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Robby Bell Henderson BITD Report
Race Report from Best in the Desert’s Henderson 250
Mark Kariya captures Robby wide open at Henderson
Pure, unadulterated speed: if I had to sum up this race course in one phrase it would be that. My throttle was to the stop for at least eighty percent of the Henderson race track and about the only time I used second or third gear was for controlled speed sections. The course consisted of two main sand washes, connected by a handful of wide open power line roads; there were some minimally rocky roads and just before the finish lay two long straightaways of rolling car whoops. I hadn’t personally raced a Best in the Desert race in four years, but Shane had a chance to get the N1 plate so we decided to team up; he’d start and race the first of three 46 mile loops and then I’d get on and do the final two.
On race morning temperatures were frigid and a little bit of wind chill didn’t help matters so I was quick to throw on the thermals. Our main competition at this race was to be David Pearson who would ride the three loops solo on his Honda 450x; Shane was first off the line with David starting 30 seconds back. Best in the Desert races are very much a waiting game in the pits as we have an idea of how long the loops will take but no way of knowing for sure. I decided to get ready a bit early and it was a good decision as just as I finished putting my helmet on Shane popped over the hill and down pit row. He had a great first lap and came in around thirty seconds ahead of David. I mounted the bike and cruised out of the “controlled speed” pit area until we could resume race speed and I hit the gas hard.
The first bit of the course was a fast rocky two track and I felt good enough through that, the bike was handling well and my body felt good. This was a no pre run event so I didn’t know the course very well and when it turned onto a paved road I slowed down, second guessing if it was the race course. The nice thing about Best in the Desert is that it’s marked really well so I looked up the road a distance, saw a marker and pinned it. I was surprised by the speed of the course, but I was enjoying it and the sand washes were quite flowing and fun. Around mile thirty the course turns up a long, wide whoop section; it was a bit chewed up from the rain, but far left look like a bit better line so I headed over there. About half way through the whoops I saw a squared edge coming up, but I didn’t think much of it other than to wheelie over it; little did I know I was in for the close call of my life. As my rear tire hit the edge, it was worse then I thought and my back end kicked out sideways. As I came back to the earth my bike high sided back the other way so violently it blew my feet off; at this point I was just about perpendicular to the on coming whoops with my feet off at about sixty mph thinking there’s no way I’m going to save this. I kept the throttle pinned and super-manned my way across the course to the right side and had luckily scrubbed enough speed by that point to recompose my self, down shift a couple gears and get back on the throttle. I still feel I had no right to save that and I owe a lot of credit to the bike set up for getting me out of such an ugly situation.
I came into the pit and looked back to see that David had reeled me in a bit and was just ten seconds back. We were pitted on opposite sides of pit row so I came in first and exited about five feet ahead of him, he grabbed my butt as we were riding and shouted at me so I shouted back; it’s a great feeling to really enjoy battling someone. He went in to his pit and I headed out on the last lap with a 12 second advantage, needing at least thirty seconds to win. We were very much even through the first half of the course and all the while I knew the final whoops sections could be an area to make up some time. I charged hard through the first section of whoops, up the next sand wash and came to the last set of uphill car whoops. I made a deal with myself that I would leave it in fifth and keep the front end skimming no matter how much I burned my body up. Through the last few whoops I was only about a mile from the finish and pushed hard to the end. I looked back to see a Honda finishing just 15 seconds behind me and realized I hadn’t quite done enough to get the win. I rode down pit row to my crew and I was puzzled when they gave me the number one sign; as it turns out, the Honda that I thought was David turned out to be a rider I had just lapped and David came in about 42 seconds behind me. We had just won the race by twelve seconds.
I really enjoyed racing in Nevada again and I thank Shane for inviting me to team with him. I want to thank THR for their support, Precision Concepts and Monster Energy as well as all of the team sponsors that I will list later. A big thank you to my personal sponsors: Fox Racing, Alpinestars and Scott Sports. The pit crew did an excellent job yet again and the bike ran flawless. I’d like to congratulate David on the N1 plate and a great race; I really enjoyed it.