WORCS round 9

Stateline, NV

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Oct. 11-13, 2013

As I made my way to the final round of the 2013 WORCS series, the title had already been decided and I had one final goal in mind: to go out on top and close the season with a victory. With the final round being a sand race, I had a suspicion that Bobby Garrison was going to be tough to beat. It was a suspicion that turned out to be quite accurate.

The WORCS crew did a fantastic job mixing up an otherwise flat piece of desert as they brought in a few old cars that the racers would have to traverse each lap; they also proved an exciting obstacle for the spectators. The race course was fast and incredibly rough by the time Sunday’s pro race came around and in a fitting culmination to the year, every pro would be on the course at the same time: all the bikes and quads would race together.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with dead engine starts all year long as about half the time my starts have been above average while the other half have seen me left seemingly alone on the start line, well after the green flag drop, kicking into the mid-teens. As I practiced starts on the line before hand, I was unhappy to have the same 50/50 return on single and multi-kick starts. I remember thinking: Oh well, when the flag drops, kick the stuffing out of it and hope for the best.

Timmy Shelman of the WORCS staff wove the green starting flag and as I kicked my heart out, my motor was left silent, shoot. It took a further three kicks to finally bring my bike to life and I accelerated my way up the first straight. Luckily this time I wasn’t the only rider to struggle with firing my bike up and was actually right around the edge of the top five really quickly. I mad short work of pushing into fourth spot and as the first lap wound down, the three riders ahead of me were Justin Jones and Justin Seeds (who had a flyer of a first lap), with Bobby Garrison just behind them in third.

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Bobby found his way by Seeds and as we came into the pits, where an old Cadillac was patiently waiting for us to climb across it. There was an alternate line consisting of two logs and with a slew of quad and bike tires in between; in an effort not to follow I chose the alternate and was surprised to find that it was good for a pass as I came out the other end in front of Justin Seeds.

Heading out onto the second lap Bobby was able to make a quick pass on Justin Jones and I felt a slight rush of anxiousness to follow suit and keep Bobby from getting any kind of lead. Around half a lap later the course turned onto a fifth gear straightaway that was covered in a mine field of square-edges and deep whoops and I hugged the far left side as Jones chose to favor the right. I was able to carry just enough more speed that Justin to edge by him and I was able to out-brake him into the following corner to claim second spot and turn my attentions toward Bobby out front.

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With such a fast track, I actually found it easier to follow Bobby and key off of his braking points and once I saw I had his pace, I was happy to settle in behind him for the next few laps. Around the fifth lap I got the feeling I could make the pass and as we hit a high-speed bend, I found the courage to sweep the outside around Bobby and broke later into the next left-handed corner, taking the lead for my own. I thought I may be able to pull away, but Bobby was able to hang right onto the back of me and on the following lap he made a pass that is still baffling me slightly: I felt I had a right-handed corner all to myself and all of the sudden Bobby is on the top edge of the berm to my outside, passing me in the process and denting my perception of how fast I thought I was going through the turn.

I settled back in behind him as we started to lap some of the pro-am quad racers. One of the quads we were attempting to pass took Bobby incredibly wide, forcing him to blow the corner and I made my way easily by, but this didn’t sit well and down the next straightaway I sat up and looked back to allow Bobby back by; I didn’t want to make the pass in that fashion.

Later that lap I felt another surge of opportunity and made an almost identical pass to the first pass I made on Bobby as I committed a little more down a nasty, fast straight and pushed into the lead. This time I was able to push out a bit of a lead and once Bobby lost physical contact it seemed to deflate him slightly. At this point, as I came in for my pit stop, I had control of the race with over twenty seconds worth of a lead; it was time to do my best to throw it away.

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The calamities started as I was exiting my pit. I took off too quickly, not allowing my crew to get the dry-brake receiver cover on correctly and leaving it bouncing in my lap. There was no downside to leaving it off, but I found it annoying and tried to put the cap back on myself. Unfortunately I chose to attempts this right before the scoring shoot and not only did I fail to get the cap on, I missed my attempt to grab the clutch and I blew right past the shoot. In my attempt to turn around, I lost the front wheel and fell to the ground. I can only imagine how silly this must have looked to anyone watching me at that moment.

Well I was able to remount pretty quickly, but it allowed Bobby to get a little closer again; it didn’t really help my pride out any either.

Later that lap I came into the “pro section” which was basically a pile of asphalt chunks we had to ride over. It wasn’t anything too challenging, but in my effort to throw away my lead I managed to find a way to lose traction and fall over and as I picked my bike back up Bobby made his way by. I had succeeded in making an already challenging race even more difficult on myself.

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Luckily Bobby had to pit that lap and I made my way back by, but he got out of the pit right behind me and his internal fire to battle me for the lead was reignited. We made our way towards the pro section and in a maneuver that kept in fitting with my previous lap, I clipped a chunk of asphalt awkwardly and fell over. Just as I was kicking myself for throwing away the lead yet again, I see Bobby, unable to react quickly enough, clip my bike and crash in the other direction. What a sight: the only two people to crash in this section the entire race and it’s the two race leaders.

In the rush to remount, I was able to keep my bike running and actually pulled away from Bobby as it took him longer to get going (exactly as I had planned) and a couple laps later I had pulled out to around thirty seconds worth of lead. As the checkered flag flew I felt as relieved that I was able to recover from my mistakes, as I was happy to finish the year with a win. I definitely felt like I had earned that one.

It definitely felt great to close out the year with a win and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my team: Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarms Racing, who worked hard all year long to give me the best equipment. My personal sponsors have also given my so much support continuously and I’m very grateful to be associated with them: Fox Racing, THR Motorsports, USWE hydration systems, PODmx knee braces, ATP Mechanix supplements, Northland Motorsports, and Ryan Abbatoye Designs. Thanks to my mechanic “Factory” Phil Valdez for all of the hard work he does on a daily basis, he does so much for the team and for me.

Well, it’s pretty much down to Baja now. There are some new rules for this year’s B1K, some fairly new terrain as well, but the goal remains the same: everyone on the team wants to repay our sponsors and supporters with a win. It’s going to be one heck of a race as the other teams are tough to beat, but we just want to ride to our absolute best, keep the bike perfect throughout the race and let the rest sort itself out. In the end I hope everyone stays safe, we put on a good show and we al have a good time in the process. Viva Baja!

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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.