Zach Bell dominated the October 5-6 weekend in Ridgecrest, California, to lead a Chaparral Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki 1-2 at the 46th Annual Viewfinders Grand Prix, round six of the AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series, Presented by FMF.
Bell Wins Viewfinders Grand Prix
The 2017 series champ snatched the lead soon after the start of the 90-minute feature race, sprinted a few laps of the eight-mile course and gradually stretched his margin to an eventual one minute and 38 seconds over teammate Blayne Thompson. Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda’s Trevor Stewart gave it his all, though the current series champ was unable to match the pace of his rivals and had to settle for third, 36 seconds behind Thompson.
“It’s been a lot of hard work—a lot of riding and [my] back’s coming around a little bit at a time, and I’ve been able to train a little bit more, ride more and just get more comfortable on the bike,” Maxima Oils/GPR Stabilizers/Fast House KX450-mounted Bell said.
“All in all, it’s been a great weekend. Yesterday, I won the AA class, and today I got off to a second-place start behind Trevor and made the move right away, and I just kind of took off from there. I put in my three fast sprint laps like I do with Taylor Robert [at the WORCS races]. That put me into a big gap over him, and I just managed it from there.”
Stewart managed to hold second for the first half of the $8000 race aboard his VP Racing Fuels/Renthal/Fly Racing-backed CRF450RX, but when he pitted, Thompson zipped past, opting to pit the following lap, though they did a little back and forth, Thompson securing second aboard his IMS/Rekluse/Sidi KX450 by the time they got the white flag.
“We were having a really good race,” Stewart said. “I would make a mistake, he would make a mistake and we’d get right back on each other each time.”
But after one last pass, Thompson sealed the deal after Stewart ran into trouble. “Man, just like a couple turns later,” Stewart said, “I hit a false neutral on one of those singles and oh, I gutted myself so bad! Basically it took the life out of me. I skipped everything right after the race and went straight back to the trailer and threw up everywhere.”
The one bright spot for Stewart is that he’s still leading the points chase since Bell missed two rounds due to conflicting events.
Like Bell, Thompson has also missed two rounds, and he’s also been consistent, his runner-up finish matching his best so far this season. Far from being disheartened by his teammate’s runaway performance, he pointed out, “our lap times are actually pretty dang close. We’re riding the same exact bike—same motor, same gearing, everything—and I’ve got 45 pounds on him, so his bike’s going to be a little bit faster, but it’s no big deal. We’re going to keep working; this is the closest we’ve been, [especially] coming from fifth place [off the start].”
With a break in his schedule, FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Dante Olivera made the trek from Northern California for only the second time this season and finished 33 seconds behind Stewart for fourth, one spot better than he’d placed at round two.
SRT/3 Bros. Husqvarna’s Dalton Shirey came in fifth with FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Eric Yorba sixth as he recovers from knee injury. Beta’s Chance Fullerton claimed seventh ahead of Purvines Racing Yamaha’s Tyler Lynn, the Pro II winner for the second time this season. His Pro-class teammate Justin Seeds and Pro II runner-up Ciaran Naran aboard his SRT/3 Bros. Husky rounded out the top 10 overall.
JCR Honda’s Tarah Gieger wrapped up the Pro Women’s championship with her fourth consecutive class victory after starting the season with two runner-up finishes.
AMA National Grand Prix Championship (NGPC) Series, Presented by FMF
RESULTS: October 6-7, 2019
- Zach Bell (Kaw)
- Blayne Thompson (Kaw)
- Trevor Stewart (Hon)
- Dante Oliveira
- Dalton Shirey (Hus)
- Eric Yorba (KTM)
- Chance Fullerton (Bet)
- Tyler Lynn (Yam) – Pro 2
- Justin Seeds (Yam)
- Ciaran Naran (Hus) – Pro 2