Text: Robby Bell
The horizontal landscape of the Primm, NV desert was host to the fifth round of the National Grand Prix Championship series. All three Chaparral Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki Team Green riders were in attendance for their third round of the five so far this year. Warmer temperatures and the typical arid winds made conditions somewhat dusty. As a consequence, overtaking would be difficult and the start became crucial.
Off the starting line of the ninety-minute pro race, Zach slotted into second place behind the Yamaha of Justin Seeds. The course turned onto the man-made truck/short-course straightaway, which was heavily watered before the race began. Though Bell was doused with mud and water, he made quick work of getting into the lead. The Kawasaki rider put down fast laps to pull a gap over the field, which leveled out around thirty seconds. Just after the pit stops, about an hour into the race, Zach put down another impressive lap to cushion his lead. This later played a part as a crash in the rock section on the final lap cost Bell some time. Fortunately, he was able to maintain his lead to the checkers and claim his third win in as many appearances in the series.
In His Own Words
“The pro race on Sunday went really good. I got off to a second place start behind [Justin] Seeds. Right after the start it was really muddy and Seeds sprayed me. So, I was completely muddy from there. But I was able to make the move in the second or third corner and put in a few sprint laps. I got my lead up to thirty seconds or so and was able to kind of manage the race. The heat wasn’t too bad, but I got myself a little sick on the last lap. I came into the rock section and there were riders down. So, I tried to make a maneuver around them and ended up falling. I didn’t know how close Seeds was, so I panicked a little bit and forgot to breathe. I was pretty hot at the finish. Overall, I felt good out there, really good in the rock section and the bike felt great. So, it was a good weekend.”
Blayne Thompson — 4th place Pro | 1st place Open AA
Thompson’s pro race started well enough as he slotted into third place through the first few corners. Unfortunately, Blayne stuffed the front-end in a berm early on the first lap and fell. He remounted quickly, but lost a few spots and dropped outside the top-five. Over the next lap, Blayne worked back up to fourth place and had closed right onto the heels of Trevor Stewart. The Kawasaki rider stalked Stewart, but wasn’t quite able to make the move for the podium position. In the end, Thompson stayed consistent to take home a comfortable fourth-place finish.
In His Own Words
“I got off to a decent start [in the pro race]. Got into third pretty quick. Then, I made a little mistake trying to go after Justin [Seeds] and got passed by a few guys. I made a push on the first lap and was able to get by [Derek] Kelley and [Ricky] Dietrich. But then I just kept making a few mistakes and blew off the track a few times. I knew I had what it took to win, I showed that on Saturday [taking the win in the AA race]. Maybe I got in my own head a little bit and rode a little crazier than I should have. I should have calmed down a bit and smoothed it out, but I have to take it as it was. My training’s starting to pay off. It’s starting to come together and I feel like I can see it coming pretty soon.”
Clay spun slightly off the start, but settled inside the top-five pretty quickly on the first lap. Not long into the second lap he was able to make the move into third place and hung right on the two leaders. For nearly half the race, Hengeveld was within ten seconds of the leader, sitting in the dust from the riders ahead. Unfortunately, lapped traffic had a part to play as Clay found himself stuck behind one of the first-row Open Pro’s for over a lap, unable to make the pass as quickly as the Pro 2 leaders ahead of him. As a result, he lost the tow and the pace of the leaders. Still, Hengeveld continued to ride strong and held a solid third place all the way to the checkers.
In His Own Words
“I made it up to fourth after the first couple corners. Then, I made the pass for third in the rock section and just kind of stayed there for the rest of the race. I struggled with being in the dust and the lappers. I did my best to stay with the top two guys, but later in the race they gapped me a little bit. My body was carrying in a little bit of soreness. Last weekend I had a pretty big crash at the Idaho ISDE qualifier. My whole body was really sore, especially my right shoulder, but I wanted to go out there and ride and do what I could do. Now, I just want to make sure my body’s good for Sprint Hero so I can ride the best that I’m able.”