WIENEN WINS THE BATTLE, NATALIE WINS THE WAR, AS JESSE WEST NABS HIS FIRST QUAD TERRAIN 4X4 CHAMPIONSHIP
The final round of the World Power Sports Association (WPSA) ten-round series was held on the gentle rolling slopes of Boswell, Pennsylvania at the moto complex known as the Field of Dreams Motocross Park. Even though Suzuki had already captured the motocross portion of the Manufacturer’s Cup in this series, the individual riders championship had yet to be determined. Both the motocross series and the Quad Terrain Challenge 4x4 event were held on the same course in Pennsylvania, with one of the toughest 4x4 courses of the season inside the perimeter of the Field of Dreams race track. A giant mud-filled ditch led onto what would be the biggest boulder-strewn section seen so far in this competitive 4x4 racing season.
MOTO CIRCUIT On Saturday, a couple of motocross heat races put Suzuki’s Dustin Wimmer within nine points of the series leader, Honda-mounted John Natalie. At the start of the main on Sunday, Natalie grabbed the holeshot with Wimmer and Wienen running in third and fourth spot. Both Suzuki racers moved up a position by passing a strong-running Kawaski KFX450-mounted Josh Creamer. Josh had a good race, holding the Suzuki riders off for most of the race.
Some of the best racing was in the heat races. Honda 450R mounted John Natalie and Suzuki LT-R450 equipped Chad Wienen were inseparable in their heat races. In the main, Weinen was able to reel Natalie in and pass for the win, but not the championship.
Wienen then charged ahead of Wimmer and reeled in Natalie. This continued for a couple of laps, until the hard charging Wienen finally edged Natalie out in a tight turn on the white flag lap. At the checkers, it was Wienen, Natalie and then Wimmer across the finish line. By taking second in the main, Natalie was able to clinch the overall Championship ahead of Wimmer by 11 points. For Natalie, it was a banner moment as he had faced down the factory effort from Team Suzuki and snatched the WPSA Pro Motocross title away from the threeman Suzuki squad. Natalie, with his Houtzdale, Pennsylvania hometown crowd cheering him from the sidelines, finished second to net his first WPSA Riders’ Championship. Natalie overcame serious back injuries sustained in a crash during practice earlier in the season to earn the title. He won four races this season, and put up an impressive seven podium finishes.
Suzuki’s Dustin Wimmer had a shot at capturing the Pro title for Team Suzuki but fell short by 11 points (377 to Natalie’s 388). It was a heartbreak for Wimmer but we can expect to see him return even more determined for the ’08 season.
“This goes back to the old philosophy of never giving up,“ said the likeable and strong-willed Natalie. “We never gave up this season. We worked hard as a team. We kept plugging away at it, took the points lead a couple races ago and never looked back. I’m really excited and I think our team did a great job,“ said the Pennsylvania native. “We’re already looking forward to next year,“ added Natalie. “We’re ready to do this again at the end of the 2008 season.” When asked what brand machine he would ride in 2008, John quietly smiled and said he couldn’t say just yet, but that it would not be red. Speculation is that John will make the switch to a fully sponsored ride with Can-Am aboard their all new DS450 for a repeat assault on the WPSA Pro Motocross finals in 2008.
TEAM SUZUKI FESSES UP “It was tough to catch Natalie when he had such a strong start,“ said Wienen after the race. “I never give up, though, and was able to finally pass him on the last lap for the win. I wanted to end the series with the most wins (five) and I finally did it.“ Even Suzuki’s Rod Lopusnak was happy with the day’s win and with the coveted Manufacturer’s Cup. “This is the second year in a row that the most races won were on a Suzuki, and we’re really proud of that. This demonstrates how good the quad is and the kind of commitment that Suzuki has made to the sport of ATV racing. We still have to give John (Natalie) credit for a fine ride and his championship as well,“ added Lopusnak.
