U.S.D.R. Desert Championship Series
“Crawford cranks it up!”
By Dave Earll
Photos by Tony Lamping/off-roadphotos.com
RIDGECREST, CA. 05-24-2009
Competing in only his second U.S.D.R. event, KTM’s Morgan Crawford did what no one
else has been able to do in almost 18 months, beat Nick Burson. Coming from behind
to score his first Pro Class win, Crawford was impressive as he put an end to the series
champions’ eight race win streak.
A desert race scheduled in the end of May can be a tricky situation, as temperatures in
southern California can reach triple digits at that time of year. Fortune was smiling on the
U.S.D.R. series this year however, as 80 degree weather greeted the racers for Round 3
of the 2009 series, so while it may not have been hot, it certainly was dusty. Racing with
limited visibility on a very fast course can be treacherous, conditions like these place a
premium on focus, consistency and patience.
Burson, of course, has all of these skills, as he has proved by winning every race since
December of 2007! Heading out on the first of five laps around the twelve mile course,
it looked like it might be business as usual for the Zip-Ty Racing sponsored Husqvarna
racer, as Burson would pull out an early lead followed by arch rival Ryan Kudla and the
rest of the field.
Believing that this might be his day, Kudla was pushing hard looking for an opportunity
to make his move on the champ. “I’ve been feeling great lately” said the T.O. Kawasaki/
AP Brakes sponsored rider, “I can bring the fight to Burson now.” The fight would not be
an easy one however, as a small mistake leading to a crash on the second lap would set
the stage for some very exciting racing.
When the competition is close and the conditions are dusty, track position means
everything and the crash by Kudla would cost him almost everything. Not only would he
loose the opportunity to challenge Burson, but he would also loose second place. Taking
advantage of the situation, Crawford now found himself in some clean air and able to set
his sights on chasing down the Leading Husky.
Coming through to complete the second lap, it was Burson leading as usual, but to the
surprise of everyone, by just 10 seconds over the flying KTM 530 of Crawford. Not too
far behind, Kudla would have to make a pit stop but still hold on to third. Running in
fourth, first time U.S.D.R. racer Justin Imhof was turning some heads as he came through
in front of Lites Class points leader Colton Sanders and fellow Open Expert competitor
Heading out on the third lap, Crawford made his move and passed Burson for the lead.
It may not sound like much, but in the U.S.D.R. series, it has been over a year and eight
races since anyone has made a straight up pass on the series champ. “I didn’t do anything
different today,” said Burson, “My Husky was working good and I felt great, Crawford
was just faster today.” While it must have been a big surprise for Husqvarna rider to get
passed for the lead, it was a shock for the crowd as Crawford crossed the start/finish line
and headed out for the fourth lap as the new leader of the race.
Running in second, Burson would have another problem to deal with, a fast approaching
Kawasaki. Sensing blood in the water, Kudla was pushing it to the limit, past the limit
actually, as another crash with only a few miles to go would end his hopes of being the
second rider to pass Burson.
With the checkered flag out and the crowd on their feet, Crawford brought his Blais
Racing/Wilson’s Motorcycles/Oneal sponsored KTM across the finish line to score his
first U.S.D.R. victory. “This is a big win for me,” said Crawford “I loved the course and
had a great time.” Burson would hang on to second and maintain his Pro Class points
lead. Kudla, although a little battered, would show some great speed on the day and claim
third followed by the very impressive Malcolm Smith sponsored KTM of Imhof, with
fifth place going to the Lites class winning KTM 250 of Sanders. Rounding out the top
ten in Race #2 were Travis Livingston, Sean Bradley, Steve Williams, Erek Kudla and
In Race #1 (featuring beginners and Senior 2 racers) Bernard Unhassobiscay made his
return to U.S.D.R. racing and stole the show by scoring the overall win. Unhassobiscay
made a second lap pass on the S-2 class point leader Steve Williams and never looked
back. Third place would go to the Honda of John Sides, followed by Open Beginner
Dillion Carlson and 14 year old Evan Kelly in fifth who was also making the best out of
his U.S.D.R. debut by claiming the Beginner Lites victory.
Saturdays kids race wins would go to T.J Olson in the Kids-2 class, Ryan Lazar in Kids-
1, Craig Jacobson in Pee-Wee and Robert Renfro in Pee-Wee Quad.