Honda’s Robby Bell and Kendall Norman started first and stayed out front all day at the 495-mile TSCO Vegas-to-Reno this past weekend, but defending race and series champions Johnny Campbell and Steve Hengeveld were next to roll into the finish. Their total time for the race, round five of Best in the Desert’s Silver State Series, happened to be 42 seconds quicker, giving them the overall victory.
Campbell had nothing but praise for the “B” team that are still in their first year of off-road racing at the pro level, saying, “The boys did really good. They rode a strong race; they rode the race pace, a first-overall pace all day. I was pretty proud of them. They made me dig pretty deep; I haven’t dug that deep in a while. It was pretty fun.”
Rather than being disappointed at missing their first desert win, Bell beamed with satisfaction at his team’s performance. “It was so cool to be out front and be the first bike to everybody and have them all cheering you on!” he said. “It just fires you up even more.
“Kendall started out just on fire and pulled time all the way to pit four. I got on and I pulled time to five. Steve got back on [for their team], and from there, basically from five Steve started inching back up on us. That’s when it became a race again.”
But it wasn’t until the final 75 miles that the number-one machine of Campbell and Hengeveld’s finally made up the four-minute start line deficit that would assure them of victory. Both teams rode Precision Concepts/Dunlop/HRCA-backed XR650Rs.
The XR’s Only/McCanzies/O’Neal XR650R of Mike Childress and Chuck Dempsey flirted with the overall early on, but they would run into minor problems that slowed them to third overall, first Four-stroke Pro, in 9:00:54, unofficially.
The expected duel between the Hondas and the two factory Red Bull KTM teams evaporated early. The Chris Blais/Andy Grider 620 LC4-based machine was third off the line but DNFed by pit four due to overheating from a crushed exhaust system after a crash. The other bike, a 595 LC4 ridden by Quinn Cody and Kellon Walch, had the second starting position, one minute behind Norman, and they would eventually finish fourth overall, third Open Pro, in an unofficial 9:03:17.
Over-30 Pro winners Mac Stewart and Jason Trubey rounded out the top five on their Framecon/Hammerdown Racing/Sunstate XR650R.