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Robby Bell/Precision Concepts WORCS Report
Team Precision Concepts WORCS Round 1, Taft, CA
January 29/30, 2011
This year the season opener was at the rolling hills of Honolulu Hills raceway in Taft, CA. The race course was a great mix of the motocross track, the fast access roads surrounding the facility as well as some tight canyon sections to break up the speed. Unfortunately the weekend started out on the worst possible note as the WORCS series lost one of its greatest champions. During Friday MX practice Nathan Woods had a really bad crash, suffering serious internal injuries, and he wasn’t able to recover. Everyone was in utter shock, but with heavy hearts, the race weekend continued and everyone felt Nathan would have wanted it that way.
I felt the race promoter, Sean Reddish, did a fantastic job handling such a horrible and unprecedented situation. He decided to call off the first pro moto on Saturday to have a parade lap, led by Nathan’s wife and son, in his memory and then an open pro practice to just have some fun and remember why we love this sport so much. It was hard to hold back the tears on the parade lap, Nathan was such a great guy, he has touched so many lives, and everyone was feeling the pain. He will be dearly missed.
Inevitably, Sunday rolled around and it was time to go racing. This was the first time we were going to experience the new WORCS format of an hour plus one lap and I was excited to get it under way. In a fitting turn of fate the sky opened up and started raining just two minutes before the gate was to drop; I heard a lot of people say that was Nathan throwing us a bit of a curve ball, as he was always a great mud rider, and I bet he was looking down and smiling. It was a concrete start gate so getting off with the rain falling was going to be tricky. The thirty second board went sideways and I kept telling myself, “nice and easy, nice and easy”, but they held the gate for quite a while and the longer it was held, the more my throttle hand started feeling the excitement. The gate finally dropped and I lit the back tire up, spinning side to side like first timer. I got pinched off right away and did my best to push up through the pack, settling into the mid teens. Because of the rain the course was a bit muddy and vision quickly became an issue, as I went through all fourteen of my tear offs on the first lap. I had worked up to the edge of the top ten, but I came in to get a fresh set of goggles and a few guys got back by me. Unfortunately I was a bit hasty in putting my new set of goggles on and I scooped a bunch of mud from my helmet inside them which had me dealing with floaters in my goggles for the next hour. It was another rookie mistake, and one that I’ve definitely learned from. I was able to push up to around ninth place with Destry Abbott just ahead of me and we had quite a battle over the next few corners. I got a run up the inside of him up a hill but he was able to pinch me off before the left hander. As we headed down the next tight canyon I hit the gas hard and got right up along side of him, it was an adrenaline spiking pass in the tight surroundings, and I was just about able to squeeze him off into the next corner. From there I put a little gap on him, but I was only able to match the lap times of the guys inside the top five, and I was just inching on sixth and seventh. With two laps to go the rain really started coming down and having stuck with tear offs instead of roll offs I was starting to struggle with my vision again. Everyone’s pace dropped those last two laps and it seemed to tighten things up a little bit as I had closed in on seventh and Destry had also closed the gap on me. I had to come into the pit for a quick splash of gas on the last lap, but fortunately Destry did too, and we just did a quick back and forth. Unfortunately Bobby Bonds in seventh didn’t have to stop so he pulled back out around twenty seconds ahead of me. With clear vision on the last lap I was able to stretch back away from ninth and I saw I was closing fast on seventh. I kept chipping away at Bobby, but just ran out of time and came up about five seconds short, finishing eighth.
Overall I was a bit disappointed in my race, especially with the start. Eighth place wasn’t what I wanted, and I wasn’t able to get as much speed as I wanted out of myself during the race either. I did learn a lot, both about my bike set up and about my training; it’s a lot more of a sprint now than I realized, but I’m confident with a good start I’ll be right up front where I want to be. Round two is in a month at the sand track that is Primm, NV and I can’t wait to get back to work and start prepping for it.