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Dateline: 2018 AZOP Series, Round 3, Q-Town Grand Prix, March 10-11, 2018
The Round 3 stop of Arizona Offroad Promotion’s championship series landed in Quartzsite, Arizona. Hundreds of racers attended the first race AZOP has held in Quartzsite, including 47 bikes, 23 quads and 25 UTV’s in adult, and 43 Mini Bikes, 24 Mini Quads and 28 170 and 570cc UTV’s. The race was held at Main Event Showplace, a 40 acre piece of private land that was generously lent to AZOP to host the race on. The track was complete with a huge water jump set in front of the spectator area, followed by a tractor tire jump into the finish line. This race was a great one for spectators, and there were large crowds both at the water jump and along the ridge line above the starting straight. The big bikes started the day for adults, with the Pro Class #223 Husqvarna of Luis Kortright grabbing the holeshot ahead of the #151 Kawasaki of Clayton Hengeveld, followed closely by the #188 Blud Lubricants Honda of Wyatt Perry, 101 of Travis Azure and the x15 of Jeremy Newton. Kortright would hold the lead with Hengeveld only 7 seconds behind finishing lap one, and closing the gap to 4 seconds on lap two. On lap three, Hengeveld made the pass on Kortright and would not look back until the checkered flag. The Pro podium would stay the same until lap 10, when Kortright went over the handlebars while coming into the timing gate. Although hitting hard, Kortright got up, chased his bike 10 feet, and hopped right back on after shedding his goggles. This would put him back to fourth heading into the final lap as Perry and Newton passed the downed Kortright. In the next four and a half minutes, Kortright rocketed his way back to second, passing Newton and Perry to take the second step of the podium. Hengeveld kept is hand on the throttle and earned a solid first place by one minute and 16 seconds. Other notable finishes on day one are Jarren Atwater winning Open C on his Suzuki, Drew Farris winning Open B on his Suzuki, the Blud Lubricants Suzuki of Brian Perry Jr winning Open A, and Rich Heyer winning Master 50+ B on his Suzuki. Overall, Suzuki took the top step of the podium in four races.
The ATV’s were up next for the day and it was the #23 Pointless Racing Yamaha of Mike Sloan taking the hole shot and never looking back, leading every lap. Behind him was the rest of Pointless Racing and the Blud Lubricants riders Andrew and Erin Simmons, both riding Honda, battling the entire race and staying close to each other. Zak Haroldson’s Yamaha pushed all race to keep up, but ultimately fell behind and finished fourth. The podium for the ATV’s had the top step proudly taken by Mike Sloan by three minutes and 44 seconds, Erin Simmons and Andrew Simmons taking third. Notable finishes include Travis Tarno of Tarno Racing and Motorsports taking the Expert Class, Nick Helton taking the Sportsman Class, and David Ham taking the ATC 3 Wheeler Class.
The UTV’s put on quite a show this race. Between the water jump, tire jump and the uneven whoops this track had to offer, the UTV’s had a complete performance challenge on their hands. The AWC Racing Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo of James Moore took the hole shot with the #4 Can-Am of Dan Kelly hot on his rear fender and the #2928 Polaris of Calvin Matthews following behind. Coming into the timing gate of lap 1 the top three looked the same, and halfway through lap 2 the #990 Polaris of Kirk Sutherland took the whoops a bit too hot and cartwheeled through the air and landed in the middle of the track. After a quick flip and tow off track, he walked away intact. Lap 2 would also bring Dan Kelly into the top spot, and he would hold that for 5 laps until James Moore would put a pass on Kelly and take the lead with 3 laps to go, taking the checkered in first. Dan Kelly would take second place and Calvin Matthews would take third. In the 1000cc Non-Turbo Class, the 50 Caliber Racing #114 of Robert Olander would take the hole shot, followed by the #96 Polaris of Carson Crawford and the #94 Yamaha of Bradley Scanlom. Taking off from a bad start, the #27 Yamaha YXZ 1000 of Mike Spagnola came across the line in fourth on lap one, but through the race he fought hard, taking the lead in 6 laps and leading the rest of the race. The Blud Lubricants/ Winiecki Motorsports #903 of Kody Winiecki held a solid race, holding second on lap one and taking the lead from Barry Bennett on lap 2, pushing hard for four laps before Mike Spagnola took that top spot. Kody pushed hard to stay on Spagnola’s tail, finishing 18 seconds behind first. The bottom step of the podium went to Bradley Scanlom, who held fourth until lap 7 where he would take third and keep it. Overall, Kali Kinsman took first, James Moore took second, and Mike Spagnola took third. After the beatings these machines took from a fast but unforgiving course, all drivers would breathe a sigh of relief when the checkered came out. Notable finishes include Kali Kinsman taking the 1000cc Turbo class and the Blud Lubricants Clayton Winiecki taking the 900cc class.
The Minis and Peewee classes took the short track and showed their talent and promise. In the Mini Bike race, Jon Nordling took the 65cc B class, Makela Martinez took Women’s C, Tate Van Voorst took 80-150cc A, Gunner Deatherage took 80-150cc B, and Tyler Standage took the 80-150cc C class. The young guns came out to play in the Peewee race, with Marley Kuhn taking the 65cc C class, Courtney Curley taking 50cc 4-6 Years, and Jon Nordling taking 50cc 7-8 Years Old. On 4 wheels, the Mini Quads took the track and saw Tyler Tsosie win the 250-400cc class and Wyatt Rock winning the 91-300cc 10-15 Years Old class. The Peewees saw Lane Johnson win the ATV 50-79cc 4-6 yrs old class, Landon Johnson win the ATV 80cc+ Beginner class, and Gabriel Simmons win the ATV 80cc+ Advanced class. Last but not least, the 170cc and 570cc UTV’s came out fast and ready to rock. These young drivers are the future of UTV racing, and their skill and machinery show it. Ian Kowalski of Extreme Fabrication would take the 170cc race after leading the entire race, with Vincent Riccitelli coming from a 10th place start, picking his way through the field, and taking second. Third place went to Bailey Christian, who had second locked down until Riccitelli took it on lap 7/10. The 570’s showed up Sunday and showed they were there to race. Jessie Owens of Xtreme Fabrication started third but quickly made work of her teammate Ryder Chapman and the #1921 of Riley Hein and took the lead, finishing victorious. Ryder would finish close behind, and Riley Hein would round out the podium.