said Miller. “I’m just picking out races that are fun.”
Stice led from the start, but the track soon overwhelmed him and the tires were tough on his run. Still, he held on for third.
“I got off to a good start, but I had never ridden a track like this and I had trouble with the tires,” said Stice. “On lap three, I couldn’t get over the tires as well as these guys.”
Brandy Richards won the Women Pro race, with Kaitlyn Jacobs (KTM) and Ava Silverstri (Yamaha) rounding out the podium.
“It’s a little hard to pass out there with all of the rocks and those guys don’t like to move,” said Richards. “It was hard, but I had fun.”
- Taylor Robert (KTM)
- Dante Oliveira (KTM)
- Zach Bell (Kaw)
- Mateo Oliveira (KTM)
- Mason Ottersberg (Yam)
- Colton Aeck (KTM)
- Alex Morgan (Hus)
- Cody Miller (KTM)
- Evan Stice (Hon)