Considering the start he’s had in his pro career, you can’t blame GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell for looking forward to next weekend’s Hangtown Motocross National for a fresh start.
“This whole year has been up and down, but it’s been good to learn from it,” Bell said in a team release. “Hopefully we can learn from these mistakes and just move forward. I need to start fresh. I’m not gonna go into Hangtown with any expectations. I just want to make it through the race. I want to go in there and see where I am, what the pace is, and not try to do anything stupid.
“The time off has actually been good. I put a lot of pressure on myself early on so to come home and get some down time was good for me. I was a little hard on myself. I made myself look bad crashing a lot and that’s not what I wanted. I feel really good in terms of my recovery and now it’s time to get ready for outdoors and move forward from this season.”
The mistakes Bell speaks off were big ones and his 2013 Supercross season will be remembered more for his crashes than anything else.
It was halfway through 2012 when Bell signed with the GEICO Honda team for two years with hopes of building on an impressive amateur career.
After dominating the 2012 Loretta Lynn’s AMA National Motocross Championship by sweeping all three motos in the 250 A class and being named winner of the prestigious AMA Horizon Award, Bell made his pro debut in outdoor action at the race in Southwick. Though he planned to finish out the last couple of rounds of the 2012 outdoor season to prepare for 2013, a pair of unfortunate injuries prematurely halted his highly anticipated start. Looking back, those early crashes were a harbinger of things to come.
“It’s to be expected; not everyone’s has that perfect beginning to their pro career,” Bell said. “I started really well at Southwick, grabbing the holeshot in my first moto, but I dumped the front end and hit my head. I recovered quickly and came back at Unadilla but I ended up falling again and hurting my back. That put me out six months right there.”
Bell immediately got on the road to recovery, planning to come back strong at his first 250SX East race in Dallas, but another unfortunate incident there suspended his efforts yet again.
“I only had a few months before Dallas to get ready,” Bell said. “It was a struggle and I wouldn’t say my fitness was 100 percent yet. I felt like I was good, but then I hit my foot on a triple and had that big crash they show all the time on TV. I just got too excited and happened to make a little bobble that turned out to be worse than I expected. It wasn’t a good start to my season.”
Bell’s rough Supercross introduction did not stop there. He followed up his injury in Dallas with another in Toronto, separating is shoulder in an early practice crash, ultimately sidelining him for the remainder of the race and for the rest of the Monster Energy Supercross season.
However, despite his misfortune in multiple rounds, he had several strong races, including top-10 finishes in Atlanta and in St. Louis. He also led a handful of laps, both in practice and races.