Things have gone pretty well for pro-level motocrosser Zach Bell in his first year of testing the off-road waters for Ox Motorsports Honda. After six rounds of the AMA District 37/Maxxis Big 6 Grand Prix Series and its featured AMA Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix (WCGP) Series, he’s won half of them and leads the point chase.
But at the 32nd Annual California Grand Prix and Buddy Goosen Memorial Race put on by the Prospectors Motorcycle Club at Gorman, California’s Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area, things didn’t go as smoothly as they had in the past.
“The fourth lap, a lapper hit me and it bent the shifter [on my CRF450RX] all the way in so I was stuck in third gear,” he reported. “The steering damper broke [later] so it wasn’t working any more. So I was hanging on for dear life that last hour!”
Whether due to those issues or the battle between Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda’s Trevor Stewart and FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing Team KTM’s Eric Yorba—the defending series champ—it meant Bell had to work hard to maintain a lead that was marginal compared to past triumphs.
Although he predictably lost the lead when he pitted a lap before his two closest pursuers, he was able to regain first when they in turn pitted the next time around. After that, he stayed a few seconds in front, providing a tantalizing target for Stewart and Yorba, and Bell ended up with a scant six seconds over Stewart at the finish, Yorba another three seconds in arrears.
“These guys are fast!” Bell acknowledged. “When it comes around that hour mark, that’s when they really start going and that’s where I’m kind of starting to slow down [since I’m used to National MX and 35-minute motos]. We just need to work on a little bit of bike changes, [do] more moto testing; I think where I’m at right now is pretty good from where I came from so I’m happy where I’m at.”
And after his fourth win of the season, that’s comfortably in front of Stewart: 184-155, unofficially. Since a win carries 30 points and 25 goes to the runner-up, basically all Bell needs to do at the final next month is finish and the title is his, though he stressed, “Right now, I’m not even worried about the championship. I’m here to have fun and learn about the off-road scene. I’m doing some hare & hound next year and some WORCS stuff, so we’re just testing the waters, getting everything sorted out.”
Justin Seeds finished some five minutes back in fourth place on his Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts KX450F and remains third in points at 121, with Yorba closing that gap at 116 points, unofficially.
An impressive fifth overall after some back-and-forth went to CST Tires CRF250R rider Beau Baron, the current WCGP Pro II champ retaking the point lead after previous leader and CST teammate Mitch Anderson had to spectate due to injury.
But Anderson being on the sidelines by no means meant Baron had an easy time of it because Clay Hengeveld—who missed rounds earlier in the season due to his own injuries—had his Northland Motorsports KX250F right there with him and even led a couple of laps before having to settle for sixth overall and second in class, just four seconds behind.
Pro Ryan Reina and WCGP Pro II riders Chance Fullerton (who had to ride his YZ125 after discovering his YZ250 was broken), Nick Stover, and Jake Alvarez rounded out the top 10 overall.
Big 6 GP Round 7 Results
- Zach Bell (Hon)
- Trevor Stewart (Hon)
- Eric Yorba (KTM)
- Justin Seeds (Kaw)
- Ryan Reina (Kaw)
WCGP Pro II
- Beau Baron (Hon)
- Clay Hengeveld (Kaw)
- Chance Fullerton (Yam)
- Nick Stover (TM)
- JP Alvarez (Kaw)
WCGP Women Pro
- Brandy Richards (Yam)