The 2017 King of the Motos was nothing if not dramatic: injuries, penalties, night racing, and a totally new format. Although the event has been part of Ultra4’s King of the Hammers for several years, it’s safe to say there’s never been a KOM quite like this. For the first time the event consisted of three different races (motos) instead of one final preceded by qualifiers. The riders’ finishing positions in each were added together, with the lowest combined score winning. Jimmy Lewis, the mastermind and driving force behind the race, said the new format primed the event for good racing. It gave riders a chance to make up for a bad race, and there could be three types of events in one—a night race, a desert race, and an extreme race.
Oh, yeah, and promoter Lewis put a premium on navigation instead of having the riders follow markings.
In the end, Colton Haaker topped the 2017 edition of King of the Motos, though the win was somewhat controversial since Cody Webb actually crossed the finish line first but missed a checkpoint just before the end of the race, dropping the FMF KTM rider to seventh.
According to Lewis, the emphasis on navigation is to allow riders to get back to reading the terrain rather than reading arrows. “Each year I’ve been using less and less marking. This year, I just decided I didn’t want to mark anything but the checkpoints, so the riders were relying solely on GPS navigation. We used a tracking device called the Yellow Brick Navigation System, which notified us when a rider went through a checkpoint. We provide the riders with a track log, which is basically just a line directing the rider to the next checkpoint.”
Lewis told us he doesn’t require the riders stay on the course, as long as they go through each checkpoint. He also doesn’t mark danger areas because he tells the riders before the race that the entire course is dangerous, adding that what is dangerous for one rider may not be dangerous for riders like Webb or Haaker.
“Cody Webb was clearly the best navigator out there,” Lewis said. “He just made a mistake five minutes before the finish of the race and missed a check. He basically came over the hill and he saw Hammertown and he just quit looking at his GPS and rode in the same way he did in the morning race, which was the wrong way. He missed a canyon you had to go through to get to the final checkpoint.”
The mistake handed the win to Haaker, who had to overcome a setback earlier in the race when he stopped to assist Taylor Robert, who had crashed and needed assistance.
Colton stopped for approximately a minute and a half to check on Taylor, and thanks to the GPS navigation system, the promoters were able to tell how long Colton (and others) had stopped to help and were able to adjust times after the race.
“At the time, Colton gave up his race to help Taylor,” Lewis said. “But we were already on the way with help because a helicopter had been following the leaders and notified us on the crash and that Taylor needed help.”
We checked in with Taylor Robert at the end of March. The KTM factory racer lost 22 pounds while in the hospital but had gained 12 back. The doctors removed 12 inches of his small intestine and he was still healing from the process but had been bicycling, doing a bit of trail riding, and slowly trying to get back in shape. He is out of contention for the two championships he was contesting this year, so there is no urgency to get back on the bike, but this year’s ISDE in France is the big goal that Taylor has set for himself.
ENDUROCROSS RACE FORMAT REVAMPED
This February, Bonnier Corporation, Dirt Rider ’s parent company, made a deal to take over the promotion rights for the Endurocross series. Eric Peronnard, the sport’s creator, and Lance Bryson, Director of Special Events, will rejoin the Dirt Rider family, and Peronnard is promising to bring exciting changes to the sport as it prepares for its 14th season in the United States.
NEW FORMAT FOR THE NEWLY NAMED SUPER ENDUROCROSS CLASS
• Top eight riders in the standings automatically qualify
for the main event. • Qualifying race to seed five additional riders into field. • Gate pick-determining seven-lap race also awards one
point to the winner. • The top 12 riders of the qualifier go into bracket racing (four brackets of three, then two brackets of two, and one final bracket of two). Winner of the final bracket collects one point. • LCQ (two riders transfer to 15-man main event) • Fourteen-lap final with a new feature at some locations: a “no joke lane” ridden once during the race by each participant. • In addition to the Super Endurocross class, four support
amateur classes: Vet, Women, Trials, and Amateur.