WORCS round 8

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September 13-15, 2013

Honey Lake, CA

Photos: Harlen Foley

The previous two rounds of WORCS haven’t turned out exactly as I’d hoped, mostly due to crashes and less than stellar starts, so I was quite motivated to change that pattern and ride to my potential. I’ve traditionally shown good speed at the Honey Lake facility, and I very much enjoy the technical and challenging terrain, so it seemed the perfect platform to get back to winning ways. I made a deal with myself to ride patiently, let the race come to me, and to cut out the mistakes that have plagued my recent races. I was also conscious of the fact that I could clinch the WORCS championship on the weekend, but my main focus as I headed to the start line was on my performance; if my performance was good, the championship would come.

We would use the motocross start gate, which suited me just fine. The thirty-second board turned on its side and the engine rpms began to rise. As the gate fell, I got off to a decent jump, but quickly found myself behind Star Savage, Justin Jones and Gary Sutherlin heading into the first corner. I quickly looked for a way around Savage, but in the process of taking a different line, Bobby Garrison made quick work to cut across the front of me and take fourth place away. We both were able to overtake Star in the following couple of corners as everyone frantically pushed to claim track position. The course turned down a technical creek section and I looked to re-pass Bobby for third place. In a split-line section I pushed myself just fast enough to edge him out as the lines reconnected and now turned my sights on Justin Jones in second.

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It took me a the rest of that lap to catch up to Jones’ rear tire, as some of the sections had become a little dusty, and I started to line up areas where I could make a move. We came into a rhythm section just in front of pit row and I tried an alternate rhythm, which turned out to be faster as I almost ran right into the back of him. I took note of that area, though I wanted to pass him earlier than that as Gary was beginning to pull a lead out front. I was right behind Justin heading into a silty right-left section of course and when he opened up the throttle and accelerated, a resulting cloud of dust wreaked havoc on my view of the corner. My front end missed the rut and I lost my balance, falling quickly to the ground. I got back up in a hurry, keeping the motor running and took off again, having lost just a few seconds in the incident, though it meant I’d have to play catch-up again, allowing Gary yet more of an advantage out front.

By the end of the lap I had reeled Justin back in and we made our way towards the rhythm section across from the pits once more. This time I moved out from behind Jones as I jumped into the section and I was able to push past him and claim second place. It was a bit of a squirrelly move as I wasn’t in total control when I made my way by, but now I had clear track and almost twenty seconds to make up on Sutherlin out front; it was time to push.

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I found a good pace; I was reeling Gary in around five seconds over each of the next few laps and it wasn’t long before I could see him just up the trail, but passing on such a tight track was going to be difficult. Just when I was thinking of where I could make a move, my pit crew made a great call: they had planned to pit me on the current lap, but once they saw Gary dive in to the pit, they waved me through for another one. Now I had clean air in the lead and it was up to me to pull enough time so that when I came in to pit on the next lap, I’d be able to make it out maintaining the lead. I definitely pushed hard, and as I made my stop the next lap, I could see it was going to be close. My crew dumped the gas as fast as physically possible and I accelerated out of the pit with just a couple seconds to spare; I had maintained the lead and the race was now mine to control.

Gary and I were both pushing hard as I looked to extend the lead and he looked to diminish it, and toward the end of the following lap, in what has become an unfortunate feature of my recent races, I made a costly mistake. I was cutting across the main line around a right-hand bend as I looked for a little smoother terrain, but my front end caught the edge of the main rut and in an instant my front tire tucked and sent me to the ground. I jumped back up and ran to my bike as Gary made his way back by, and I tried feverishly to kick-start my bike and get going. It took almost half a minute to finally get my bike going, and in that time I realized that I had twisted my thumb around pretty good in the crash as it began throbbing. After getting going, I tried to push the pace again, but the pounding of the bars against my thumb from all of the rocks and chop on the course was really painful, and I was forced to back it down and alter my grip in search of some relief.

As disappointed as I was that I threw away the lead, I’d actually like to be able to say that I just cruised it in to the finish without incident, but with around two laps to go I felt a wicked pinching sensation on the back of my neck and I knew instantly that I’d been stung by something. Normally this wouldn’t bother me much, but anyone who follows my blogs knows I had a pretty bad reaction to a bee sting in Baja this June, so I had some cause for concern. Thankfully I didn’t react too badly to the sting, just a little mental clouding and some wooziness, and I was able to cross the finish line and get some Benadryl down to help with the effects.

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In all of the drama, it hadn’t really sunk in that second place was enough to clinch the WORCS championship, and even now I don’t think it’s really hit me. I’ve been chasing the WORCS series since 2006 and it’s always been my ultimate goal to win a WORCS race and the championship, and to get both of those accomplished in the same year feels pretty great. I want to thank everyone who has helped me achieve my goals this year; my team: Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarms Racing; all of my personal sponsors: Fox Racing, PODmx knee braces, USWE hydration systems, THR Motorsports, ATP Mechanix supplements, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs and all of the fantastic team sponsors; my mechanic Phil; my family; my wife, Katie, and her family; and all of my friends, fans and supporters.

Moving forward, I have a couple goals left to achieve. One: I want to win the final round of WORCS; it’s been three rounds in a row now that I have shown the speed to win, but mistakes have kept me from it and I need to turn that around. Two: my team and I have to win the Baja 1000 this year; that’s pretty much the culmination. I know my team has the speed, the experience and the crew to get it done and I know how much it would mean to everyone involved. As great as winning the WORCS championship feels, winning the Baja 1000, over three extremely talented teams, would bring the curtain down on probably the best year of my career and I’m going to do everything I can to help my team attain that goal.

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Robby Bell

www.robbybellracing.com

Thank you to all the Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarm Racing 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.