2021 6 Hours of Glen Helen Race Report
Story By Trevor Hunter, Photos By Full Throttle Photo, Trevor Hunter
After spending much of the last two weeks at Glen Helen helping with the Prairie Dogs GP, I decided I hadn’t had enough and made a last-minute decision to try and race the annual 6 Hours of Glen Helen. Friday afternoon, I was able to lock-in Chance Fullerton as my partner and started rounding up parts for the DirtBikeTest KX250X. Not having a ton of time on the Kawi, I was a little unsure of how it would go, but nonetheless, I felt it’d be a great test to see how it performed in a true off-road race. With little time to prepare, I stuck to the basics in our “race prep.” Robby Bell and the Precision Concepts crew helped us out greatly, loaning us an IMS dry-break-ready gas tank for the weekend. Additionally, Jay Clark with Dirt Bike TV helped us out with some fresh Dunlop Tires and a smaller 50T Supersprox rear sprocket. Last but not least, I installed some Nitromousse’s in the Dunlop Tires to ensure we make it through the race flat-free!
After a little bit of prep time, the bike was ready to race and we headed to Glen Helen early Sunday morning. We set the sag at 105mm for Chance who is a little heavier than me but had never ridden the bike, then went to the line. Surprisingly, the start line was packed with nearly 160 teams, and 12 Pro teams to boot. A quick glance down the line showed that we may have shown up to a gunfight with a little hand knife. Of all the Pro teams, we were one of two 250cc bikes. Nonetheless, we’d do what we could and hope for the best!
Chance started it off for us and got a terrible jump with the odd, both hands on the helmet starting procedure. For whatever reason, the usually quick-to-light KX250X didn’t fire up instantly and he was buried in the pack. But to our surprise, Chance came through the pits at the end of Lap 1 already up to 4th O/A and ahead of some heavy hitters. With ~15 ½ minute lap times, we determined four laps each during our rotation was optimal to stay on the bike for around an hour. Chance stayed relatively close to the lead group during his time which set us up for a positive start to the race.
For my first time out, I instantly felt very comfortable on the KX. The handling and suspension is some of, if not the best, that I’ve ridden stock on an off-road race model. The course followed a similar route to our GP the weekend before and provided a fun and flowing yet fast layout. Immediately, the lappers were abundant with riders of all speeds and skill levels all over the track. The first lap was pretty uneventful, but as I started on Lap 2, it started to get interesting. Coming into a tight singletrack section, there was a big pileup with riders stacked up deep. I snuck my way around the outside of most of them but came to a stop when two riders were stuck dropping into a tight canyon. Luckily for me, one of those riders was the 3rd place team. I tried to drop in through the bushes to get around the mess but got hung up on a footpeg sending me into the bushes head first. After fumbling around a little, I was able to get back up but wasn’t on the rear fender of 3rd liked I had hoped to be. Meanwhile, Justin Morgan of the SLR Honda team was right on my fender.
The chase was on as I tried to catch the YZ450F of Michael Del Fante while holding off Morgan on the underpowered 250F. Weaving in and out of lappers, we were both getting slowed up a bit and as we hit the fastest sections of the course, Justin outpowered me down a long straightaway and got around me. Once we reached the hills, I was able to reel him back in, along with Del Fante, and we all three followed closely into the pits and ending my 2nd lap of the first stint. In the pits, Del Fante’s team ended up switching riders, moving both us and SLR Honda’s team up a spot. From there, I tried my best to hang with and pass Justin, but I was unable to do so and lost 5-10 seconds in the next two laps. However, we did catch the Honda media team of Preston Campbell, Justin Jones, and Ryan Dudek who were running in 2nd O/A.
From there, Chance hopped back on the bike and after a lap or two, he was able to pass both Honda teams and get us up to 2nd O/A, though Mark Samuels was hot on our heels. As I got back on the bike, Nick Stover and the #1 bike were only a few seconds ahead of us. I hopped on track and went to work trying to chase down the shiny new GASGAS 450 he was piloting. I could see I was slowly reeling him in, but lappers were out and about, passing someone nearly every two seconds. As we came into the pits at the end of lap 1, I was right on his fender and eager to try and make a pass. We hit the hills on the moto track before going up onto the ridges, and to my dismay, he got through the lappers much better than I was able to.
I made two pivotal mistakes in back-to-back corners trying to get around lappers, and it ultimately cost us a lot in the end. I lost just a few seconds, but that led to Nick getting ahead of some lappers before entering the singletrack sections and me getting stuck behind. I lost quite a bit of time and had to push really hard to try making any ground up. In the process, Justin Morgan and the SLR Honda bike had fallen back a little which gave me some breathing room on 3rd place. During the last two laps, I wasn’t able to make up any time and handed the bike off to Chance a little ways off the lead. After a lap or so, Chance had caught up to Colton Aeck on the #1 bike and we were back in the battle for the lead. Going out on his final lap, Chance tried to make a pass on Colton, but blew out a berm and went off the track going up one of the Glen Helen hills which cost him some valuable time. Later in the lap while dodging lappers, Chance was taken out by one when racing past behind Colton. This set us back more than we could overcome, and ultimately cost us the win.
The last few laps for myself were pretty uneventful, just a lot of passing lappers and trying to survive on the beat up race course. We had a sizeable gap ahead and behind us, so I played it on the safe side and rode it in for 2nd O/A and first 250. Chance performed as I’d expected, riding really well and contending with the fastest guys out there, even on a smaller bike. Likewise, I rode the best I’ve ridden in quite some time and both of us were really impressed with how well the KX performed in nearly stock trim. The suspension could’ve used a little more bottoming resistance, but overall worked really well and was confidence-inspiring. Chassis-wise, the bike handles very good feeling light and agile, and precise, but still boasting stability and comfort. The motor likes to be revved to go fast, but it is a potent 250F motor. The only flaw we found with this bike is in the drive train. The chain stretched immensely, and we’re lucky it didn’t derail near the end of the 6 hour race. As a result of the extremely loose chain, we broke a few teeth off the countershaft sprocket. But, those are all wear items that are replaced from stock components rather quickly so we don’t fault the bike for that being its biggest flaw. Stay tuned for a later article going more in-depth on the mini bike build and the destruction 6 hours of racing will cause.
Thanks to those who supported this effort!
Kawasaki | Dunlop | Nitromousse | Supersprox | Precision Concepts/IMS | 1-800-Dent-Doc | Polisport
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