Though he and partner Johnny Campbell enjoyed a cumulative lead of more than 10 minutes, Honda’s Steve Hengeveld couldn’t help adding more to that on the final day of the McMillian Nevada 1000, round four of Best in the Desert’s Silver State Series. With only a 119-mile sprint to do, the defending series champs decided to have Hengeveld ride the day’s entire distance himself, and he outrode the field with seemingly little effort, clocking an unofficial two hours, 11 minutes and 57 seconds. That gave the Precision Concepts/HRCA/Honda Pro Oils XR650R-mounted duo a four-day time of 17:27:00.
“Everything went as planned,” Campbell said of the entire event. “We had a strategy, we stuck to it. We had a couple obstacles to overcome – flat tires and whatnot – but all in all, Steve took the majority of the race and rode like a true champion and just pulled the lead. So, when I got on the bike, any time I rode, it was just get the bike back to him and not make any mistakes.”
Mistakes and other problems made the short final day much more dramatic than expected. To start with, day three runners-up Shane Esposito and David Pearson never even got started. Their Team Green/Pro Circuit/Dunlop KX500 apparently had enough and refused to fire, giving them a DNF for the day and fourth Open Pro in 20:17:45
Thus, as the field streaked southward across the valley between Tonopah and Goldfield, KTM’s Andy Grider was the second dust cloud with Honda’s Kendall Norman a close third as they chased Hengeveld. Suddenly, the second dust cloud stopped.
“I hit a couple square edges, and it swapped three or four times, then it hit a big rock in the middle of the road,” Grider said. Instant crash. However, he managed to eventually pick the Red Bull/Michelin/Motorex 690 LC4 Rally bike up, get it to partner Chris Blais at the pit then get medical treatment. Blais would soldier on to finish fifth on the day in 2:28:22, fourth overall in 18:02:44.
Norman took over second position at that point, hoping to make amends for getting lost in the last miles of day three and dropping from second to fourth on the Precision Concepts/Dunlop/Honda Pro Oils XR650R he shared with Robby Bell.
When Mike Childress caught and passed them on his XR’s Only/Temecula Motorsports/O’Neal XR650R, Bell and Norman didn’t mind too much. “All we wanted to do was finish second overall, and we were stoked!” Bell said. Indeed, getting third for the final day in 2:16:33, unofficially, boosted them to the second overall they sought in 17:44:33.
Childress, who’d soloed every day since partner Chuck Dempsey was still recovering from injury and was prepared to ride only if something happened to him, almost needed his reliever after smashing his foot on a rock a couple miles from the finish. He hobbled to the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon with the help of crutches, having broken the foot, but at least he had second for the day in an unofficial 2:14:49, good enough to vault him to third overall for the race in 17:58:26.
In all, 77 bike and ATV teams entered with 44 finishing the final day. The next race in the series is the TSCO Vegas to Reno 500-miler in October.