2019 Mesquite Chaparral Motorsports Precision Concepts Kawasaki WORCS Race Report
The sixth round of the 2019 WORCS season was arguably the most physically demanding this year. Held at Mesquite MX Park, the surrounding area is comprised of deep, soft sand, which roughened up to form brutal, whoop-filled straightaways and corners. The sand also bordered on a silt-like texture in spots, which made mechanical preparation just as important as the rider's physical prep. With such fine sand, passing dirt through the air filters and into the motor was a genuine threat. These two factors made the two-hour pro race an incredibly tough affair.
Zach Bell - 2nd place Pro
Zach showed he had the speed in Saturday's qualifying practice. He qualified second, just four seconds shy of Taylor Robert, which set the stage for a showdown on Sunday. At the drop of the gate, Bell snuckhis Kawasaki KX 450 inside of Ricky Dietrich through the first corner to grab the holeshot. From there, he set sail and established a small lead over the first few laps. As Zach hit the pro section to complete the third lap, Robert made a pass for the lead, with Bell settling into second. Over the next hour-plus, Bell held a strong pace, losing just a few seconds per lap to the leader, but pulling a comfortable gap on third place in the process. Zach is still getting his body back to peak physical condition, and over the final few laps he started to feel the effects of the brutal conditions. Still, he had a sizeable margin over third and took his third runner-up finish of the championship this year.
In His Own Words
"[Sunday] started good. I got the holeshot and put in a good two-lap sprint. Taylor and I were battling it out for a little bit. Then, he got by me and I just had to kind of ride it in. My back started tightening up a lot. I was trying to figure out better lines out there to do what I needed to do to get through the race. I tried to be consistent, but had a tip-over with maybe three laps to go and I lost a lot of energy trying to pick my bike up in that sand. So, all-in-all it was a good weekend. I'm definitely glad I toughed it out, pushed through to the end to get second and can't thank everybody enough."
Blayne Thompson - DNS
Unfortunately for Blayne, he never had the chance to line up for the two-hour main event. Thompson felt good in practice, as he enjoys the sand. But on the second lap of the pro qualifying session, he lost traction on the motocross portion of the course. A hard-pack set of whoops was freshly watered and Blayne spun sideways. His foot got trapped under the bike as he fell to the ground, twisting his ankle, which immediately swelled. After icing and elevating his foot overnight, Blayne couldn't get it in the boot Sunday morning and the call was made for him to sit out the event.
Clay Hengeveld - 1st place Pro 2 / 1st place 450A
Mesquite was a stellar weekend for Clay. In Saturday's 450A qualifying race, Hengeveld held second place for much of it behind Tallon Lafountaine. Being a sixty-minute, timed event, the top-four came through the finish just before the clock hit zeros and checkered flag came out. This meant an extra ten minutes on the track, which played to Clay's advantage as Lafountaine couldn't make the distance on fuel.
At the start of Sunday's Pro 2 main event, Hengeveld took the coveted holeshot. Early in the race, Clay traded the lead with Austin Walton as each rider had a brief fall in the sand. A few laps later, Lafountaine would pass both riders before Walton pulled out of the event with apparent bike issues. This put Clay into the second spot. After fending off a few attacks from Austin Serpa behind, Clay began chipping away at the lead the Lafountaine had built out front. With just a couple laps to go, Henge was able to maintain a strong pace, which closed the gap dramatically. As the white flag came out, Clay had made the pass for the lead stick and pulled a comfortable margin. This allowed Hengeveld to ride a smooth pace to the finish to take his second Pro 2 victory of the season.
In His Own Words
"I got off to a great start [in Pro 2], got the holeshot. I was battling with [Austin] Walton and Tallon [Lafountaine] early. Then, Walton slowed up [with mechanical issues], so I got by him. The course got really gnarly, especially in the silty sections. You had to be careful and ride the edges because the holes were so deep in the middle. The whoops were pretty much as tall as me [laughs]. But I was able to power through them and made a late-race charge to pass Tallon with a lap to go. After I passed him, I actually stuffed the front wheel and went over the bars. I was kind of freaking out for a minute. But I picked my bike up as fast as I could and took off. Luckily, I was able to pull a gap, so I'm pretty stoked!"
Robby Bell, Team Manager
"This race was brutal. To me, it was more of a classic WORCS race from the mid-2000's where the conditions would either make a man of you, or see you crumble. Bike prep was an additional factor, as the silt here is finer than most of anything we've experienced, even in Baja. Our bikes make so much power this year, but they pull air in so hard through the intake to do so. For that reason, it's very easy to start pulling dirt through the air filter. Fortunately, we have some great Profilter products we use, and some ingenuity on the part of our mechanics, and our bikes were able to pass this tough test.
"There's no doubt Zach has the speed to land on top of the podium. Two things that are still coming together for him are his off-road craft, and his physical fitness. He's had a couple injuries this year, that while they haven't kept him from racing, have definitely set him back. But for him to be able to grit through such a brutal race was a big step forward and something from which to build.
"Blayne's injury was such a bummer. It seems like a few times he's really started to build some momentum an injury or crash sets him back. He's a tough kid, so I'm sure he'll bounce back. For Clay, this was such a breakthrough weekend after a few semi-tough rounds recently with injury. It was great to see him able to stay consistent and strong through the two-hours, especially with how physical it was. Like Zach, it's a great platform to continue to build."