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Yamaha ITP QuadCross Championship Series

Yamaha/ITP QuadCross Round 1--2009

This is the opening round, folks, a new season with new machines and an all new line up of racers. The growing popularity of the Quadcross is showing with a few national riders coming way out west to test their skills. Some riders came from overseas to compete in this opening round. There was definitely a great turn out for this round, since they combined the opening round of the ATVA Pro Nationals on the same weekend. So, some of the amateur racers threw their hat in the ring to race the Yamaha/ITP Quadcross--racers like Joel Hetrick who had a nasty spill in one of his motos and took out a photographer. Also, there was Michelle Natalie and Adrienne Cooper who took on the boys in the 450 Production Intermediate Class. These ladies were also featured in a local news story about women racing ATVs with the guys.

The much anticipated arrival of Jason Dunkleberger to the Golden West/Yamaha Team, and his bid for the 2009 Quadcross Championship was here. Dunkleberger was looking good in practice on Saturday and was attacking the uphill whoop section. He got sideways in one run though there and just about took me out. Jeremie Warina had already made a few appearances last year at the Quadcross and also showed them he has what it takes to race a WORCS race this year. Now it looks like the Frenchman will be also tackling the whole ITP Quadcross season for ’09. Another notable Frenchman on hand to throw down in the opening round was Yamaha/CT Racing’s Romain Couprie. Couprie was here last year for the opening round of the ATVA National. This year he was going to try his hand at the Quadcross.

Pro Class Moto 1

Racers lined up for what would actually be a qualifier, not a combined score of 2 motos, just the best of finisher in the main. Since there were over 20 entries, they ran two full gates of pros. The first gate flew off the line and out of Talladega, Dustin Nelson was off to the early lead with Joel Hetrick and Jeremie Warina not too far behind. The next wave launched from the line with Evan Spooner from AZ. Spooner took off with the early lead with Mike Machado not too far behind him. Romain Couprie was in the second wave of riders. With about a mid-pack start, Couprie had some work to do.

Coming around for the second lap Nelson had already started to pull away from the pack. Sage Baker had already made a pass on a few riders and bumped up to second. Warina was now back to third and Hetrick now in fourth. For the second wave of pro racers, Mike Machado had already made his move and passed Spooner. Now Dustin Terry was on Spooner’s tail and looking for him to bobble so he could get around him for second. French Racer Romain Couprie had now moved up to fourth and was looking for his opportunity to pass as well. Couprie finds his chance to get around the other riders and move up to second by the start of the third lap. Things were about the same for the third wave. The fourth lap around Warina was putting the pressure on Baker looking to go after Nelson. As for Hetrick he would lose a place to Landon Hurst aboard the Polaris MX450.

Almost to the half way point Warina would finally make his pass on Sage Baker stick. Now is there enough time to catch Nelson? As for the second wave, Frenchman Couprie was now was looking to better his position and take home a top qualifying spot. Also, a few other Yamaha riders now moving up in the pack were Justin Noss and Jason Dunkleberger aboard their new YFZ450Rs, running third and fourth. At the finish Dustin Nelson would take home the top spot with Jeremie Warina in second, Sage Baker was in third. As for the second wave of racers, Romain Couprie took top qualifier in wave two, followed by Justin Noss and Jason Dunkleberger.

Pro Main

Lined up for the big main event of the day, engines revving, wrenches clearing the gate, and the intense stare down to the first turn, these boys are ready for battle. The engines picked up R’s and then we heard the clunk of the gate dropping. The racers shot off the start pads and down the straight away with Polaris’s Landon Hurst taking the holeshot. Motoworks/Can-Am’s Jeremie Warina was in tow, followed by Factory Yamaha’s Dustin Nelson. Before they could even get half way around the course,Warina would make his way around Hurst. Nelson would get held up by Hurst and get around Landon on the second lap. Nelson then set his sights on Warina who had already started to pull away. Hurst would begin to fade. As for Sage Baker another Can-Am rider would move up a few spots and work his way up to third.  As for Romain Couprie, one of the top qualifiers, he had been working his way though the pack and moved up to fourth. The highly-anticipated debut of Jason Dunkleberger, Justin Noss and Dunk was a battle back mid pack. They had worked their way up for Dunk to finish fifth and Noss finishing seventh. As for the front runners, Nelson would just run out of time to catch the Frenchman Warina. Dustin Nelson would finish second followed by the other Frenchman Romain Couprie who finished third. Both French racers ran the Pro Production and Open Pro finishing first and third in both classes with Warina taking home two wins.

What a great kick off to the Quadcross season and I’m looking forward to covering the upcoming rounds! If they are as action-packed as this weekend, then it’s going to be a season full of great racing.

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