FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Dante Oliveira edged out teammate Taylor Robert in a dramatic winner-take-all season finale to secure his first-career World Off-Road Championship (WORCS) title on Sunday aboard the KTM 450 XC-F. Additionally, KTM Supported rider Brandy Richards capped off a stellar season with a pair of impressive victories, claiming two championship titles in the Women’s Pro and Pro Am classes.
In the Pro 450 class, Oliveira and Robert came into the weekend tied for first in the championship standings and the teammates didn’t disappoint as they delivered an exciting battle down to the wire. Both riders had a mishap off the start and finding themselves buried in the pack, they put their heads down and charged into podium contention early on. By lap two, Oliveira had made his way into second, with Robert close in tow, but he went down on the K Rail section, which allowed Robert to get by on lap three. They continued to swap back and forth as they moved into the lead and that’s when Oliveira made his way back out front. He opened up a small gap and continued to extend his lead going into the final stretch but a hard-charging Cole Martinez whizzed by with two laps to go and Oliveira brought it home safely for second overall, which was enough to clinch the title over the third-place finisher of Robert.
Dante Oliveira: “I am so stoked to win my first WORCS Championship! The race was awesome. I got a bad start and I just put my head down and stayed clam. There was a pileup on the K Rails off the start, so I made a couple moves there to get to fourth and Taylor and I immediately started battling. We went at it for the first hour and half, it was sick! I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me get here!”
Antti Kallonen, FMF KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “First of all, I want to congratulate and acknowledge the great work of the entire FMF KTM Factory Racing team to be in the position with the crew and the riders to go for the championship at the last round. Coming in, the championship was already secured for the team and KTM but it was between the two team riders and it was a great race between the rookie and our multi-time champ, they raced well and respectfully. I want to congratulate Dante for his first WORCS title and also to Taylor for finishing strong, these two riders battled all season long and I want to give a hats off to both riders and the entire team.”
Robert, a three-time WORCS Champion, delivered a hard-fought battle in his 2020 title defense but it wasn’t enough to seal the deal in the final round of racing. Fresh off his fourth win of the season, Robert came into the finale with big confidence but things got off to a slow start as he found himself at the back of the pack alongside his teammate Oliveira at the start of the race. The duo climbed their way into podium contention and diced back and forth early on, eventually making their way into the lead battle around lap four. With a close battle for most of the race, Robert capitalized to get out front a few times early on but Oliveira ultimately out-paced him in the final stretch, ultimately finishing third on the day. With five podiums and four race-wins, Robert finished out the season with a respectable second overall in the championship.
Taylor Robert: “Today was not an ideal day for me but I left it all out there on the track. I didn’t feel like I rode badly and I didn’t feel like I could have done anything differently, so I guess I just have to live with the fact that Dante was just riding a little bit better today. I was staying close to him and then he just started pinning it late in the race and I didn’t have it to hang with him. All-in-all, it was a good season with great battles and I have to give it up to Dante, he was riding really well all year long. He didn’t make any major mistakes and that’s what it takes to get the job done.”
Richards was impressive all season long, not only sweeping the Women’s Pro class with an undefeated season but also making her presence known as the top A rider in the series with the Pro Am Championship title.
Kallonen added, “I also want to congratulate Brandy on securing both the Women’s Pro Championship and the Pro Am Championship. She came into the final round in a distant second and she had to win the race in order to get the championship and she delivered the win. Beating all the guys and winning the Pro Am class, that is a big achievement to add onto her long list of accomplishments. Well-done, Brandy.”