The Primm NGPC normally takes place toward the end of May, as the weather dries and the winds pick up. With this year’s event having been moved to mid-October, the temperatures were a bit milder. Moreover, the typical desert winds were calm. The result was arguably the best Primm NGPC track conditions in recent memory as the course maintained a bit more moisture. Per usual, the course developed sharp, chattery chop through the higher-speed sections. This was coupled with deeper whoops and holes covering the slower, twistier areas of the course. It all combined to offer a physically demanding racecourse for the ninety-minute pro race.
DNF Pro / 5th Open AA
Zach made his much-anticipated return to racing at Primm. After testing his speed and the strength in his shoulder in Saturday’s Open AA race, Bell felt confident to give it a go in the Pro race.
Bell was lined up pretty far to the outside for the start of the Pro race. After getting a good jump, he entered the first corner with a lot of momentum and a slight edge for the holeshot. Zach’s momentum carried him a little wide upon exit, which allowed Dante Oliveira to sneak inside to take the lead. The two jostled over that next few corners, pushing the edge of their traction limits, before Zach cemented his grasp on the pole position. From there, Zach held the lead over the first few laps as the two distanced themselves from the field. A few laps in, Bell settled into second, stalking Oliveira just a handful of seconds behind.
As the race neared an hour, Zach began feeling some fade in his rear shock. As the handling of the rear end loosened, Bell and the team decided that, with nothing on the line in terms of championship, the best decision was to call it early. So, though the actual result didn’t show it, Zach’s speed and shoulder were solid, which were great signs upon his return to racing.
5th Pro 2 / 15th 250 AA
As the Pro 2’s took off, JP settled in around seventh through the hectic first few corners and straights. The pace was intense early-on, with many of the front runners matching for speed. This made it difficult to overtake, but Alvarez pick up his intensity a couple laps in to move into fourth place. From there, the KX250-mounted rider was pushing to reel in the two riders directly ahead of him. In the closing laps, Alvarez had finally bridged the gap to the third-place rider—Colton Aeck. As he pressured to overtake, the team was calculating his gas mileage in the pits. The deep sand and fast pace had JP right on the edge of needing to pit a second time. With the championship in mind, the team took the safe option of bringing him in for a quick splash-and-go. This, unfortunately, dropped Alvarez to fifth at the finish.
In His Own Words
“The day was ok. I worked my way up fifth or so and third place was just up ahead of me. Mateo [Oliveira] was gone today, and Tallon [LaFountaine] was up there [before pulling out with a DNF]. So, I was just focusing on a podium finish. Towards the end of the race, I hurt myself a little bit. So, I just settled for fifth today. I was going through a whoop section and I just sat down at the wrong moment. That compressed my back and took the wind out of me. It was pretty rough out there today. The track was silty and slick in spots. When they watered, it was really slick! It was definitely challenging. Looking ahead, I’m excited for Blythe. I’ve heard it should be a fun layout, so I’m really looking forward to doing well there.”
8th place Pro 2 / 4th place 250 AA
Clay got off to a decent jump as the green light signaled the start of the Pro 2 main event. As the racers sped through the fast and dusty initial sections of the course, Hengeveld funneled into ninth position. The Kawasaki rider did his best to stay with the lead pack of riders, but the early-lap dust seemed to cause a slight gap to form. After losing a little bit of the tow, Clay found himself in no-man’s land. He didn’t have any pressure from behind, but he couldn’t quite find the pace of the leaders. Hengeveld held strong, though, and late in the race he made a charge at Chance Fullerton for seventh. Unfortunately, he just ran out of time before the checkers flew, and crossed the line in eighth.
In His Own Words
“It went decent today. I’d say it felt more like a training day for me. I’m still just getting back into the flow of racing, and figuring it out. But I had a good weekend out here. Fourth in the 250 AA was good. Eighth today. It’s not what I want, but there was progression. So, I’m happy about that, and no big mistakes. So, that was good. Overall, a decent weekend for me. I’m just going to keep my head up and focus on the next one. Blythe WORCS is going to be a new place for all of us. I’m looking forward to riding that track. I’ve heard good things about the facility, and that it’s sandy. I like sand, so I’m looking forward to having a good weekend with the double-header.”
Robby Bell, Team Manager
“For starters, it was great to have a full team roster back at the races! Zach felt confident enough to test his speed and fitness this weekend, and he got to lead some laps and build some form. It was definitely unfortunate to call it a day early. But in the bigger picture, it was a a great weekend for him to get some race laps under his belt and feel good.
“I’m a bit bummed for Jake today. He rode his butt off to move through the field and get in position to challenge for the final podium spot. After the first pit, we could measure his fuel mileage. Then, the race went one lap longer than the first stint, so we were crunching the numbers and had a tough decision to make. In hindsight, Jake may have been able to make the second stint to the checkers on gas. But in the moment, with the bigger picture of the championship, I just didn’t want to risk it and ended up making the call to bring him in on the last lap. It’s a bummer it cost him two spots, in my mind. But he’s only one point out of the championship with three rounds to go. So, it was still solid points on the day.
“Clay had another solid weekend, logging race laps and building form and fitness. He lost the tow of the lead group a little early-on, and found himself in a lonely track position. I saw him find a good flow mid-race, which was positive. I know he wants better results, but with how long he was off, it’s really about improvement week-to-week so he can come out strong in 2021.”