Zach Bell rolled to his fourth win of the season at the 32nd Annual California Grand Prix and Buddy Goosen Memorial, Gorman Big 6 race hosted by the Prospectors Motorcycle Club, round seven of the AMA District 37/Maxxis Big 6 Grand Prix Series, Saturday, November 4.
Serving as the next-to-last round in the AMA District 37/Maxxis Big 6 Grand Prix Series and its $2000 AMA Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix (WCGP) Series feature race, the Gorman Big 6 event was the tightest race of the series so far, the Ox Motorsports Honda-backed Bell having to fend off Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda’s Trevor Stewart and FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing Team KTM rider Eric Yorba, the reigning series champ. At the end of the 90-minute race, just nine seconds separated the top three with Bell six seconds ahead of Stewart and Yorba another three seconds behind them.
However, had Yorba passed Stewart during those close 30 final minutes, Bell would have had enough points over his fellow Honda rider to clinch the championship. As it turned out, Bell has 29 points over Stewart—184-155, unofficially—going into next month’s finale and basically just needs to finish to wrap it up in his debut year, though he insists he’s not thinking about it.
“Right now, I’m not even worried about the championship,” said Bell, whose Gorman Big 6 win marked his second consecutive win, as he scored the Viewfinders GP win at the end of September. “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.”
That doesn’t include heading to Baja to pre-run with the rest of his Ox Motorsports crew, though he didn’t rule out just pre-running next year.
As for the Prospectors Gorman Big 6 GP, which was held in cool conditions at the Quail Canyon MX track and Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area near Gorman, California, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Bell. Though he got the holeshot and led most of the race, a run-in with a lapper left him stuck in third gear due to a badly bent shift lever. After getting that fixed, his steering stabilizer had an issue that rendered it useless.
“I was hanging on for dear life that last hour!” Bell said. “But it was good; the track was fun. These guys are fast!”
Indeed they are, with Stewart and Yorba seemingly matched on speed but not quite able to find a way around Bell, though they both got around briefly when Bell pitted the lap before they did.
“Luckily, I had a really smooth pit and kind of gained a little bit of time on Zach, but it wasn’t enough to get it done today,” Stewart confessed, revealing he’d also battled stomach issues in the latter stages of the race.
Over the final 30 minutes, Yorba badgered Stewart hard and was just one second back at one point, but Stewart never provided an opening the KTM rider could take advantage of, though he was satisfied with the way he rode.
“Trevor and Zach were able to get a good gap on me early on,” Yorba said. “It’s tough to make up time [here], but I feel my fitness played a factor in making up some more time at the end of the race.”
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s Justin Seeds was unable to stay with the lead pack and settled for fourth, a little over five minutes behind, while fifth overall and first WCGP Pro II went to Beau Baron on his CST Tires CRF250R. In the process, class champ Baron regained the points lead from teammate Mitch Anderson, who had to sit this one out due to injury.
Clay Hengeveld had his Northland Motorsports KX250F ahead of Baron in the middle portion of the race but had to settle for second in class and sixth overall after finishing just four seconds back.
Pro Ryan Reina and Pro II riders Chance Fullerton (who did it on his YZ125 after having problems with his YZ250 earlier), Nick Stover and Jake Alvarez rounded out the top 10 overall.
The WCGP Pro points chase unofficially sees Bell leading with 184 followed by Stewart at 155, Seeds with 121, Yorba closing in with 116 and Michael Del Fante taking over fifth from Blayne Thompson, 103 to 91, after Thompson DNFed with blown rear-wheel bearings and subsequent snarled chain.
For full results, visit www.big6racing.com.