Off-road racing is alive and well at the moment and that was more than apparent at this past weekend’s annual 6 Hours of Glen Helen. Across the country, racing organizations are seeing record numbers in entries, support, etc and the 6 Hour, the largest of the three endurance races taking place at Glen Helen, saw an astounding 170 teams competing. Thankfully, the Glen Helen crew laid out its longest course to date, totaling nearly 10 miles and ~19 minute laptimes for the fastest Pro’s. This helped with the lapped rider situation, but it was still some of the worst lappers we’ve seen at these racers.
Making matter worse, a recent dry spell in SoCal left everything but the MX tracks incredibly dusty, silty, and challenging for most. The dust paired with some tight single track canyons made the lappers a deciding factor in the race and swayed laptimes by minutes depending on how clean of a lap you lucked into. This year, we got a last minute call from Kilmartin Racing to pilot a GasGas MC450F with support rider Shane Logan in the Open Pro class. A quick test session a few days before the race got us comfortable enough to go racing, but nothing prepared us for what we were about to experience come Sunday.
Shane started it off for us and held a strong Top 3 position early on staying fairly close to the lead riders, though the dust spread everyone out instantly in the opening laps. By lap three of the race, we had already started hitting lappers hard and slowing the pace quite a bit. Shane’s first stint was pretty uneventful and he got off the bike in 3rd Overall after four laps. As we gassed up, we got dropped down to 4th behind Ironman Pro JP Alvarez. Right off the bat, I had some unfortunate timing with lappers, having to pass a group of four as soon as we hit the dust while JP had cleared them just before leaving the MX track. From there, I rode blindly across the main ridge passing people left and right before dropping onto some dust-free asphalt.
The quick break in dust allowed me to pass a couple more lappers, but I was stuck behind them once again as we hit the dusty ridges a mere 30 seconds later. A rock shot up by a lapper went straight for my GoPro, knocking it off and leaving it buried in the silt. The theme of this entire stint was lappers and dust, with only one decently clean lap allowing me to put in a good time. On my final lap, while riding through a wall of dust, I made a quick stop to pick my GoPro up off the ground, though I really didn’t lose any time as the dust was so bad from a pack of lappers just ahead.
Again, Shane’s second ride was smooth with no issues other than lapped riders slowing the pace. He was able to pass Alvarez at one point, but when we gassed up and switched riders again, JP was close enough to pass us in the pits. I tried to make a move on him before heading into the hills to stay ahead of his dust, but was unable to do so as we stayed close racing through the lappers. A few minutes later, he tangled with a lapped rider and went down, really slowing his pace moving forward as he was over 3 hours into his day with no breaks. This second stint I felt much better and smoother on the bike, gelling with it better and riding it how a 450 should be ridden.
On the third of four laps, as I made my way through the lappers, I went to make a move but down a steep hill on two lappers at once. Just as I got to the front, I hit a silt covered hole in a downhill turn, riding the front wheel before going over the bars. Luckily, I didn’t get hurt or really affected by this much other than it broke my helmet visor and and knocked the wind out of me momentarily. I continued on and tried to play it safer moving forward as the lappers continued to get worse and worse ever lap.
Shane rode the final couple laps in a lonely third to finish 3rd Overall behind Purvines Yamaha’s Trevor Stewart and Ryan Surratt and Kilmartin Racing’s Colton Aeck and Nick Stover. The bike worked well despite not being setup for either rider or even for off-road. The setup included WP Pro Components front and rear valved by Factory Connection with a Pro Circuit exhuast and stock motor. Some of the regular off-road items like a Scott’s Steering Stabilizer, IMS Tank, Nitromousses’, etc were outfitted as well. Our tire choice was a Dunlop MX53F/MX33 combo and despite having zero moisture in the ground for most of the lap, they hooked up pretty good and lasted well.
Recap the 6 Hours of Glen Helen with all four 3BROS Kilmartin Racing teams ~