U.S.D.R. / Moose Racing California Desert Championship Round 6
By Dave Earll
Photos by Tony Lamping/off-roadphotos.com
RIDGECREST, CA. 11-9-08
What a year for Nick Burson, exhibiting sheer speed, consistency and confidence, the
young Kawasaki rider continued his winning streak by scoring his sixth straight victory
of the year and laying claim to his second U.S.D.R./Moose Racing championship. Not
since the days of Dan Smith and Danny Hamel have we seen a rider this dominant in a
desert race series.
While finding it exceedingly hard to mount a challenge against Burson, competitors
in race #2 did have something very exciting to look forward to as they headed into the
final round of the 2008 season. For the first time, U.S.D.R. would feature two separate
courses. One ten mile loop for Race #1 and a more challenging 17 mile loop for the
experienced riders in race #2. Laid out by open expert champion Erek Kudla, the course
promised a perfect mix of single track, super fast trails, and some very technical rocky
sections that are not usually encountered at a U.S.D.R. event. Universally loved by
everyone, the extra work put into the race was a success for the organization, and a
welcome change for the racers who seemed to love the added degree of difficulty.
While a different style course initially provided some hope to Burson’s competition that
a weakness might be exposed, it was quickly dashed as the BRP/Kawasaki rider took
control of the race from the very start. Following in the champions dust, Colby Begin had
moved his Snap on tools/AXO Honda into second ahead of Dylan Murdock and 15 year
old sensation Colton Sanders, competing in first race as an expert.
Although Burson was out to a commanding lead, Murdock had now taken over second
place and things were looking up for the Maxxis/maxima sponsored rider. After taking
six months off from desert racing to compete in the AMA hare scrambles series, the racer
from Oregon was showing no signs of slowing down as he set his sights on the leader.
Things would not go as planned however, as a wrong turn would send the Kawasaki
rider heading off course, effectively ending his chances for a win. “I don’t know what
happened?” said Murdock,” I was going after Burson, and somehow got off the course,
it’s a shame because I felt really good today.”
The battle for second would now come down to a Begin vs. Sanders match up. Rider
for rider, Begin appeared to have the advantage, but his bike would soon let him down.
“I started having some electrical problems right away,” Said the Honda rider, “My bike
stalled at the check and it took me forever to get it restarted.” Leaving Begin to kick start
his CRF-450 beside the trail, Sanders was off and running. With his competition right
on his tail, the Thousand Oaks KTM/ Panolin sponsored rider took full advantage of his
opportunity and dropped into second behind Burson. Begin was now back on track in
third, followed by Race #1 winner Steve Williams, competing in his second race of the
day, and number one vet racer Don Campbell who was also competing in his second
event of the weekend after clinching the District 37 Vet championship a day earlier.
As the racers headed out for their final lap, the race for second was once again heating
up! Begin had regained his lead over Sanders, but the young KTM rider was not going
to give up so easy. “I’m only on a 250, so his 450 would pull me in the fast stuff,” said
Sanders, “but his bike was having some problems, so I could stay close.” Begin would
lead the battle for most of lap four, but after a lot of back and forth, Sanders would finally
make a pass that would stick until the finish.
At the checkers, it was business as usual for Burson, as the defending series champion
scored yet another win and once again captured the U.S.D.R. Pro championship. “It’s
been an amazing year!” said the Kawasaki rider, “I want to thank my dad and all my
sponsors for this terrific season.” Second would go to Sanders after a very exciting day.
“We love racing U.S.D.R. and hope to be back for the entire 2009 season,” Said the 15
year old future off road star. Begin would finish the day on the podium in third, followed
by the KTM of Campbell and vet expert racer Mark Bowen.