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Robby Bell Washougal Moto Report
Robby Rides AMA National Motocross At Washougal
It’s been common practice to use the word intense to describe this year’s AMA nationals and for good reason: the pace is insane. From the second lap of practice to the end of the day you’re at the limit of your abilities each time you roll onto the track, pushing for every ounce of speed you can conjure as both timed practice and the motos are an all out sprint. To add to the intensity of the weekend, the roost at Washougal is something to behold; imagine having twenty riot police, armed with automatic rifles loaded with golf ball to softball sized pellets, and every time you cross behind the rear tire of another rider they unleash a fury of pain as your chest and arms are littered with impact. I’ve been roosted by a UTV in a rocky sand wash for minutes on end, but that experience was nothing compared to facing the punishment of the 450-class spray.
I qualified for the mains third out of group B, but that was only good enough for thirty-second pick overall and I’d be lined up pretty far to the outside. The start of a 450 national fires adrenaline levels through the roof as a combined 2,400 horsepower hit peak revs, waiting for the slightest flicker of the gate to release havoc on the awaiting racecourse. The gate finally fell and I had a good jump, but just a few feet later I lost a little balance and my bike went slightly sideways. This was all it took for me to get pinched and I was relegated to the mid thirties coming out of turn one. The main field raced through turn-two and as we headed up horsepower hill I had my first taste of the Washougal roost. The spray came with such force that I could barely keep my eyes open up that first hill, I just kept the bike pointed straight and the throttle to the stop. The first few laps were pure chaos with riders going every which way trying to finds lines to make progress through the field or avoid the dreaded firing squad of roost. In those chaotic laps I was able to make some move up in to the twenties and set my sights on pushing for the teens. The first half of the race went by in a fervid blur and as the laps were winding down, I had made it up to the edge of the top twenty. From here a bit of frustration set in: I had a gap ahead of me and could see the next group of riders all the way up into the low teens, but I couldn’t match their pace and was forced to watch as each lap they’d be another half-second further up the track and my shot at reaching my goal of top fifteen was slipping away. With just a lap to go I had made my way up to twentieth and had Austin Howell just four seconds ahead of me. I made a big push to catch him, but ran out of time and crossed the checkered flag in twentieth. It wasn’t until after the race that I learned a couple riders were docked for cutting the course and I was bumped to eighteenth.
For the second moto I was lined up further inside and had the goal of getting a better start so I could see the pace of the riders who finished ahead of me. I lined up in between Mike Brown and Christian Craig, two of the best starters on the line, and in hindsight it may not have been the wisest choice. I got off the gate pretty well but both Brown and Craig were just better out of the hole, quickly pinched me off and I was forced to feel the familiar bombardment of the Washougal firing brigade once again. I came around the first lap in the high twenties, battling with Josh Hill and Howell when Hill’s rear tire though a rock at me that would change my race. It hit me in the face so hard that my head blew back with a bit of whiplash and, as I refocused, I noticed there was a bit more of a breeze blowing on my face; the rock hit my goggles so hard it popped my lens out of the frame. I could deal with the breeze, but every time I got roosted my goggles would fill up with dirt, which would quickly make its way into my eyes, and I made the decision to pit for new goggles. Unfortunately my bike stalled while I was switching goggles, which made the pit rather lengthy, and I rejoined the race in the thirties. From there I pushed to try to get back to the edge of the top twenty, but I wasn’t able to make too much progress and as the checkers flew, I crossed the line in twenty-sixth.
I finished 21st overall on the weekend, which is respectable, but I was expecting more from myself. In retrospect, my starts really hampered me; so much of the race at a motocross event is decided in the start and it’s something I need to improve to get a glimpse of the pace it takes to get inside the top fifteen. I fancy myself a quick learner and I definitely gained quite a bit of knowledge from this event that I’ll take with me into future events. I’m planning on racing the series finale at Lake Elsinore and I really want to make a run at getting well up inside the teens. I’d like to thank my team: Monster Energy, THR Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki and all of the team sponsors for their continued effort. Thanks to Fox Racing, Asterisk, Hookit.com and John Burr Cycles for everything they do for me as well. From here I have a couple weekends off and then it’s the penultimate round of WORCS at Cahuilla Creek where I’m looking forward to another battle royale with Taylor. In the meantime, hope everyone is enjoying your summer and I’ll see you at the track!