Mammoth Motocross Qualifier

Pala, CA
April 29
th, 2012

100_2069

Participating in the Mammoth MX amateur national is a must every year and this is the second year riders have had to qualify for the event and guarantee entry. The last chance qualifier was again held at the Pala motocross facility so it was a natural choice for me to put on my big boy pants and head out to Pala to race some motocross.
I hadn’t raced an actual motocross race since the Washougal national last year, but when the gate dropped I remembered really quickly how fast the five-lap motos end. My first race was moto one of the 450 Pro class and I gated around fifth, quickly making my way into third and pressing the leaders Travis Freistat and Mike Sleeter. I closed up to the back of Sleeter and just as I was beginning to size him up he lost his front end in a corner and fell. Travis was riding fast out front but it seemed as though his early pace had gotten to him and he was beginning to slow slightly. He switched up his line after the finish line straight, taking the outside, and I saw my opportunity to run it up the inside and I took the lead from him. From there I rode a solid last lap and a half and stretched out my lead to over seven seconds at the finish.
The gate dropped for my first Open Pro moto and I was again around fifth, but made my way into second quite quickly and started to close on Sleeter. He was riding well and, with the track being fairly one-lined, I just wasn’t willing to make an aggressive pass for the lead. I tried different lines only to lose time and frustrate myself in the process; I followed him across the finish line a close second.
For the second moto of the 450 Pro race I still hadn’t really figured out the start and again was just at the edge of the top five. Like the previous 450 moto, I was able to make my way into third relatively quickly and started to close on Travis and Mike out front. This race went much like the Open moto: I had more speed, but just wasn’t aggressive enough to run it in there and get by. I had a couple openings, but wasn’t fully committed and they would close rapidly. The last lap came and I was feeling increasingly frustrated that I had fallen into their pace and I just wasn’t able to flip the switch and get by. Sleeter, on the other hand, was very willing to get aggressive and in the very last corner ran up the inside of Travis and hit him hard, taking the moto and overall win; I had to settle for third.
For the final moto of the day I was pretty mad at myself for not riding with the intensity I needed and all I wanted was a hole shot and the chance to flex my legs and run out front. I came close, but again Sleeter got the start and I quickly started running up the back of him to get by. A couple laps in and I had a good run on him and swept the outside, making a clean pass, but as we came into the next corner he went out of his way to cut across me and hit me hard, knocking me completely off the track. I didn’t care and just pinned it around the outside of the following tabletop, maintaining the lead and knew once I got a gap I’d be able to pull away from him. Into the next right-handed corner I ran a little high and had to lift for a split second and Mike had already made up his mind he was going to cut across and hit me again. Had I not bobbled I would have made it through, but instead he was able to come into me and, again, hit me really hard, almost sending me off the track a second time, and taking the lead back in the process. I was pissed and pushed hard to get after him, but he had succeeded in sending me out of my rhythm slightly and every time I’d get close, I’d over-do it, make a mistake and lose time. I had to settle for a very frustrating second.
In the end I suppose I felt like Jake Weimer did in the early part of the Supercross season: I was just way too nice. I was the fastest guy at the track, but I walked away with a third in the 450 and second in the Open class because I wasn’t willing to get aggressive and force my way by those guys. Even though it was just a qualifier and I did what I set out to do in making it into Mammoth, it hurts to get beat when I know I’m better than that. All in all I think it was a good thing though; it woke me up to the kind of intensity I need to bring to every race weekend, whether it’s a motocross, grand prix or even Baja, I need to lift that intensity to achieve the results I’m craving. From here I’m off to Primm, NV for the fourth round of the BIG SIX grand prix series and I’m looking to get back to winning ways. I’d like to thank my team: THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki and my personal sponsors: Fox Racing, Asterisk and HookIt.com. See everyone next week!

100_2054edit

RB32

www.robbybellracing.com

Thank you to all the team sponsors: THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki, FMF Racing, Hoosier Precision Machining, BRP, Renthal, Dunlop, VP Racing Fuels, IMS Products, Kalgard, DT1 Filters, Hinson, Matrix Concepts, ZLT, QTM, RK/Excel, Acerbis, Works Connection, Zip-Ty Racing.