FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team’s Dante Oliveira had a minor hiccup at round one of the FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series, finishing third in the mud. But he rebounded nicely to win at round two aboard his Red Bull/Motorex/Thor-sponsored 450 XC-F and added another triumph at round three, the Prospectors Motorcycle Club’s Gold Rush Grand Prix at Shorty’s Sports Park. Slam Life Racing (SLR) Honda teammates Cole Martinez and Tallon LaFountaine claimed second and third, Martinez setting a very quick early pace before Oliveira got by him.
“Massive thanks to my trainer, Jared Becker; he’s a huge help and one of the biggest parts to my program,” Oliveira said. He continued, “Normally, we don’t send it like that the first half of the race. Normally, Cole likes to ease into it and then charge the last half. When he was charging the first half, I was like, ‘I’m ready for it…I had a couple better spots and ended up catching him in the pits, but we had some problems of our own but just kept our head down and stayed strong and I’m stoked with the results!”
After chasing Martinez for the first half of the 90-minute, $8000 feature race, the three-time and reigning NGPC champ stayed just out of reach, though Martinez and his Monster Energy/Skechers/Fly Racing CRF450RX remained in contention the rest of the race.
“Some of these off-road tracks, you’ve got to be real patient and not over-ride, be smart and give her the beans at the end,” Martinez explained. “But today I feel like we had a really good racetrack that we could race hard the whole way. Me and Dante smashed the whole race. It was fun; we don’t get to race like that too often.”
Their battle carried them a minute and 21 seconds ahead of SLR Honda’s Tallon LaFountaine, riding with newfound confidence after his first WORCS overall last week. The Lava Propane/Showa/Alpinestars CRF450RX rider said, “I had to dig deep. I was buried in the pack on the first lap and I just chipped away at them and finally got to the front.
“I know I belong up front now. I don’t even need to think about that anymore, it’s not a question. It’s a good feeling.”
Among LaFountaine’s victims was Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-Road Team’s Austin Walton. Seventh at the end of the first lap, he gradually worked his way to third before LaFountaine got the best of him with about 25 minutes to go. “We were able to get off to a good start, manage the race and put a good charge in despite some challenges along the way,” Walton said.
Despite being under the weather, Chaparral Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s Tyler Lynn finished fifth with a comfortable margin over sixth-place Ryan Surratt, the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda star now second in points to Oliveira, 81-70. Martinez is third at 64 points.
FMF KTM’s Mateo Oliveira was a mere second behind Surratt while Kade Tinkler-Walker made it two in a row in Pro II with his eighth overall. This time, however, he was on a different red machine—a CRF250RX provided by a friend and prepared by SLR Honda—and still fast enough to work his way from a mediocre start to top the class again.
“I’ve ridden [both] four-strokes and two-strokes my entire life so it’s not that big a deal,” he insisted. “A lot can happen in the sand—it’s a little more difficult than hardpack—so I just tried to do my own thing, get to the front as quickly as I could. No big deal; just be careful of the lappers and I did what I did.”
Purvines Racing Yamaha rider Jack Simpson ended up ninth overall, seven seconds behind the Canadian with FMF RPM Racing KTM’s J.P. Alvarez another seven seconds back and 10th overall. Simpson remains the Pro II points leader with 76, Tinkled-Walker now second with 60 and 3 Bros./Hatch Racing Husqvarna-mounted Kai Aiello (fourth Pro II and 14th overall) is third at 54, unofficially.
With Brandy Richards—the West Coast queen of off-road racing—still in the hospital following a crash in practice the week before, the Pro Women win was up for grabs.
However, 3 Bros./Alpinestars KTM’s Mikayla Nielsen jumped out to an early lead and proved unapproachable the rest of the afternoon—even more impressive considering this was her first visit to Shorty’s and was only her third time racing the class. But following her third at round one and second at round two, her trajectory pointed to this, though the high schooler noted, “I wasn’t expecting it [and] it’s unfortunate that Brandy got hurt—I just hope and pray that she’s okay—but I just came into this race knowing anyone could win. I was a little nervous about this one just because I’ve never been here so I certainly do have confidence going into [round four at] Glen Helen because it’s my favorite race track ever!”
Ava Silvestri on her 3 Bros./Hatch Racing GasGas finished second with former AMA Hare & Hound National Pro Women Champion Britney Gallegos jumping into the mix for only the second time and earning third aboard her Gallegos Racing/Bobby J’s Husqvarna. CN
- Dante Oliveira (KTM)
- Cole Martinez (Hon)
- Tallon LaFountaine (Hon)
- Austin Walton (Hus)
- Tyler Lynn (Kaw)
- Ryan Surratt (Hon)
- Mateo Oliveira (KTM)
- Kade Tinkler-Walker (Hon)
- Jack Simpson (Hon)
- JP Alvarez (KTM)
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