Robby Bell Race Report: WORCS Olympia, WA

I had quite the readjustment of my goals heading into the seventh round of the WORCS series. Three weeks prior to the race I had a pretty awful crash at Glen Helen where my chin came down on the crossbar, just to the side of the pad. I suffered a few fractures to my jaw, lost nine of my front teeth, and pretty severely sprained my ankle. Fortunately I was healing up pretty quickly as Washington approached, but I wasn’t anywhere near ready to race at full speed. My goal for the weekend had changed to simply riding for a finish to get some points towards the championship and hopefully maintain a somewhat comfortable lead heading into the final two rounds.

The WORCS crew wanted to add a Saturday evening event to the weekend: an endurcross/motocross hybrid that would put on a show for what actually turned out to be a pretty packed grand stands. The discussion prior to the event was to make the race worth full points towards the championship in order to get full pro participation, which I was originally totally ok with, but after my injuries it was a source of a bit of anxiety: not only did it make the weekend worth double points, it was also more track time on my ankle.

I hadn’t put on a helmet since the crash, nor had I tried to get my still-quite-puffy ankle into a boot (probably something I should have considered), so I was delighted that the helmet didn’t bother my jaw or chin at all. The boot took a little more effort to get on, but after a deep breath and a little force my foot made its way in there; I was part way to earning points.

After practice I actually felt pretty good, all things considered. I decided I could do more than just ride around in last for points, but I definitely wanted to stay out of trouble so as not to re-injure myself in any way. I knew Gary would be really strong and focused on winning both events on the weekend, and there were also a few extra pros who I knew would excel in the trees (Ricky Russell, Jake Argubright and Ty Tremaine) on top of the regular talent, so my hope was to ideally finish inside the top ten, but mostly it was to stay safe and not set my recovery back at all.

The WORCS crew had said that the Endurocross section of the WORCS X event was going to be pretty tame—they didn’t want to make it incredibly tough, just enough to put on a bit of a show for the fans—and that was just fine with me; a tough Endurocross section was the last thing I wanted to face.

The pro main at WORCS X would be a quick sprint, lasting just under fifteen minutes, and as the green flag waved I would say I got off to a cautious start. I was somewhere around ninth on the first lap, but a hard charging Jake Argubright and Justin Morgan quickly pushed me back a couple of spots. I settled in to my own safe pace and was stoked to make a pass on the second lap, getting me back into tenth position. I would have finished there, but I got a bit of luck as Jake and Blayne Thompson both had an unfortunate run in with a mud hole behind the motocross track, getting horribly stuck. Their misfortune moved me into eighth place, and as I crossed the finish line I actually gave a little fist pump of joy at having finished inside the top ten.

Sunday was going to be, physically, quite a bit tougher. Since Washington hasn’t received much in the way of rain for a while, and the trees prohibited any effort to water, the course was a dry, dusty, silty monster. Even though I didn’t have any plans of racing hard, I actually did want a good start; the dust was really thick in the back of the pack and would definitely increase the risk of crashing, or twisting my ankle, or catching my face on a tree branch, and none of those scenarios sounded too appealing.

The pro race was a dead engine-style start and at the first movement of the green flag I fired my bike to life, getting a pretty good jump. Ricky Russell and Justin Seeds owned the first corner, but I was able to move solidly into third place through the first few corners; I also had a great view of Justin’s block pass on Ricky to take the lead before heading out into the trees.

As the course turned into the forest I started to put it on cruise control. Even in third there was quite a bit of dust and I didn’t want to take any risks pushing it with the leaders, so Ty Tremaine quickly made his way by. Halfway through the first lap I could hear a couple riders right behind me, and as we reached a wider section of course I made it pretty easy for Jake Argubright and Justin Morgan to make the pass by. As the first lap wound to a close I looked back to see Gary Sutherlin behind me; for a brief moment I had the competitor’s thought of trying to race and keep him behind me, but I swiftly thought better of it and waved him by, receiving a courteous thumbs up as he passed.

I settled into seventh position and was stoked to have made it through the early part of the race without incident. A few laps in and a charging Travis Coy had caught up to me; I again moved over and made for an easy pass, not wanting to get mixed up in any battles. On that same lap Ty Tremaine had crashed out of third place, and unfortunately out of the race, which negated my loss of position, moving me back into seventh place. I rode there for the rest of the race, unchallenged, and was happy to have finished well inside the top ten.

As far as the championship was concerned, I did well to limit my losses. Gary finished second both days so I still carry a 39-point lead with me as the series heads back to the Southwest. I want to thank all of my supporters for helping me through this rough patch: Precision Concepts, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, Spy, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, FMF, BRP, RAD custom graphics, GoPro, A’ME grips, IWC motorsports, ATP mechanix, Northland motorsports, Rekluse, CryoHeat, the MotoXerciser, my mechanic Phil, and everyone at the race this weekend for the well wishes. I especially want to thank my wife Katie for being so strong and supportive over the past weeks; you’ve definitely helped lift me up.

I’m not going to be racing Vegas to Reno, which is unfortunate because I really enjoy that race, but it gives me more time to heal and prepare for the final run in of the season. Up next on my schedule is the Glen Helen WORCS event in late September. It’ll probably be around a hundred and forty degrees, and humid, so I’ll probably start training and riding in a sweatshirt and trash bag now to prepare.

Robby Bell
robbybellracing.com

Thank you to each of our team sponsors: Precision Concepts, Dunlop, FMF, THR Motorsports, Maxima USA, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, CryoHeat, Rekluse, VP Race Fuels, IMS, BRP, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, RAD custom graphics, Matrix Concepts, Zip-Ty, Boyesen, Seal Savers, MotoSeat, MotoHose, Northland Motorsports