For me, Glen Helen also represented an opportunity to try and make up a few points on series leader Gary Sutherlin. I had definitely lost some ground at the previous round, but so long as I’m mathematically in with a shot, I’m going to keep pushing him to the final checkered flag.
KTM’s Taylor Robert made another WORCS appearance, along with Honda riders Timmy Weigand, Mark Samuels and Colton Udall, which added a bit more depth to the talented Pro class and also meant a good start would be important with the added speed on the line.
As the gate dropped I got a pretty good jump, but Timmy and David Broderick popped off the line just a bit better, and a slight miss-shift meant I had to accept that I was going to be pinched heading into the first turn. I quickly dove to the inside around the Talladega first turn and came out just at the edge of the top-five.
Heading up the first hill I got a great drive and motored past Taylor and Gary, moving up to fourth. As we crested the hill, Timmy made a pass attempt on the holeshot winner Justin Jones, but lost traction on the freshly watered dirt and slid out. I had a clean line around Timmy and his fallen bike to the outside and was able to make a pass on Broderick as well, landing me in second position just behind Jones.
Halfway through the first lap the course headed to a “pro section”: basically a steep, rutted downhill that split the big GLEN HELEN lettering on the REM hillside. As the course came off the hill, Justin kicked up quite a bit of dust, limiting my vision, and I knew there was a hay bale down at the bottom just off the side of the course. I chopped my speed, being a little cautious not to hit the bale and Taylor, who was right behind me, took the opportunity to accelerate by and into second place.
From there Taylor had a little more pace than me as he quickly attacked Jones out front, and a lap later he had made the pass into the lead. I knew that if I wanted a shot at battling him for the win I would have to up my speed and get by Justin, but Jones was riding really well and it took me a few laps to get right up behind him.
On lap four I had finally closed the gap as the course headed into the longest and fastest straightaway on the circuit. Halfway down the straight there was a slightly blind rise with a few scattered rocks on the backside and as Justin chopped the throttle just a little, I held it on and accelerated up along his left side. We were side-by-side, wide open and as the course approached a right-handed turn I maybe had a wheel’s worth of an advantage, but to Justin’s credit he committed to out-braking me into the corner and held the position. Two corners later I made another attempt, only this time I held the inside of the track and I was able to repay the favor, out-braking Justin into the corner and taking second-place for my own.
In the time it had taken me to reach second position, Taylor had pulled around 15 seconds of a lead out front. I did my best to elevate my pace, but Taylor just had a little more than me, as he would pull between five and eight seconds a lap up to our pit stops.
After the pit, Taylor had close to 40 seconds advantage, but I felt as though I was getting a second wind. I pushed myself to go faster, and though I felt up for it physically, there was a disconnect between my mind and body and I just wasn’t flowing as well as I know I’m capable. I was riding well; I just didn’t have the edge I needed to find the speed that was required. I definitely didn’t give up, but as the race wore on a few mistakes crept in. The first was losing the front end and sliding out in a corner; then, a lap later, I hit a loose rock in the Endurocross section and fell over, losing quite a bit of time while remounting. Luckily I had a pretty good lead on third-place, so I wasn’t ever in serious danger of dropping a position, and at the end of a very hot two-hour Pro race, I crossed the line in second-place.
I was hoping to pick up where I left off at the Cedar City WORCS race, challenging Taylor for the win, and perhaps on another day I would have, but on this day I just didn’t have enough to match his speed. I can’t really complain, Taylor’s a beast on a dirt bike, and I had a great time racing on one of my favorite tracks. I’d like to thank all of my personal sponsors: Precision Concepts, Kawasaki, Alamo Alarm, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, Spy, Focus Apparel, EVS, USWE, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, FMF, BRP, ATP Mechanix, and THR Motorsports.
Gary put in a great effort, coming off a broken collarbone and a pretty bad flu to get third place on the weekend, so I didn’t gain too much in the championship as he still has 16 points on me heading in to the last round. All I can do is try to win it and see where the cards fall at the end of the race. In the meantime, the next event on my calendar is the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, another favorite race of mine (at least until around three in the morning), so I’m looking forward to getting out and doing another of my favorite activities: some night riding! Look forward to seeing everyone at GH once more!
WORCS top five results:
1. Taylor Robert
2. Robby Bell
3. Gary Sutherlin
4. Colton Udall
5. Justin Seeds
Thank you to each of the team sponsors: Dunlop, FMF, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, Hinson, VP Race Fuels IMS, BRP, Kalgard lubricants, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, Zip-Ty, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Seal Savers, Baja Designs, Northland Motorsports, CryoHeat, Hoosier Precision Machining