Gosselaar wins his first U.S.D.R. Desert Race
By Dave Earll
Photos by Tony Lamping
Honolulu Hills Raceway
TAFT, CA. 3-18-07
Competing for the first time in the series, Honda’s Caleb Gosselaar took the Pro Class win at round three of the U.S.D.R/Moose Racing California Desert Championship in Taft, Ca.
For the third race of the 2007 series, U.S.D.R. headed west to Honolulu Hills Raceway for its first “grand prix” style event. The course would consist of a 4 mile motocross track and a 7 mile desert section. However, after extreme dust conditions became apparent during Saturdays practice session, the decision was made to cut out the first three miles of the off road section. What remained was short but fun desert section containing fast roads and ridge trails, and a longer than expected motocross track. This would place a premium on good moto skills.
First to leave the line in the “timed start” format on Sunday was the Victorville Motorcycle center/FMF/Shift sponsored Kawasaki of Matt Henderson, followed by Gosselaar and Nick Burson, but as the Pros came around to complete the first of seven laps, it was Gosselaar who had made the pass and pushed his Fox/Dunlop sponsored Honda into the lead. Henderson was able to hold on to second on the track, but was now feeling the pressure from Burson as well. Coming off his exciting win at the last round, the AXO/BRP/Acerbis/Sunstar/Team Green racer was on a mission to make it two in a row! Following Burson through on the first lap was the Yamaha of Jonathan Camarena, motocrosser Shane Smith, and series point leader Ryan Kudla who was making up some serious time after drawing the last starting position.
By the forth lap things were really beginning to heat up. “I made a small mistake and stalled my bike” said Gosselaar, “it took me a few kicks to get it going,” that was all it took to loose the lead. As the pros flew through the moto section to complete their fourth lap, it was Burson who had capitalized on the mistake, and pushed his Kawasaki into first on time. With only 14 seconds separating the two, the battle was on!
As the race headed into the sixth lap, the Honda rider was able to lay down one of the fastest lap times of the day, and regain his lead over a determined Nick Burson. While the two riders at the front were fighting for the overall lead, this was by no means a two bike race. Coming up fast from the rear of the pack was the FMF/GPR/T.O. Kawasaki/Oneal/Maxima sponsored Kudla. By putting in some great, consistently fast laps, the Kawasaki rider was able to work his way up from last on the grid, and was now giving it his all to contend for the win. “I was disappointed to draw the last starting position,” said Kudla, “but as it turned out, it wasn’t that bad until the end with the lapped traffic.” So now with only two laps to go, Kudla was less than a minute behind Burson, and still in contention for his first win.
Around the motocross track and out into the desert for the last time, the race would be decided on this, the final lap. First to cross the finish line and taking the win was gosselaar, who had held the physical lead for the entire race but was unaware of just how close Burson was. “I took it a little easy on the final lap,” said Gosselaar, “I didn’t want to make any mistakes.” He almost took it too easy. By turning in the fastest lap of the day, Burson was able to pull back within 33 seconds of the Honda rider, but a small mistake might have cost him the win, “I chose a bad line on the final lap, it definitely cost me some time,” Burson said, “but I liked the course, and had a really good time!” putting in a great ride, and finishing third was Kudla, followed by Henderson, Smith, and the Yamaha of Camarena.