WORCS round 7

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August 9-11, 2013

Glen Helen, CA

Photos by Harlen Foley

I’m sure holding a grand prix at Glen Helen in the dead heat of summer was met with some skepticism. Not only would the temperature be elevated, the prospect of dusty conditions and a well-used layout seemed inevitable. The WORCS crew took these reservations to heart in laying out the track and responded in adding a couple new sections and using some imagination to put together a flowing Glen Helen racecourse that gave a novel feel to familiar terrain. Coupled with an always crowd-pleasing water jump, the course gave racers and fans alike a great experience and everyone seemed full of praise.

For myself, Taylor Robert’s presence, Bobby Garrison’s resurgence, Gary Sutherlin coming back, and the fact that Justin Jones, Justin Seeds and Ty Renshaw have been showing their best form meant that the weekend had the makings for a hypercompetitive race and I was eager to meet challenge.

After the complete disaster that was my dead-engine start at the last round at Pala, I was quite pleased to hear that we were going to use the starting gate for this one as I’m not sure my ego could handle another twelve-kick start.

The thirty-second board went sideways and I took a couple saturating deep breaths, focusing on the gate, waiting for the slightest flicker of movement. The gate fell to the floor and as I accelerated over the concrete pad, I instantly felt that I had a good start; I really felt I had the holeshot. Unfortunately for me, Justin Jones is pretty talented at getting over the gate and he hooked up a little better as we sped toward the first corner. I had to concede the holeshot, but I planned on squaring up the slight right-hand bend and cutting underneath him as we thundered left around Talladega. The plan proved to be a bust as I lost traction, catching a slight edge with my rear tire around the right swapping sideways, scrubbing speed and allowing four or five riders by.

I was around sixth position as we flew toward the off road section. I could see that Taylor rapidly took over the lead and knew I needed to get going if I was to keep pace with him. I quickly made a pass on Ty Tremaine to take over fifth and as we all headed toward a long sand wash, with multiple lines, I was able to push my way past Ty Renshaw for fourth. As the wash split, the lead three riders (Taylor, Justin Jones and Gary Sutherlin) all took the smoother right line and I opened up the throttle as I opted for the whooped-out left line. I took a couple risks, but stayed committed and was able to pass both Justin and Gary by the time we hit the merge.

This is what I wanted: as shot for a one-on-one race with Taylor, a chance to test my limits and have a bit of fun racing the defending champion in the process.

I was able to hang right with Taylor for the next lap and a half and as we came to the sand wash for the third time, I wanted badly to make the pass and take the lead. I was anxious, perhaps a little too anxious for my own good and in my haste to try to make the pass, I was riding very close in Taylor’s dust. Right before the sand wash split I clipped a rock in the dust that I never saw and my bike instantly kicked sideways. There was no hope of saving it and I was flown to the ground in a hurry. Quick to get up, I hadn’t lost too much time and aside from my levers being rolled down, the bike felt pretty straight. I re-fired the engine and twisted the throttle but it just spun in circles. My heart instantly sank as I realized the throttle cable had been severed clean through from the impact with the earth.

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For a moment I thought that was it; three laps into the race, I was done. I was on the opposite side of the facility from the pits and, pushing through the deep sand, it would take me far too long to push it back. Then I had a wild thought to pull the cables themselves to see what would happen: success! I could pull it just enough to get some forward momentum and I carefully made it back to the pits. My race for the win may be over, but I still had a fire to push my limits and that was readily attainable.

After a fifteen-plus minute pit (there’s no quick way to change throttle cables, especially on the modern kawi) I was back out on course with a point to prove to myself: I wanted to show myself that I could not only have fast laps, but hold those laps all the way to the finish.

I pushed myself for the entirety of the race, taking what some might consider a few needless risks being two laps down (especially when I almost swapped off the bike in fourth gear, then after saving that, almost hit a fence; sketchy, but exhilarating at the same time), but I had a personal fire blazing inside and wouldn’t back it down. As the checkered flag flew, I accomplished my secondary goal of pushing all the way through. No denying I had a fifteen minute break during the early part of the race, but it still felt great that, other than a last lap pit adding to my time, my lap times never wavered more than a hand-full of seconds. I may have lost the chance for a race with Taylor, but it still felt pretty good to push my physical limits on the bike, and I still had a whole lot of fun.

In retrospect I feel my mistake was being too impatient in wanting to make a pass on Taylor. I feel I should have had a little more confidence in myself and taken my time to get by with a little more tact and a little less adrenaline. Of course the story would be different had I made the pass, but the root cause was the driving force behind my attempt being in angst rather than confidence. In the grander focus of the championship, fortunately this didn’t put too much of a dent in my points lead and I have a very realistic shot at wrapping up the title a round early at Honey Lake.

I’d like to thank my entire support system that continues to work tirelessly to give me a fantastic effort: Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarms, Fox Racing, USWE Hydration Systems, PODmx knee braces, THR Motorsports, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs and ATP Mechanix supplements. Upcoming for me is the BITD Vegas to Reno desert race and then the little matter of marrying the woman of my dreams!

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Robby Bell

www.robbybellracing.com

Thank you to all the Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarm Kawasaki team sponsors: FMF Exhaust, GPR Stabilizers, IMS Racing, BRP Triple Clamps, AME Grips, Kalgard Oils/Lubricants, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, AP Brakes, LAPC Pistons, Renthal Handlebars/Sprockets, Dunlop Tires, VP Racing Fuels, DT1 Air Filters, K&N Oil Filters, Hinson, Matrix Concepts, RK/Excel, Acerbis, Works Connection, Zip-Ty Racing, SealSavers, Baja Designs.