2021 Glen Helen WORCS Report —
The 2021 Glen Helen WORCS race would serve as a double round in the schedule. This meant each class would race both Saturday (round 7) and Sunday (round 8) for a slightly shorter duration. In order to mix up the flow of the course, the WORCS crew switched most of the off-road sections to run in the opposite direction from Saturday to Sunday. This helped add a bit of novelty to what was a lot of laps over the same terrain. Many racers seemed to like the flow of Sunday’s track better. However, Sunday’s pro race would be chock full of some drama caused by a pile up in the added pro-only rock section. In the end, the double-round seemed to be a success as it challenged the racer’s skill, mechanical preparation, and physical stamina. Additionally, in what was a collaborated decision with the team, Clay would jump up to the 450 pro class to get his feet wet in the premiere devision.
Saturday – 9th place Pro 450
At the start of Saturday’s 90-minute pro race, Clay got off to a pretty decent jump. Not far up the start-straight, he was unfortunately closed off by the riders around him. This saw him shuffled back in the teens through the famous Talladega first turn. From there, Hengeveld was able to make a sneaky-smooth move through the inside of turn two to launch himself up to seventh. The KX450X rider held solid until the course turned toward the pro-only rock section. As the pro field entered the rocks, the first few riders made it through somewhat clean, but the rest of the field began stacking up. With ideal lines being at a premium through the section, riders would need to make a decision upon entering if they trusted the rider ahead to clean the preferred line. Otherwise, the other option was to take a less ideal line and try to bulldog it through.
Unfortunately for Clay, he got hung up through the rocks on the first lap, which relegated him to tenth. From there, Henge looked good on the KX450X and battled with the riders just inside of the top ten. It seemed much of a rider’s lap was determined by how well they managed the rocks, as lap times for everyone would yo-yo from faster to slower. In the end, Clay was able to slot himself into ninth place to claim a top-ten finish in his first 450 pro race.
Sunday – 9th place Pro 450
Sunday’s event would have some drama, as twenty minutes into the pro race, the WORCS crew decided to red-flag and restart. There was a massive pile up in the rock section, which was deemed to be too great to continue the race. So, the pro and pro-am riders would restart the race for a 60-minute dash, minus the rock section. This changed the dynamic of the event greatly, as not only was the course less technical, it was also a full-on sprint, as no-one would need to pit for fuel.
As the gate dropped, Clay’s KX450X rocketed him up to fourth place through the Talladega first turn. He was able to hold onto the position for around half the lap, before being overtaken by a few of the series points leaders. From there, Henge battled between seventh and ninth for much of the race, gaining beneficial experience in the open pro class, and looking more comfortable on the bike with each lap. At the close of the race, Clay finished with another ninth place.
Saturday – 1st place Vet Pro
Though there were just three Vet Pro riders entered, the WORCS crew allowed them to line up with a full row of Sport A riders. So it made for a solid line of racers heading into the first turn. Robby lined up far inside, with only Justin Seeds one spot inside of him. As the green flag waved, Bell got a great jump and immediately pinched Seeds off against the track’s edge. Robby was able to grab the hole shot and looked set to take off. However, Justin was hot on his heels through the first couple las. Through lap three, Bell continued to keep a fast pace, which Seeds couldn’t quite match, and the KX450X pilot began to pull away. By the finish, Bell had garnered quite a lead and took the win.
Sunday – 1st place Vet Pro
Sunday’s race proved to show a bit more excitement. Bell and Seeds had switched their positions on the start row, no doubt with Seeds looking to repay the pinch-off maneuver. However, as the racers left the line, Bell’s KX450X rocketed out to the lead as he gave a cheeky look-back to Justin up the start straight. Seeds proved to be more up for the pace this go-round as he applied massive pressure on Robby through the opening few circuits. Then, Robby misjudged an overtaking attempt around a lapped rider. As a result, the Bell and the rider collided, sending the rider to the ground and Bell off the track.
After making it through a mine-field of boulders and bushes to get back on track, Robby turned around and made sure the other rider was ok. He gave the go-ahead, and Bell went to work catching Seeds, who had over thirty seconds lead after the fiasco. As the riders headed out on their last lap, Bell had whittled the lead down to just around five seconds. Then, as Seeds was attempting to overtake a lapped rider, he made a mistake and lost his front-end, handing the lead back to Robby. From there, the Kawasaki rider was able to cruise to the finish and take his second win of the weekend.
Robby Bell, Team Manager
“That was a busy and wild weekend! Last Thursday, we’d made the decision for Clay to jump up to the KX45X to get a taste of the open pro class. That’s where Clay wants to be, and I think he’s a little better suited to the bigger bike, so why not get a few rounds under his belt this season. Overall, it went pretty well for him. He looked really good on the bike and seemed to get more comfortable as the weekend wore on. His speed was already pretty good, considering he’d only committed to the bike a week earlier. I think after a couple more rounds he can be nipping at the heels of the top-five.
“The vet race is always fun between me and Seeds. We’re obviously out there to enjoy it, but of course both of us want to win and get all the bragging rights from that. On Saturday, it was a bummer he locked up a little and couldn’t quite run the pace. On Sunday, he was really up for it and nearly passed me a couple times. Then, I legitimately took a lapped rider out. It was totally my fault and I should have judged the situation better. The rider was really cool though, as he came by after and thanked me for going back to make sure he was good. After I got back going, I pretty much went full-send to try to catch Justin. I think I would have gotten to his rear wheel with maybe half-a-lap to go, which would have made for quite a finish. But we’ll never know, since he lost the front end, fell, and that was that.”
Credit: Dirt Nation Magazine
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2021 WORCS Schedule
1. Jan 23-24 – Lake Havasu, AZ
2. Feb. 20-21 – Peoria, AZ
3. Mar. 27-28 – Lake Havasu, AZ
4. Apr. 17-18 – Taft, CA
5. Jun. 12-13 – Preston, ID
6. Sep. 11-12 – Cedar City, UT
7/8. Sep. 25-26 – Devore, CA (Double Round)
9. Oct. 23-24 – Mesquite, NV
10. Nov. 20-21 – Primm, NV
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