Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda’s Ryan Surratt made amends for his disappointing sixth-place finish at round three by dominating round four of the FMF AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series, the always popular Prairie Dogs Motorcycle Club’s Glen Helen Grand Prix.
Surratt’s wire-to-wire triumph helped him claw back a few points though he’s still second behind the day’s runner-up, FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team’s Dante Oliveira, 106-100. (Oliveira has podiumed at every round to date this season.) Third on the day went to Chaparral Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki star Zach Bell, his first podium since winning this race in 2021 as he continues to recover from his 2022 wrist injury.
“I got a good start and [just] rode the first half and right after halfway I started dropping those guys pretty good,” JCR Honda CRF450RX-mounted Surratt said. “At that point, I kind of settled down a little bit and just tried to ride smooth and consistent laps. I could kind of see them here and there—bits and pieces on the track—but they just seemed so far back. It was just take it into the finish at that point because I figured out I had such a big lead, I just rode it in. I didn’t expect that big of a lead, but I expected to come here and win, for sure.”
For Oliveira, the winner last year and reigning three-time series champ, the start seemed to be the difference today. “I thought I got a killer jump out of the gate but then just got pulled on the start and came around that first turn in, like, fifth, sixth place. Drag racing up that first hill, I got a couple passes; I just ate a bunch of roost, blew apart my goggles and these guys sent it the first lap super-hard. Ryan had a 20-second lead the first lap and I was just trying to catch him the rest of the race after that.”
Oliveira and his Factory FMF/Red Bull KTM 450 XC-F finally moved into second about an hour into the 90-minute, $8000 feature race and found himself unable to match Surratt’s pace around the much-changed Prairie Dogs course that drew universal praise owing to both creative layout and optimum conditions.
Bell, on the other hand, started strongly aboard his Precision Concepts KX450X, running second early before dropping to fourth when Oliveira and Purvines Racing Yamaha rider Justin Hoeft passed him. Unfortunately for Hoeft, a big crash about an hour in dropped him down the standings and handed third place to Bell, though the former champ wasn’t taking it for granted.
“It wasn’t easy—it’s still a struggle out there,” Bell explained. “I’m still working 100 percent, doing everything I can to race. This wrist injury’s been probably one of the worst things I’ve had to overcome. To be on the podium is really good. Some races are good and some races are bad so I never know when I’m going to get that day. Today I was able to manage a third.”
After an afternoon dicing with several rivals, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-road Team’s Austin Walton claimed fourth for the second round in a row, solidifying his fourth in points (at 65) behind Slam Life Racing (SLR) Honda’s Cole Martinez (who had an issue dropping him to 15th), who now has 70. Bell’s teammate Tyler Lynn finished a solid fifth for the second consecutive round followed by Walton’s teammate Dalton Shirey.
For the third time this season, Kade Tinkler-Walker claimed the Pro II victory, his first as an official SLR Honda team member. It wasn’t easy, though, as he chased Purvines Racing Yamaha rider Jack Simpson for about an hour before finally making the pass with his Monster Energy/Lava Propane/Fly Racing CRF250RX.
“I wasn’t finding any good lines at the beginning, so I had to let the race come to me,” Tinkler-Walker said. “I dropped the hammer one lap before I pitted just so I could get close [to Simpson]. After pitting, I dropped the hammer again. I listened a lot to my teammate Cole Martinez and that’s what he told me to do so I did exactly what I was told.”
With Glen Helen’s abundance of hills, Simpson’s task was much harder as he had no rear brake from the second lap on, but he managed to hold on to second Pro II and eighth overall behind his rival, though Simpson remains the class points leader, 101-90.
FMF KTM’s Mateo Oliveira (seventh Pro) and FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s JP Alvarez (third Pro II) rounded out the top 10 overall.
In Pro Women, 3 Bros./Alpinestars KTM’s Mikayla Nielsen performed as she’d expected at her favorite track and won for the second-straight round over 3 Bros./Hatch Racing GasGas-mounted Ava Silvestri with Reezen/Kilmartin Racing GasGas rider Lauren Woods third in her first appearance of the season.
“I’m pretty pumped on this one—I had a lot of fun!” Nielsen said. “I think I’m getting faster as the year goes on. I’ve been trying to play catchup because of high school water polo, so I haven’t been able to ride during the week as I really need to at this level, but now that water polo’s over, I think I’m getting my pace back and we’re just trying to keep my eyes forward.”
She leads Pro Women points over Silvestri, 106-96, with FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Kaitlyn Jacobs—who was fourth on the day—third at 72.
- Ryan Surratt (Hon)
- Dante Oliveira (KTM)
- Zach Bell (Kaw)
- Austin Walton (Hus)
- Tyler Lynn (Kaw)
- Dalton Shirey (Hus)
- Kade Tinkler-Walker (Hon)
- Jack Simpson (Yam)
- Mateo Oliveira (KTM)
- JP Alvarez (KTM)