Americas most extreme enduro which has been dubbed a “motorcycle survival race” lived up to its name and reputation, but not so much for the very top pros. It’s a Jimmy Lewis creation and although Lewis is not a racer here, he does compete.
The King of the Motos is a way for Jimmy Lewis to challenge and beat the riders who enter this newly formatted 2-day event. But in an important way, the riders also challenge Lewis and his somewhat devious concepts of what an enduro course should look like. This time, the top pros beat Jimmy at his own race.
New for this year, a Saturday qualifying round was added to determine starting order for the 2 stage main event on Sunday, which would consist of an “easy” morning stage of 40 miles followed by a “tougher” afternoon stage of similar length. Qualifying for a good starting order would prove to be critical to the Le Mans-style, downhill sand start of stage 2 at the bottom of the famed “Chocolate Thunder”.
Saturday Afternoon, Qualifying:
Saturday’s qualifying impressed riders and spectators alike and was web-cast via live remote streaming. The 1-mile course was expected to take the fastest riders just under 4 minutes to complete but ended up being 20% easier than expected with Cody Webb coming in fastest at 03:00:17. Results from qualifying proved to be crucial as the races progressed through the weekend. A strong qualifying round would result in priority leading into the main stages.
Sunday Morning, Stage 1:
Riders started the 40-mile stage paired two at a time with 30 second. Interesting and importantly, the finishing order (not elapsed time) would determine the riders’ choice of “line” for the start of the “afternoon” stage 2, similar to priority “gate” selection in motocross. This aspect proved to make the qualifying even more important.
Former “King” Graham Jarvis, who is otherwise known as the best extreme enduro rider on the planet, stumbled in qualifying but managed to pass at least 8 riders in stage 1, even though fast sections are not his forte. Cody Webb and Taylor Robert exchanged the physical lead twice and Webb passed Robert after a bobble leading into the finish area. Although Robert bested Webb’s time by approximately 1 minute, Webb was first across and would draw first start position for the main.
Newly signed for 2014 with JCR HONDA, Colton Haaker missed a checkpoint in his otherwise stellar run in stage 1 and was later DQ’d but still allowed to unofficially ride the afternoon stage.
Sunday Afternoon, Stage 2 Final:
Getting inside Jimmy Lewis’ head is about as hard as riding one of his stages and he kept a very tight lip about his chosen method for starting the riders on the main event until only 20 minutes prior to the start. New for this year was the Le Mans-style downhill sand start, which would take all of the riders on to an immediate, run up the notorious Chocolate Thunder canyon. This proved to be quite a spectacle for spectators and fans watching at home. There was a melee in the canyon as a bottleneck formed but only after Webb cleanly led Robert and Redmond up the canyon. Jarvis bobbled and was thrown off guard like many others when the starter raised his arms before then dropping them. The cue was for riders to take the start at the dropping of the arms, but some eager beavers started running for their parked bikes the moment the starter raised his arms. Next year will likely bring a revised method for starting the main. Jarvis chose a right hand line, which proved disastrous for his start, costing him close to a minute and at least a dozen positions.
Viewers off-site were treated to a refined live web cast with remote cameras picking up there action in several of the harder canyons and helicopter footage was replayed throughout the web-casted, adding value for those at home awaiting the Super Bowl. The film crew also scrambled well to edit the morning highlights for the web cast, which were extremely well produced.
During the later parts of the final the news broke the Cody Webb was in trouble with a possible tire problem. Webb chose to swap rear wheels at the “parc fermé –style pit in between the main stages and switched from mouse bibs to tire balls. Although the speed of the open desert caused his tire balls to fail, they did provide enough support for Webb to continue, although at a much slower pace. Meanwhile, Taylor Robert and Kyle Redmond made up some of their lost ground with Graham Jarvis also battling to come up from behind.
Alas, as the crowd waited in mystery, a lone rider began the decent down the side of a rugged mountain with no trail in sight. When cameras picked up the shot, it was clearly Cody Webb riding at 70% toward the arches in the heart of HammerTown. As Webb collected himself on the podium, the clock ticked away the minute Webb needed to absorb the cushion Robert gained from the morning. Several minutes later the podium filled with the top pros who crossed the finish well over an hour early then mastermind Jimmy Lewis had predicted.
In the sense that Jimmy Lewis has created an event to test larger numbers of riders with his extreme enduro, there is a definite trade-off between making a course that is hard enough for the top pros yet feasible enough for expert privateers and sportsmen amateurs to complete. For the second straight year, Lewis under-estimated the top pros and thus they “beat” him at his own game. Yet, on the other hand, the masses of amateurs were clearly challenged and many them repeatedly called the “2014 King of the Motos” the hardest thing they had ever done.
Next year is sure to bring another innovative and revised format and its not hard to speculate that Lewis will create a separate “pro” loop or an additional “epilogue” stage to really challenge the sport’s top brass and, after losing 2 battles in a row, perhaps Lewis will properly “beat” the pros into submission with an event that is scary enough to attract the strongest Europeans into coming to the rugged California desert.
RDC EXCLUSIVE VIDEO
Results Riders 1-10
1. Cody Webb, 2:38:01
2. Taylor Robert, 2:40:19
3. Graham Jarvis, 2:47:19
4. Kyle Redmond, 2:51:19
5. Noah Kepple, 3:30:52
6. Mitch Carvolth, 3:44:39
7. Kale Elworthy, 3:57:12
8. Ty Tremaine, 3:58:00
9. Travis Coy, 3:58:16
10. Peter Weiss, 4:06:57
FULL RESULTS AND DNF LIST HERE
Photos by Jason Zindroski of HighRev Photography