Lucerne Valley, CA – FMF KTM Factory Support rider Gary Sutherlin took his first career victory at the opening round of the AMA National Hare & Hound Series while his teammate Ivan Ramirez came from behind to also place on the podium in 3rd position.
Sutherlin had the best jump off the start and took the lead at the end of the long bomb stretch. Ramirez was not as fortunate and collided with another rider off the start which caused Ramirez’s leg to kick back and get stuck in the wheel. Although Ramirez did not crash in the incident, he did lose time removing his wedged leg and started last off the bomb. At the end of the stretch he had climbed to approximately 50th place.
Out front Sutherlin continued to lead and came through the first pit stop after 36 miles of racing with a roughly 45 second lead. Ramirez had charged up through the dusty course to 12th place at the end of the first loop about 5 minutes off of the lead ride.
The second loop was longer and more technical and allowed for more rider error. Sutherlin got stuck in a few rock sections which allowed the 2nd place ride of Ricky Brabec to catch up. The two then battled in and out of a ravine for the better half of the second loop before Sutherlin made a pass stick and went on to lead the remaining miles of the course.
“I knew once I made that last pass that he would not be able to trail me with how thick the dust was,” stated Sutherlin. “I was thankful because it allowed me to focus more on the technical terrain that was ahead of me and run my KTM in for the win.”
The team was quick to celebrate Sutherlin’s win but then quickly looked back to the course to see where Ramirez would cross the line. To everyone’s astonishment he managed to move his KTM into 3rd place in the last two miles of the race to take the final podium spot after his dead last start.
“I was able to move to 4th on the ridge a few miles before the finish and then got a glimpse of the 3rd place rider ahead of me on the course,” stated Ramirez. “From there, I just went all out and hoped for the best. I was able to make the pass on this big downhill section and just went for it. I got around him and finished on the podium. It feels really good to get a decent result at the first round.”
FMF KTM Factory Team Manager Antti Kallonen, stated, “We are very impressed with Gary (Sutherlin’s) finish today. He raced one event last season and before that had not raced this series in three years. He shows he has a lot of potential and we expect to continue to see him up front all season. It is also nice to see Ivan (Ramirez) return in good condition. He is in a much better position mentally and physically than last year and the off-season testing has made him very comfortable on his bike. We are looking forward to his progress as the season continues.”
Next Event: February 22, 2015 – Barstow, CA
Overall Results –
1. Gary Sutherlin – KTM
2. Ricky Brabec
3. Ivan Ramirez – KTM
4. Nick Burson
5. David Kamo – KTM
6. Skyler Howes – KTM
7. Axel Pearson
8. Dalton Shirey
9. Brandon Prieto – KTM
10. Colton Udall