QUAD TERRAIN CHALLENGE Cross Country racer and Can Am sponsored Chris Bithell took the lead early in the QuadTerrain Pro Stock final in Pennsylvania. The XC racer led all ten laps for the final 4x4 victory, his first this season. Arctic Cat sponsored Daryl Rath (defending Quad Terrain Champ) was a strong second, with another Cross Country racer, top contender Chris Borich, rounding out the podium in third place. “I’m about ready to pass out,“ said Bithell, who also competed in a cross country race at Unadilla MX in New York, a day earlier. Chris put in a hard ride and then made the 400-mile trip to the WPSA event for Can-Am. “I raced all day yesterday, and then had to go home. I was running on almost no sleep, so it feels really good to win here,“ said the Can-Am factory rider.
Quad Terrain Challenge pros Daryl Rath (#67) and Scott Kilby (#207) had a pitched battle on the rocks in Pennsylvania.
Vying for the overall championship, Arctic Cat-mounted Jesse West fought his own private battle with adversity and injuries. Jesse put in a “working man’s“ performance and won one race, and made the podium five times. “This season has been unbelievable,“ said West. “I have never worked so hard for something in my life and it feels great. We had a bit of bad luck earlier in the year, but luckily, so did some of my fellow competitors,“ added West. “It really came down to the wire. We had to have a good finish here, and we did the trick.“ West recovered from a last-place finish in Round 5 to earn his first title. Earning his “Working Man“ moniker, he never gave up. “We set out to win this thing,“ said West. “My results in Kentucky really got me thinking. I had to finish here to get the title and that’s what I did,“ added the Minnesota native. Can-Am was happy, as its factory onslaught of riders helped to earn it a second straight Manufacturers’ Championship on the merit of eight wins in ten races. “It’s been an outstanding season,“ said Jeff Gruhlke, Can-Am’s Race Director. “Warnert Racing, the riders, everyone out there contributed. We’re proud to come to the WPSA and showcase the power, handling and innovation of our Can-Am four wheelers.“
To say that John Natalie was pumped to win the WPSA championship would be an understatement. John’s win was earned with a heart-pounding series final in Pennsylvania.
Proving that dedication and stick-to-it-ness really does count, Jesse West took the Overall Quad Terrain Championship aboard his Arctic Cat 650 H1 4x4. Can-Am’s Chris Bithell (left) and Arctic Cat’s Daryl Rath finished the season final in second and third places, respectively.
QTC FINAL THOUGHTS “I worked really hard to win this QTC championship,“ said Jesse West after the final. “I am terribly proud of this accomplishment. I couldn’t have won it without the help of my family and friends, as well as the support from Arctic Cat. Our 650H1s are tough. I hope this second championship showcases the punishment an Arctic Cat can withstand. I also want to thank the fans who support us and come out to the races. I’ll do everything I can to put on a good show for you!“ Josh West, brother of Jesse, took the WPSA’s Pro Rookie of the Year honors after finishing sixth overall for the season. The championships and awards didn’t end for Arctic Cat in the ATV division. In the SuperSport UTV class, SPI Racing’s Kyle Fiebelkorn wrapped up the top season points aboard his Arctic Cat Prowler XT. “I couldn’t be much happier with how our season went,“ said Arctic Cat Race Manager Ted Bettin. “The collective effort put forth by the Arctic Cat Factory, as well as our racers and teams, makes this season a success. We’re going to come back tougher than ever next season. We vowed that last year and brought home another championship this year. Arctic Cat learns from racing, and that transfers to the consumer, so you can count on our machines being stronger and faster for next year,“
WPSA QUAD TERRAIN PRO STOCK 4x4 RESULTS IN PENNSYLVANIA
1. Chris Bithell: Can-Am 2. Daryl Rath: Arctic Cat 3. Chris Borich: Can-Am 4. Scott Kilby: Can-Am 5. Jesse West: Arctic Cat
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear. Copyright 2008 Hi-Torque Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Console Login