Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Precision Concepts Race Team Report

2017 BIG 6 GP Championship, round 1 | Adelanto, CA  The series opener for the 2017 District 37 Big 6 Grand Prix Championship began in somewhat unfortunate circumstances as a downed rider on a dangerous part of the course forced a red flag after three laps of the pro race so that medical personnel could attend to him. This caused an unprecedented situation as dwindling sunlight left little time to resume the race on Saturday afternoon. The Big 6 officials decided to restart the race, using a staggered starting format based on the running order after lap two, on Sunday morning at seven-thirty a.m. The track crew groomed the entire course during the evening, creating a different dynamic as the normally rough track conditions of the late-afternoon pro race were replaced with a glassy-smooth racecourse first thing in the morning.


Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Precision Concepts’ Robby Bell began the restarted one hour plus one lap run-off of the pro race in fifth; each rider left the line in five second intervals. Bell found it tough to make much time early in the race, actually losing a bit of ground to the riders ahead of him in the opening laps, but by the midway point of the race, as the track conditions began to roughen up slightly, Robby started to find the pace.

Bell’s stablemate, Justin Seeds, left the line eighth for the restart and was able to charge up into the three riders ahead of him, closing to within ten seconds of Bell in the opening laps, with Travis Damon and Jeff Loop in between them. Seeds looked for a way around Yamaha-mounted Loop early in the race, but found it difficult to pull the trigger with the speeds so close on a groomed course. Halfway through the race, as he pushed to make a move on Loop, Justin would suffer a minor crash, as his front tire washed out in a muddy corner, but he remounted quickly, not losing any positions in the incident.

As Justin picked himself back up and set out to regain the lost ground, Bell had started to find his rhythm and began putting time back into the riders ahead of him. Robby had closed up to within striking distance of the podium, but unfortunately his bike began to suffer a mechanical issue, as the header pipe started to crack, causing the bike to lose a little power, and then with just a couple laps to go it broke off completely. With the hampered power output, Bell did his best to keep pace, but would lose a position on the final lap to his hard-charging teammate, and cross the line in sixth position. 

Following his fall, Justin put on an impressive late-race charge, quickly closing the distance back up to Loop and Damon. Seeds moved into seventh place as Damon was picking himself up from a crash in a sweeping right-handed corner, and a lap later had closed up to the back of Loop. Down a high-speed, asphalt straightaway, Justin was able to make the move into sixth place and continued the charge up to his teammate, setting the fastest final-lap time of the field, and made the same move that he put on Loop, out-powering his teammate down the asphalt to take fifth place just before the checkers.

 “I think I put a little too much pressure on myself on Saturday,” commented Seeds about the difference the restart made, “so the restart gave me some time [to change some things] and on Sunday I had a new outlook on how I wanted to race. It was nice with the five second gaps [on the restart], you didn’t have a lot of pressure, and I feel like I ride the track really well when it’s fresh and just starting to break in. I was able to catch up to [Jeff] Loop and [Travis] Damon and next thing you know, we had a four-way battle going on with my teammate. It was hard to get by Loop, he’s a big ol’ road block. I was waiting for a mistake, but ended up making a mistake myself, went down and rung my bell a little bit. After the pit stop I felt really good and I was able to catch back up. I got by Damon and then got a run on Loop down the pavement section and got by him. Next thing I know I got a run on Robby and I was able to get fifth at the finish. All in all, I felt really good. I learned what I need to do for the races to come, I’m happy with how the bike worked and I’m ready to go into the next round.” 

“It was a pretty wild weekend,” said Bell post-race. “First, my race bike had some kind of electrical issue, we’re thinking, in practice, and with limited time to diagnose, Phil [Valdez, the team’s chief mechanic] had to switch everything over to the practice bike so I could ride that in the pro race. Then with the red flags and the early morning restart, it was just crazy, and my heart goes out to the riders who were injured. I struggled a little with the low, early morning sun [after the restart], riding a bit more cautious than the guys ahead of me. It was so smooth out there, too, it just didn’t play to my strengths. I found my rhythm after a couple laps, but then the bike started back-firing a bunch and felt a little down on power, and then the header pipe broke off with a couple laps to go. I think I’ve only had one other exhaust system issue in over a decade of racing, so it was an absolute fluke deal, and just unfortunate because I felt like I was good for a podium finish today. We’ll regroup and move on to Primm [the second round of the WORCS series] in a couple weeks. I feel like I’m still building my way into the racing season, the fitness is there, and we made some big improvements to the bike this weekend, so now I just need a little more early-race pace.”