Faced with “just” 220 miles of Nevada desert between Beatty and Tonopah, Honda’s Steve Hengeveld elected to take his XR650R all the way to win the first day of the inaugural McMillin Nevada 1000, round four of Best in the Desert’s Silver State Series, yesterday.
Partner Johnny Campbell stood by ready to take over at pit four, 125 miles into the race, but Hengeveld, close behind the second American Honda-backed team of Robby Bell and Kendall Norman, stayed on the bike, figuring he was already warmed up and closing ground. Sure enough, about 10 miles later, Hengeveld got by Bell as they tackled a rocky canyon, and from there, it was clear sailing the rest of the way for Hengeveld. His unofficial time was three hours, 50 minutes and 21 seconds after figuring in a five-minute penalty for getting on the gas a bit too soon after a paved road crossing, though it didn’t affect their overall standing.
The same could not be said of fellow Open Pros Chris Blais and Andy Grider on the factory KTM 690 LC4 Rally racer. Hit with the same penalty for the same infraction at the same road crossing, instead of finishing second, they saw their overall place plummet to sixth, which is where they’ll start day two – not what they wanted when you consider the dust anyone in back of the race leader faced.
Instead, it was Baja 500 winner Mike Childress who found himself the beneficiary, claiming the Four-stroke Pro win and finishing second overall in 3:52:03, unofficially, on his XR650R. Partner Chuck Dempsey, still mending from injury, was never called into action.
Bell and Norman ended up third overall, second Open Pro, in 3:53:03, unofficially, with Team Green’s Shane Esposito and David Pearson fourth on their KX500, just 18 seconds behind, despite running out of gas and having no rear brake for part of the race. Kellon Walch and Spanish rally racer Marc Coma were fifth overall motorcycle and fourth Open Pro, also victims of not quite enough fuel capacity on their 525 MXC.
The race is a four-day competition, run in stages, sort of like a rally. All the remaining days will be based out of Tonopah.