The Hungry Valley ORV park hosted the seventh round of the 2019 AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC). As it’s located in the mountains near Gorman, CA, this round is one of the more picturesque. In a departure from the desert terrain of the Southwest, Gorman offers undulating, hard-pack trails through the hills. The trails are linked together by twisting sand washes and the Hungry Valley Motocross track. While the expansive, hilly terrain makes for an epic scene, it can also make the logistics of keeping the dust down quite difficult. Though the hosting club did a great job with track prep, getting a good start is always at the top of a rider’s want list. Chaparral Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki’s Zach Bell came into the round looking to continue his win-streak in the pro class. Meanwhile, Clay Hengeveld would make his return to individual grand prix racing, following a successful outing at the 24 Hour of Glen Helen.
Zach Bell — 1st place Pro
The start straightaway at Gorman is a short one. As a consequence, most riders clamber over each other to line up towards the inside of the left-handed first turn. In a show of confidence, Zach staged a little further outside than most of the pack, meaning he’d need a good jump to pinch the field of pro riders off. Bell was equal to the task. As the green lights signaled the start of the ninety-minute race, Zach rocketed off the line and entered the first corner with the lead. From there, Bell quickly built a comfortable gap over championship-rival Trevor Stewart and Husky-mounted Giacomo Redondi. There was little drama for Zach over the course of the event as he methodically built his lead with each circuit of the course. As the checkered flag flew, Zach crossed to claim his fifth victory of the season in as many attempts.
“I got off to the holeshot and had a few good, fast laps. Then, I just managed [the gap] and kept pulling away. I felt good though the whole race. The lappers were a lot better this weekend. I only lapped a handful. So, that was definitely a plus because I didn’t have to deal with much dust or anything. The track shaped up to be really good too. It was a little dry yesterday, which was fine. But [the club] definitely watered it [more] for today and it was good. It got pretty choppy in some of the sand sections, but the bike worked well. All in all, it was a great weekend, I felt good and it was another step in the right direction.”
Clay Hengeveld — 3rd place Pro II
Hengeveld was lined up in a very similar to his stablemate, Bell, for the second-row Pro II start. The result was the same as well, with Hengeveld nabbing the holeshot ahead of the field of charging riders. Clay was able to hold the lead for most of the first lap before settling into second place behind series-leader Tyler Lynn. In a show of Hengeveld’s solid base of talent and fitness, he was able to hold the runner-up position for most of the race. It was only after seventy minutes that Clay began to feel the effects of such a long lay-off. Hengeveld is still building strength and range of motion into his injured wrist and after dropping back to third, rode smooth and smart to collect his fourth podium finish of the NGPC season in as many attempts.
“First full [individual] grand prix back and it went well. Obviously, there are some things I need to work on. But the day started off well, I got the holeshot. I was able to lead, not as long as I wanted, but for a little bit. We ended up third today. I can’t complain. I’m happy to be back, and be back racing. This is something that I love. I just want to keep working hard and build.”
Robby Bell, Team Manager
“The seventh round of the NGPC series was another great one for the team. The start can be crucial here and our Kawasaki KX450 and KX250 got both holeshots from their respective lines. Zach was once again able to get a comfortable gap early-on. After putting in that work, he was able to control the race and not take any risks. He closed the gap in the championship, but Trevor [Stewart, points leader] rode really well and finished second, mitigating the damage. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t hoping for a rider or two to get in between them, once Zach got the lead. The championship is definitely an outside chance at this point. But anything can happen at the last round, and all Zach needs to do is focus on maintaining the form he’s found and we’ll see where the chips fall.
“Clay had a really good ride. He had a good first-race back at the 24-Hour, but that’s a totally different experience to lining back up on the starting line after a long lay-off from a couple nasty injuries. I was very happy for him to get the holeshot and feel the rush of leading again. That’s a great first step to building the mental game back. From there, I thought he managed it well. He’s not at a hundred percent, and though I know he expects a lot from himself, this was a great first step toward getting back to his best.”