FMF KTM Factory Off-road Racing Team’s Dante Oliveira returned to his familiar spot on top of the podium after a start-to-finish victory at the second annual Bark Buster Hare Scramble hosted by the National Hare & Hound Association (NHHA) at the always popular Hannegan Speedway in Bellingham, Washington.
In taking the overall ahead of Pro 250 winner Jaden Dahners and Liqui Moly Beta’s Joe Wasson, Oliveira padded his series points lead over defending champ Giacomo Redondi, the 3Bros./Hatch Racing GasGas pilot a strong second for most of the two and a half hours until crashing heavily in the final moments. He managed to pull himself off the deck and slowly made his way to the finish despite a possible concussion, salvaging fourth in Pro/AA and fifth overall. After five rounds of the AMA West Hare Scrambles (WHS) Regional Championship Series, Presented by MojoMotoSport, Redondi now trails Oliveira by 18 points in Pro/AA, 141-123.
Though he claimed he couldn’t find his flow in the early going aboard his Red Bull/Motorex/Thor-sponsored 450 XC-F, Oliveira quickly found his groove and began inching away from his closest pursuer, Redondi.
“Once I got a couple more laps under my belt, I started flowing around, standing up a little more, linking a couple of the switchbacks together, carrying the front wheel over some roots, hopping around—it was a super-fun day!” Oliveira said.
After nearly looping out his Beta 480 RR at the start and leaving the line last, Wasson had his work cut out for him but made it happen with a smoother approach to the Hannegan Speedway course, generally the tightest one of the series. He passed his way into fourth behind teammate Zane Roberts, but by then, Oliveira and Redondi were out of reach.
Wasson said, “I knew I had to ride a gear high [to be smoother], not be too aggressive on the throttle just because it was so tight and we are riding the 480 which is a pretty big bike for the tight Bellingham woods. There’s a lot of tough competition this year, a lot of solid riders, so it hasn’t been easy to get on the podium and I haven’t really made it easy on myself, but this round I was finally able to go out there and ride a smooth race and not make any mistakes.” (His only previous WHS podium this season was at round two.)
For Washington resident Dahners and his AmeriCool/TBT Racing Suspension/Answer YZ250FX, the tight woods were right up his alley as he got a good start and led every lap in the Pro 250 class en route to passing most of the Pro/AA riders who’d started a minute ahead of his row, giving him targets to shoot for.
“It finally worked out; I’m pretty excited,” Dahners said. “The last three laps [were the best]. Zane was a big push on me, following a real Pro.”
Coincidentally, the last part of the race was also the best for Roberts who actually turned his fastest lap on the final circuit aboard his Enduro Engineering/Seat Concepts/Klim 480 RR en route to third Pro/AA and fourth overall.
“Every time I come up to do a Pacific Northwest race, I’m like, ‘Oh, I need to come up here and train on this stuff.’ I’m not good at it—it takes me an hour to figure out what I’m doing and get moving,” the Nevada desert racer lamented. “To be honest, I was a bit tired of traveling and stuff so I didn’t want to make the 28-hour round trip to Washougal last weekend to race.”
He added, “Those [Pro] 250 guys coming up [behind me], I let both of them get by because I didn’t want to get in the way of their battle but then I started chasing them and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this [pace]! That’s kind of what got me going. Physically I got back by them, but Jaden got me on [overall] time.”
Redondi got to the finish in time to salvage fifth overall followed by JMC Motorsports/Just1 GasGas rider Layton Smail (the Pro 250 runner-up) and MotoSport Hillsboro GasGas-mounted Tyler Vore (third Pro 250). Vore remains atop Pro 250 points over Smail, 124-112, with Dahners moving into third with 100.
In a last-minute decision, Anson Maloney borrowed a 250 XC-F from the injured Anthony Ferrante, slapped his suspension on and rode to fourth Pro 250, and eighth overall ahead of defending-class champ Mason Ottersberg of the Dallas Chidester (DC) Racing Sherco squad. Canada’s Owen McKill made the trip across the border to test his fitness after breaking his back a couple months ago and ended up 10th overall and fifth Pro/AA aboard his Rider’s Edge GasGas.
The morning race saw Alpinestars/Piston Bones KTM 250 XC-F-mounted Mikayla Nielsen charge off the line to lead for just over an hour of the 90-minute race. Defending Pro Women’s champ Ava Silvestri, however, was on the move after a last-place start.
“Luckily, I ended up catching her and put a little pressure on her, causing her to make a mistake and went by her,” the 3Bros./Hatch Racing GasGas rider said. “Unfortunately, I made a mistake and she ended up hitting me [and slamming the ground]. I made it out of that in front of her and kind of just rode to the end.”
That allowed the Factory Connection/Dunlop/Troy Lee Designs EX 250F-mounted champ to pad her points lead over Nielsen, 136-126. Local college student Olivia Pugh made a rare appearance on her Fun Country Powersports KTM to claim third.
- Dante Oliveira (KTM)
- Jaden Dahners (Yam)
- Joseph Wasson (Bet)
- Zane Roberts (Bet)
- Giacomo Redondi (GG)
- Layton Smail (GG)
- Tyler Vore (GG)
- Anson Maloney (KTM)
- Mason Ottersberg (She)
- Owen McKill (GG)
Click here for more off-road racing news.