EVENT: WORCS ROUND 5; MESQUITE, NV

Baron and Leaverton win big By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Beau Baron and his Sparks Racing-motivated Honda TRX450R nailed the ATV Pro holeshot at Mesquite and never looked back. Mike Sloan and his Yamaha YFZ450R nailed second on the start.

Like all sporting events in the U.S., the popular WORCS races of GP-style off-road racing was completely derailed by COVID-19. We doubt that the promoters were grateful for a modest spectator turnout before, but the off-road-typical low density of spectators and the spread-out nature of the pit area allowed more than enough social distancing. Those factors allowed the competition to resume a little over two months after the virus-forced competition shut down. Everybody seemed happy to be back at it.

The Mesquite round is held at Mesquite MX, which is located between a large golf course and a shooting range. The track is located on the flood plain of the normally tame and modest Virgin River. WORCS uses almost all of the substantial motocross track area, including a large hill that is ascended and descended, and a lot of jumps for four-wheeled machinery. Joined to the mostly packed clay MX area was a long, rough, sandy off-road loop that crossed out into the sandy flood plain at times close to the river’s edge. By the final races of the weekend, the entire off-road loop consisted of gigantic whoops. The area was so rough that top runners Cody Miller and Beau Baron ripped suspension parts off their cars and did not finish even one lap of the premier Pro Production SxS class. With most of the faster classes turning laps just over seven minutes, it was great racing to watch.

David Haagsma pushed hard for the entire race, but Corbin Leaverton passed him on the first lap, and was able to maintain a lead.

FAST CLASS

With lots of jumps, tight turns and a relatively narrow track for UTVs, multi-time ATV pro champion Beau Baron topped the class and turned in the fastest lap of the weekend at 7:01.508. On fast, open tracks like Primm, Nevada, and Taft California, the UTV classes are significantly—as much as 30 seconds—faster. UTVs and quads are about even at a short, rough track like Havasu. Baron made sure his Honda TRX450R had the start, with his main competitor Mike Sloan in second place. Sloan has been strong and fast in 2020, but an unplugged wire halted his charge. Many riders faced some adversity, but Travis Damon (Hon) was able to pick up a secure second in the class with Ricardo Gonzalez (Yam) third.

Competition was tight on the first lap of the SxS Pro Production class, and especially here just a few turns into the race. David Haagsma grabbed the start over Corbin Leaverton and current champ Cody Miller and his Can-Am.

Baron and Sloan have each had a bad race this year, but have otherwise been consistent at the top with a pair of wins and a pair of second-place finishes each. Baron is back in the points lead with 83 points, and Sloan is tied with Evan Spooner for second at 72 points.

In the Pro-Am ATV class there was a Honda TRX450R sweep of the top-four places. Kenny Sanford, Cody Sanford and Erin Simmons were the guys at Mesquite. Kenny Sanford has a perfect season rolling at the moment with 100 points. Erin Simmons is next in the standings followed by Kenny Sanford’s brother Cody in third position.

OTHER SWEEPS

Andrew Simmons has a perfect win record for the series in the 30+ A class. WORCS veteran racer Donna Ellsworth is second in the standings despite machine trouble in Mesquite. She is second in the Women A class as well behind current champion Torey Matajcich. Matajcich also has a perfect win record in the Women A class. Matajcich also competes in the Pro-Am class with the men.

Cody Sanford nabbed the holeshot in the ATV Pro-Am class, but his brother Kenny has a perfect win record for the year, so Cody settled for second. Mesquite has a huge climb up to the WORCS gorilla and a drop down from that point.

THE FAST UTVs

In WORCS, the races run over two days, and the SxS Pro Stock class (for naturally aspirated machines) runs on Saturday. Beau Baron and his Polaris RS1 came out on top of the class with a fastest lap time of 7:22.398, roughly 9 seconds slower than the fastest of the Pro Production racers on Sunday. He was followed by Matthew Hancock (Pol) and Tyson Leaver (Pol). Chris Johnson is the current points leader, but competition in the class is tough. Johnson, Baron and Baron’s former teammate David Haagsma have all won the Pro Production class this year, and Haagsma has won twice. Baron is second in points, Matthew Hancock is third and Haagsma is fourth.

: Paxton Schendel (121, Pol) and Travis Sallee (71, Pol) had a major battle on the track, but Paxton had the additional issue of the hood flopping up in his face as well. That didn’t look like fun.
Donna Ellsworth (101) nailed the start in the 30+ A ATV class, but mechanical issues dropped her back. She is currently second in the Women Pro class and the 30+ A class.

The final race of the weekend is the Pro Production SxS class for the turbo machinery. Haagsma nailed the first-row start over first-year Pro Production competitor Corbin Leaverton to make it Polaris first and second, with current number-one Cody Miller and his Can-Am in third. Just over seven minutes later, Leaverton was in the lead and leaving Haagsma hanging tight. The starts are in waves, and the race is timed, so only the scoring folks really know who is where. Shawn Saxton started on one of the rows farther back, but he continued to push. Spectators could easily see that he was pushing hard. He clicked off the fastest lap of any SxS class on the last lap when the track was at its roughest. He grabbed third place a mere three seconds back from Haagsma. Matthew Hancock and Jeremiah Wagner completed the Polaris sweep of the top five.

Hunter Miller (2) and his champ brother Cody took the top-two spots in the class in 2020, but Mesquite was not kind to either of the brothers. Neither was able to finish the race.
Current SxS Pro Production champ Cody Miller is merely cleaning off his driving shoes here, but just a few minutes later his trip from Texas had ended with two wheels and part of the suspension missing from the passenger side.
WORCS keeps a designated pit area just outside of the second turn on the track. It is the only spot where teams could work on the cars or ATVs. Work outside the pit results in disqualification.

In the standings, Leaverton and Haagsma both have one bad race, but Leaverton has three wins and 83 points for the lead ,with Haagsma 10 points back and Can-Am pilot John Bonanno in third. Cody and Hunter Miller were first and second in the 2019 series for Can-Am, and Hunter has one win in 2020, but they have not put everything together for this year.

Beau Judge (Can) and Bradley Callahan (Pol) were battling closely in the early corners of the race. They hit this jump side by side, and Judge ended up launching off the side of this jump. It looked scary, but he continued racing.

RESULTS

ATV Pro

1. Beau Baron (Hon)

2. Travis Damon (Hon)

3. Ricardo Gonzalez (Yam)

4. Nick Nisbet (Hon)

5. Austen Turner (Yam)

ATV Pro-Am

1. Kenny Sanford (Hon)

2. Cody Sanford (Hon)

3. Erin Simmons (Hon)

4. Noah Harris (Hon)

5. Nick Helton (Yam)

ATV Women A

1. Torey Matajcich (Yam)

2. Donna Ellsworth (Hon)

3. Layne Fryar (Yam)

4. Lynn Prosser (Yam)

SxS Pro Stock

1. Beau Baron (Pol),

2. Matthew Hancock (Pol)

3. Tyson Leaver (Pol)

4. Kody Winiecki (Pol)

5. Koen Crawford (Yam)

SxS Pro Production

1. Corbin Leaverton (Pol)

2. David Haagsma (Pol)

3. Shawn Saxton (Pol)

4. Matthew Hancock (Pol)

5. Jeremiah Wagner (Pol)

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