2018 Chaparral Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki Team Green Primm WORCS Report
Primm, NV was the location of the 2018 WORCS series finale. If
there are two things Primm does well to offer, it's sharp breaking
bumps entering the corners and deep sand whoops through the turns.
Furthermore, the conditions made for a true test of the racers as
the WORCS crew left most of the course un-graded between days.
After a full day of racing on Saturday, that made for a rough track
straight-away, first-thing Sunday morning.
Each of the Chaparral Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki Team Green riders was looking to end the championship on a high. Justin Seeds had a shot at creeping inside the top-five in the championship standings. Blayne Thompson had his best ride of the season earlier in the year at Primm (a second-place finish in BIG 6) and looked to replicate that performance. Lastly, Clay Hengeveld had an outside chance at the Pro 2 championship if he could get the win and have a few results go his way.
Justin Seeds - 5th place pro
Justin's had a history of nailing dead-engine starts. True to form, Seeds got his KX450 to fire up on the first kick and he headed towards the first corner in second. Opportunistically, Justin dove inside through the first turn and grabbed the holeshot. Seeds went on to lead the first lap before a mistake in the scoring shoot saw him fall to the ground. Justin was quick to remount, however, only losing one position. From there, he continued to battle in and around the top-three throughout the ninety-minute pro race.
Coming into the single-file scoring shoot on the final lap, with the checkered flag waving just thirty feet away, Justin held third just ahead of Gary Sutherlin. In a last-ditch effort to overtake, Sutherlin sent himself and his bike into Seeds, which put both riders on the ground. Justin was trapped under both bikes, unable to move until Gary got going. Seeds lost another spot while firing his bike and crossed the line in fifth.
In His Own Words
"I was feeling very positive [coming into the weekend]. I learned a lot at the twenty-four hour on how to take care of my body...eat and stretch. The track was a lot different than I expected, but I knew I needed to go out there and throw it down. I was super stoked on the dead engine start as I was able to get out front early. Basically, I lead the first lap until a little tip-over right before the [scoring] shoot. Then I stayed right there and ran most of the race in third.
"Gary and I had a great battle back-and-forth, which made it really fun. I just kept enjoying myself and was really happy with the way I felt, with the way the bike was working. Unfortunately, on that last lap...I get taken out and lose a podium spot. You know, racing's racing, a little more aggressive than I was expecting, but we'll take what went well and move forward. I want to focus on the positives. We'll keep fighting."
Blayne Thompson - 9th place pro
Like his teammate, Blayne was quick to fire his KX450 and settled into third through the first few corners. Thompson was pushing to make the pass on second place when he was caught out by the early-morning shadows. To explain, as Blayne was entering a sweeping bowl corner, the low sun on the backside shaded the terrain ahead of him. This made it difficult to see the numerous ruts through the turn as he focused on making the pass. Unfortunately, Thompson's wheels cross-rutted and sent him swiftly to the ground.
As a consequence of the crash, Blayne's handlebars rolled forward. Not wanting to lose any more time, Thompson did his best to adapt to the bars and began moving forward through the field, making it up inside the top-five. The team could tell he was struggling with something and without any direct communication with Blayne possible, decided to bring Thompson into the pit early to diagnose the issue. Sadly, the plan back-fired some as the time lost in the pit outweighed the benefit. Blayne rejoined the race at the edge of the top-ten and could only recover to ninth at the finish.
In His Own Words
"I felt really good in practice yesterday and really good at the beginning of the race. The plan was to compete up front and get a win, but ended up having a [few] issues. We got a third-place start, then about four or five corners in I ended up cross-rutting and going down. For some reason [in the crash] the handlebars moved forward quite a bit. It almost felt like I was riding a chopper. But there was nothing much I could do about it. I didn't want to stop and spend the time to fix it. I pushed as hard as I could to come back up [through the pack].
"[Heading into Gorman BIG 6], I like that place, but I have a bit of bad juju there. I'm going to come out there and do what we always do. We're going to go out there, push as hard as we can and try to get a win."
Clay Hengeveld - 5th place pro 2
Hengeveld was on the opposite end of the spectrum off the starting line, as compared to his teammates. It took Clay three kicks to get the bike fired and he entered the first corner outside the top-ten of the pro 2 field. Lil' Henge showed his determination as he passed up to third place before the close of the first lap. From there, Clay stalked second-place Austin Serpa for a couple laps before finally pulling the trigger on an overtaking move for the position. Just a couple laps later, Clay had closed in on the lead bike of Tallon LaFountaine. In nearly a carbon-copy of the pass he made on Serpa, Clay used a sweeping outside line to maintain more momentum around LaFountaine and take the lead.
Clay looked set to pull away out front, but just past the halfway mark he suffered a vicious fall. As Clay leaned into a rut that curved over a tall mound, his rear tire clipped a large rock buried in the sand. Consequently, Hengeveld's back end kicked wildly to the side. Once he landed on the backside of the mound the bike high-sided and spit him off. Clay was fortunate to get up relatively unscathed and after shaking himself down for a few minutes, he rejoined the race. After dropping back to seventh due to the fall, Hengeveld was able to recover to fifth by the finish.
(Quick Note: In the earlier qualifying race, Clay took home his first career WORCS 450 A class victory.)
In His Own Words
"I usually ride pretty well here [at Primm] so I wanted to show the speed that I had. [Getting the win in 450 A] felt awesome! I've been working for that one for a while, and to finally pull it off, I'm really happy for that. [In pro 2] my start sucked. I think I got a three-kick start. But after that I think I got into third, then I moved my way up into the lead.
"Unfortunately, I crashed pretty good and dropped way back. Honestly, I just swapped out. I thought I could save it, but right as [the rear wheel] touched the ground, it caught and sent e pretty hard. It happened so fast I couldn't really tell you what happened. But I got back up because I didn't want to give up and I finished fifth for the day. I'm pretty stoked to actually lead pro 2 and go home healthy."
Robby Bell, Team Manager -
"That was a wild weekend with some highs and lows. I'm absolutely gutted for Justin. He rode his tail off and earned that podium finish. I don't want to dwell on it, we'll just move past it and build forward. As far as his performance, it was fantastic: great lap times, strong all the way through.
"I'm definitely bummed for Blayne too. He looked to have the speed this weekend, but that fall on the first lap definitely set him back. Then, it was tough in the pit because all we could do was try to interpret his hand signals. I made the call to bring him into the pit early to diagnose the issue. However, as I was preparing for the pit, I didn't see that he had worked forward that lap. It ended up being really poor timing because he had just started really making some progress forward and the lengthy pit sent him all the way back to ninth.
"This was Clay's weekend in pro 2. He was showing how strong he was out there and was teed up to get his first pro 2 WORCS win. In the end, I'm very glad he's ok. I didn't see the crash, but I heard it was pretty violent. All three of our riders should be proud of their performances and effort. The fortune of the results just wasn't with us today."
WORCS Final Standings
- Giacomo Redondi - 165 (1 win)
- Zach Bell - 154 (2 wins)
- Taylor Rober - 147 (5 wins)
- Gary Sutherlin - 142
- Eric Yorba - 113
- Justin Seeds - 107
- Blayne Thompson - 77
Pro 2 Class
- Mitch Anderson - 152 (1 win)
- Austin Serpa - 144 (2 wins)
- Clay Hengeveld - 132
- Tallon LaFountaine - 116 (2 wins)
- Cooper Abbott - 89 (1 win)