Ridgecrest ISDE West Qualifier Results

Mark Kariya | March 25, 2021

If there’s one place Preston Campbell feels comfortable, it’s the desert.

Preston Campbell at Ridgecrest ISDE West Qualifier
The E1 winner at the opening round two years ago, Preston Campbell returned with more speed and experience to take E2 in rounds one and two, giving him the overall for the weekend as well.

Photos by Mark Kariya

But the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda rider’s latest race wasn’t his usual hare and hound fare. Instead, he lined up at the Wagon Wheel Off-Highway Vehicle Area for the opening round of the AMA West ISDE Qualifier Series.

Held over two days, the event also served as the opening two rounds of the SRT AMA District 37 Sprint Enduro Series: the Prospectors Motorcycle Club’s 59th Annual Gold Rush Sprint Enduro on Saturday and the Desert Motorcycle Club’s (DMC) 2nd Annual Spring Classic Sprint Enduro on Sunday.

At the end of the weekend, Letter of Intent (LOI) E2 rider Campbell came out on top both days aboard his J.L. Ray/Pro Circuit/Fly Racing CRF450X with Pearson Farms/DT Racing GasGas-mounted Axel Pearson second and FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Mateo Oliveira third both days and overall.

The clubs laid out three special tests that the AA and Expert riders completed twice each day. Pearson started quickest on his Oakley/FMF/IMS-backed EX 450F and posted the quickest times in the first two tests of the weekend, though Campbell was just two seconds back.

Pearson, however, dropped significant time in the third test which let Campbell grab the lead. Though Pearson topped tests A and B the second time around, he lost 45 seconds to Campbell in test C on the final lap giving Campbell the day’s best score of one hour, eight minutes, 21.652 seconds. Pearson was the runner-up at 1:08:51.419. Oliveira claimed third in 1:09:36.532 aboard his Motorex/Direct Connection/Klim 250 XC-F practice bike.

“I felt like I was right at home,” Campbell said. “The enduros I’ve done out here, the hare and hounds I’ve done out here—I felt comfortable all weekend. No crashes, no tip-overs, no mistakes. When I’m on the line for one of these, I just go 100 percent because I knew [each test] is short and I just try to hang on for 10 minutes instead of an hour and a half or something.”

Though the tests started and finished in the same places on Sunday, DMC modified each with new sections, so they weren’t exactly the same.

This time, Pearson kept things even closer, and he traded test wins with Campbell all day. However, test C both times saw him drop time to Campbell, and at the end of the day, Campbell, once again, showed up atop the results with his total 1:21:49.188, Pearson just nine seconds back in 1:21:58.111.

Axel Pearson at Ridgecrest ISDE West Qualifier
Another experienced desert racer, Axel Pearson led early and won several tests over the weekend, but a couple suspected falls left him second E2 each day, as well as overall.

Though somewhat outgunned in the faster going of test A especially, Oliveira proved he could hang. In fact, he set the fastest time of the day in the final test (C) on Saturday, his time relegating Campbell to second best by just under three seconds.

Oliveira’s time for Sunday was 1:22:46.089—a laudable result for his first official Qualifier since his season in the WORCS Sprint Hero series.

One of the few who opted to walk the approximately seven-mile-long tests on Friday, Oliveira admitted that reading the terrain and course markings was probably his biggest challenge compared to the grand prix-style races he normally does.

“I enjoyed it,” he insisted. “It was cool to try and learn the terrain. I guess in this [type of] racing you have to really read the terrain a lot more to [decide] where you’re going to go and see what’s around the next corner. In WORCS and [AMA National Grand Prix Series races], you’re pretty wide-open after you’ve done practice.

“It was a cool experience once I figured it out.”

With just 15 seconds between each rider’s start in each test, though, Oliveira admitted that allowed him to sort of key off those ahead of him. He noted, “I definitely felt I was at a disadvantage [on the smaller bike] in tests one and two, but the third test was a bit more technical and the bike, I thought, performed pretty well.”

Interestingly, none of the top three has raced Six Days, though Giacomo Redondi has, being a former FIM World Junior Enduro Champion. The Italian finished fourth overall on his 3 Bros./Hatch Racing GasGas in his first-ever desert race after claiming fifth each day.

Mateo Oliveira at Ridgecrest ISDE West Qualifier
Though more familiar with GPs, and put in E2 despite riding his 250F, Mateo Oliveira adapted well to the sprint format and came away with third overall for the weekend.

Redondi observed, “It was really nice, a nice experience. It’s difficult [for me] because it’s completely different [than enduros in Europe, of course]. It was really high speed, but I really enjoyed test three.” (On Sunday, Redondi actually beat Campbell by a 10th of a second for the fastest time in that test on the final lap.)

Being ineligible for the U.S. team since he’s an Italian citizen, Redondi had to enter the Heavyweight AA division, which he won.

Utah’s Josh Knight has been on the U.S. ISDE team a couple times. He ended up fifth on his Rocky Mountain ATV-MC KTM followed by Kenda KTM rider Austin Serpa, Maloney Training Facility KTM’s Anson Maloney, Lightweight AA winner Nic Colangelli on his DT Racing/3 Bros. KTM, Precision Coatings/Team Green rider David Fullmer and E1 winner Bryce Smith aboard his MotoAdventure Kawasaki.

Rounds three/four take place next month in Arizona.

Ridgecrest ISDE West Qualifier Results

SATURDAY

OVERALL

  1. Preston Campbell (Hon)
  2. Axel Pearson (GG)
  3. Mateo Oliveira (KTM)
  4. Austin Serpa (KTM)
  5. Giacomo Redondi (GG)

SUNDAY

OVERALL

  1. Preston Campbell (Hon)
  2. Axel Pearson (GG)
  3. Mateo Oliveira (KTM)
  4. Joshua Knight (KTM)
  5. Giacomo Redondi (GG)

 

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Mark Kariya | Contributor Kariya spends way too much time in the desert, but we’re glad he does as he’s the man who gets us our coverage of all things sandy.