Gray’s Harbor, WA was host to the seventh and eighth rounds of the 2019 WORCS series. In a unique format, the rounds would be held mid-week, back-to-back, with one rest day in between. To explain, round seven was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, while round eight would be on Friday and Saturday.
Conditions in Washington can prove novel for many of the WORCS regulars. The departure from the well-known terrain of the Southwest and into the slick, rocky, tree-root filled soil of the Pacific Northwest is quite the change. Though the two rounds were held at the same venue, the courses would be changed somewhat. Additionally, Friday morning rains made each round quite stark in their difference as the second round of the double-header became much more slippery and treacherous.
Zach Bell — Round 7: 7th place pro | Round 8: 11th place pro
The first round started well for Zach, as he was inside the top three early on. Bell quickly made his way into second, holding that position to the end of the first lap. At the close of the lap, there was a tricky added pro section with a couple fallen trees for the riders to traverse. Unfortunately, Zach didn’t have the best entry into the section and got stuck on the first obstacle. It took some time for him to get going again and he fell to eleventh place in the process. After getting going, Bell showed good speed and began working his way through the pack. He was able to make it up to seventh, but ran out of time to gain any further positions before the checkers came out.
The second round began much the same as the first did, with Zach slotting inside the top three off the start. As the riders hit an added, technical pro downhill, Bell got slightly off balance and then had his rear wheel tapped by a rider behind. The momentum shot him off the side of the hill, with his bike suffering damage to the throttle cables in the process. As the hillside was steep and overgrown, it took minutes for Zach to get his bike back on track and going again. Though the time lost was significant, Bell did his best to make up as many positions as he could. In the end, Zach crossed the line eleventh.
“I will never complain about a moto track being rough again! This was by far the most out of my comfort zone I have been while riding. Taking away from this week, I can do anything with a little prayer, hard work and determination. I really can’t thank my team enough for the support throughout the week. It means a lot while being on the struggle bus. We will keep working to get back on top!”
Blayne Thompson — Round 7: 11th place pro | Round 8: 15th place pro
Blayne views his talents more suited to the open, desert terrain of the Southwest, but did well to adjust to the slick, technical terrain of Gray’s Harbor. At the first round of the double-header, Blayne fought right at the edge of the top ten for the entire two hours. A couple late-race mistakes set him back, but Thompson was able to cross the finish line for a respectable eleventh place.
For the second round, Thompson looked to push a little farther forward and was riding well early-on. Unfortunately, in a faster section of the course, Blayne suffered a very hard crash. Onlookers later commented he was lucky to not be injured in the fall. To his credit, Thompson remounted and tried to continue, though the bike was badly bent. After struggling through a couple laps, he needed to come into the pits for repairs. The team got him back out on course and Blayne was able to salvage a top-fifteen finish.
“Well…Washington was a rough week of racing. [I’m] definitely not a woods racer, that’s for sure. Can’t wait to get back down to California for the last three [WORCS] rounds and throw it down. [They’re] three of my favorite tracks of the year and I’m looking forward to holding her wide around the desert! But [I] can’t thank the team enough, I definitely put them to the test this whole week and they absolutely killed it.”
Clay Hengeveld — Round 7: 13th place pro 2 / 12th place 450 A | Round 8: DNF pro 2 / 5th place 450 A
To many, it was pretty incredible that Clay was even considering riding at Gray’s Harbor. Just seven weeks prior, he had broken his femur in a violent crash at the Cinder Hills Sprint Hero. However, he had made enough progress with the injury to give it a go in Washington. Along with the femur, Hengeveld had also injured his wrist, but X-rays didn’t show an injury to the bones. As Clay hit the course, it was apparent there was a greater issue with his wrist. Hengeveld was able to endure the pain to get a pair of finishes through the first round, but wanted to follow up with the wrist on the rest day. Further X-rays showed a cracked bone.
Despite the news, Clay made the decision to see what he could do for the second round. Though he was able to finish the sloppy and wet 450 A race, the pain was too much in pro 2 and he pulled out so as not to risk further injury.
Robby Bell — Team Manager
“Washington offers something completely different than we’ve become accustomed to in the Southwest. It’s good to see the series branch out to add new terrain and highlight differing skillsets. Though from our side, the week didn’t quite go to plan.
“Zach showed good speed during the first round, and without the early mistake, he could have been in the hunt for a podium. It was a bummer that he had the issue on the first lap of the second round, as he lost something like seven minutes trying to get unstuck. He didn’t quit, though, and even with some bike damage he was able to make up a few positions and points.
“Blayne had a good attitude all week, even though he struggled a little bit in the technical terrain. He rode consistent at the first round and looked to build off of that. Unfortunately, he had that nasty crash early on in the second round. His bike was pretty bent up, but he soldiered on to get a finish.
“Clay showed how much determination he has to overcome an undiagnosed wrist injury and put in the effort that he did. It’s just so unfortunate that the injury wasn’t caught by the original doctors. But Clay’s tough, and we’ll get a solid plan to get him back to one-hundred percent so he can get back to the progression he was showing before the injury.”