First event of 2014 TORC championship in the books

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Writer’s Note: The following is a recap of this weekend’s season-opening event for TORC: The Off-Road Championship – the “Duel in the Desert” from Primm, Nevada. NBCSN will air the event on Friday, April 25 at 11 p.m. ET. If you don’t want to know who won until then, we suggest you find another post to read here on MotorSportsTalk…

While gamblers hoped for a jackpot at the nearby casinos, the drivers of TORC: The Off-Road Championship entered the weekend at Primm Valley Off-Road Raceway hoping for a strong start to their 2014 seasons.

The “Duel in the Desert” began with an action-packed Round 1 on Saturday that saw Adrian Cenni win the PRO 4 race with a last-lap pass on Johnny Greaves, who still claimed second despite rolling his truck early in the race.

But a momentary mistake on Greaves’ part – in which he got loose in a corner and hit a hay bale – allowed Cenni to reel him in. On the final circuit, the two went side-by-side before Cenni made the pass stick in Turn 3 and then went on to win.

Meanwhile, Chad Hord’s wire-to-wire triumph in PRO 2 was overshadowed by the stunning barrel roll that Arie Luyendyk Jr. took after mid-air contact with another competitor.

Luckily, Arie Jr. was alert upon his transfer to a local hospital and earlier today, he was spotted back at the track to not only watch but also join the NBCSN team in the booth:

The 24-truck PRO Light class started the day, and that race was won from the pole by C.J. Greaves.

Saturday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Adrian Cenni; 2. Johnny Greaves; 3. Mark Kvamme
  • PRO 2: 1. Chad Hord; 2. Marty Hart; 3. Mike Jenkins
  • PRO Light: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Doug Mittag; 3. Jerett Brooks

However, in today’s Round 2 of the Duel, Johnny Greaves avenged his near-miss yesterday by beating Cenni to the checkered flag in PRO 4.

Greaves took the lead shortly after the drop of the green flag and held it up to the competition caution. When the green came back out at Lap 10, Greaves was able to maintain the point while second-place Mark Jenkins went over the wall to trigger a full-course yellow.

The incident elevated Cenni to second place, but Greaves quickly pulled away when the race went green again.

In PRO 2, Hord rocketed from fourth to the lead on the opening lap but lost the point shortly after the competition yellow to C.J. Greaves. C.J. then hung on the rest of the way for the victory, a nice follow-up to his third-place finish in PRO Light behind winner Jerett Brooks and runner-up Kyle Hart.

Sunday’s Podium Finishers

  • PRO 4: 1. Johnny Greaves; 2. Adrian Cenni; 3. Scott Douglas
  • PRO 2: 1. C.J. Greaves; 2. Chad Hord; 3. Patrick Clark
  • PRO Light: 1. Jerett Brooks; 2. Kyle Hart; 3. C.J. Greaves

TORC: The Off-Road Championship will return to action for the Showdown in Charlotte on April 25 and 26 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”