Las Vegas, Nev. - GPS Offroad/JRi Shocks/Can-Am factory racer Dillon Zimmerman has had a roller coaster of a year. Fielding his own effort in 2013, Zimmerman battled mechanical issues, equipment failure and more than a little bad luck. Early on, it seemed small malfunctions that have never been a problem in the past began to plague the JRi Shocks-backed factory Can-Am racer.
Finally, round four in St. George, UT, provided a ray of sunlight as Zimmerman managed a podium finish on the brutal and extremely whooped out course. The team hoped their bad luck was behind them and it looked as though Zimmerman would score another podium finish at round five in Taft, CA, but a torn heel-guard net nearly caused a crash and Zimmerman would have to limp to a sixth place finish.
That seemed to be the tone for much of Zimmerman's season. Small mechanical failures that have never been an issue in the previous five years of racing suddenly started to surface.
"It's understandable to have some issues with a new program but the majority of our problems have been completely out of left field," Ty Zimmerman, president of GPS Offroad Products, said. "It just seemed like we'd be fine through practice, then on race day something small happens that ruins our day."
Zimmerman saw steady improvement in the final rounds of the season, with his best finish coming at the season finale in Primm, NV. After practice on Friday, Zimmerman made a few adjustments to his suspension and actually practiced offsite on Saturday to ensure his JRi Shocks were dialed in for the extremely rough course.
WORCS officials ran both the Pro Bikes and Pro ATVs on Sunday morning and parts of the courses overlapped, creating deep sandy whoops that played in Zimmerman's favor. "I think rough tracks are an advantage for me because my JRi Shocks were working really good," he said. "It just seems like the rougher the track the better I do."
Zimmerman had his work cut out for him, starting from the back of the pack after the dead engine start. At the end of lap one, he managed to pass up to fifth and continued working his way toward the front. By the fourth lap he had managed to make his way up to third place. However, a brush with a lapper spun him completely around and he nearly lost a position to Dustin Nelson.
After getting going again, Zimmerman passed Yamaha's Josh Row and put his head down to charge the final three laps and earn his best finish of the year, a well deserved second.
Despite the struggle early on in the season, Zimmerman was pleased to finish out the year strong and enjoys the freedom that comes with running his own program. "There was a lot less pressure and I think that's when I ride better," he said. "We're there to have a good time and represent all of the sponsors. There's no one looking over me telling me what I have to do or putting pressure on me."
Zimmerman is looking forward to what next year will bring as he enters his sophomore year with his current program. "I think we've shown that our current program with Can-Am, GPS Offroad Products, JRi Shocks, RP Advanced and Goldspeed is a good combination and capable of competing for championships," he said.
In the Pro-Am class, GPS Offroad's Mike Sloan finally made his way back to the box after struggling with mechanical issues for much of the season. Sloan dominated the field at Round 2, also held at Primm, however, he failed to make it to the podium again until the final round.
Forced to battle his way from the back of the pack, Sloan eventually took over the lead but lost a couple of positions when his motor stalled. He was able to regain to second place before the checkered flag flew, giving him an exclamation point on what has been a long and challenging season.
GPS Offroad's David Flores, who wrapped up the Production A championship on Saturday ran a solid race and took the final podium spot for the Pro-Am class on Sunday with a third. Flores was the most consistent Pro-Am all season, earning six podium finishes, good enough for third place overall.