Zach Bell Wins Season Finale, Taylor Robert Clinches Championship
Devore, CA – Zach Bell used his vast motocross racing experience to win the final round of the 2019 Sprint Hero Racing season at Glen Helen Raceway. Running in the Pro Class, Bell scored his first victory of the year, ahead of Taylor Robert, who clinched the championship. Dante Oliveira was third.
The Sprint Hero format included two tests with six laps of moto along with six laps of off-road, and the track was significantly faster than the one used for the opening round here and it lent itself perfectly to Bell’s riding style. Bell was pleased to finally unseat Robert, who won the first four rounds.
“To come back from injuries and to have fun with it again was good,” said Bell. “I’m just ready to keep growing. This is a lot of fun and I hope we can see more people come out and compete.”
Robert won four out of five races this season and his second-place effort here was more than enough to net him his first championship in six years of trying with KTM. Not that he wasn’t successful in those six years, but injuries constantly interrupted his efforts. He stayed healthy this year and it showed.
“I was riding reserved for the first couple of tests because of the championship,” said Robert. “I have a strong enduro background and Zach has a strong motocross background so that really showed with those tests. I can’t wait until next year. I hope they keep doing this series and make it bigger. We need more people to come out here and try this. It’s a phenomenal type of racing.”
Dante Oliveira finished third in the race and was elevated to third in points, moving Gary Sutherlin to fourth. The final round was rescheduled and conflicted with Sutherlin’s wedding day, so he was absent this round.
“I had a slow start with some bad tests early on,” explained Oliveira. “As it went on, I was able to charge a little harder. The ridges were definitely gnarly and very slick, but it was a lot of fun. I’ll be training for next year to I can hopefully do better.”
In Open A, Noah Kepple won the race and Cooper Abbott, who missed the final round, clinched the championship. Austin Serpa was second in the race and third in points, while JT Baker finished second in the event and second in points.
Baker may have challenged Abbott for the championship, but a broken wrist forced him to miss a round. He plans to return for a redemption run in 2020.
“I was bummed I broke my wrist and I missed a round,” said Baker. “Cooper and I were super close for the championship, but I’ll take second. I love this style of racing, so I’ll definitely come back next year.”
Serpa also would have been in the thick of the championship but he also missed a round. Serpa will also return in 2020. He challenged Kepple in the race’s motocross sections, but Kepple dominated the off-road tests.
“I was beating Kepple in most of the motocross tests by a second and a half but when we got into the enduro tests he beat me by three to five seconds,” said Serpa. “We skipped a round because we weren’t sure we were going to run the whole season and I’m regretting that now.”
In Lites A, Mateo Oliveira put an exclamation point on his dominating season with his fifth consecutive win and the championship. Oliveira said his Sprint Hero racing is a key to his domination in WORCS Pro 2 Lites motorcycle competition this season.
“I’m super stoked to go undefeated in my first season in Sprint Hero,” said Oliveira. “The course was a lot different from the first round here. The ridges were fun and slick, and that kept me on my toes. I really like this series. It helped me a lot with my sprint racing and with my WORCS program. The laps I used to struggle on are now a lot better and I think that’s from competing here.”
Tyler Nicholson finished second in the race and was second in points. He ran the final race last season and it hooked him. “I ran the last race last year and I had fun, so I ran them all this year,” said Nicholson. “I’m happy with how I did, and I’ll work on my sprint racing for next year.”
Christian Strang was third in the race and that put him third in points. He liked the fact that even racers that aren’t quite in “race shape” can compete in Sprint Hero and have fun. “I’m pretty pumped to finish off the year strong on these new bikes,” said Strang. “I love the sprint race format. I love going as fast as I can for one lap. It’s a lot of fun. In WORCS you have to pace yourself. Here you just let it fly and go as fast as you can.”
The Sprint Hero Racing Series will be held again next season at track throughout the western United States.