The motorcycle and ATV fields leave the starting line for the Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000; series title still to be decided.
The 48th Bud Light SCORE Baja 1000 has begun.
Racing commenced right on schedule at 6 a.m. from the Riveria del Pacifico Cultural Center in downtown Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, with the 14X KTM of Raul Hernandez leaving the starting line in the number one position, followed by the rest of the motorcycle and ATV field, with each competitor leaving at the customary 30-second intervals.
Of the pre-race favorites, the Ox Motorsports 3X Honda of Mark Samuels, Ray Dal Soglio, Brian Adams and Daymon Stokie started the race third, four positions ahead of the 1X THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki of Max Eddy Jr., Justin Morgan and David Pearson. The 5X Ox Motorsports Honda of Colton Udall, Samuels and Justin Jones started ninth, with lead rider Udall encountering a somewhat humorous moment when he stalled his machine on the starting line the very instant that the green flag went up—probably a first for Udall in Baja. He quickly refired the bike and was on his way.
The strategy for the Honda and Kawasaki teams is as follows: Samuels started aboard the 3X and will take it to Race Mile 74 before handing it over to Stokie. Samuels will then hitch a ride in a chase truck south to Santa Catarina and take over the 5X bike. He will then hand the bike back to Udall in Puertecitos. In a major shift in strategy, THR did not have Ricky Brabec start the team’s 1X Kawasaki and roll the first 10 feet before handing it to Justin Morgan. Instead, tentative plans now call for Brabec to handle approximately the last 10 feet of the 821.38-mile race and bring the bike across the finish line in order to be credited as a rider of record for the team.
“Me not riding isn’t going to hurt this team at all,” Brabec said. “They’re good riders. There is a lot of competition, so it is going to be a good day. I am really excited for the team, and hopefully it will come out on top.”
Udall reiterated that while today is ultimately about the SCORE Desert World Championship for the Ox Motorsports Honda team, the plan is to have both bikes finish the race and put up a strong fight for a Baja 1000 win. A finish by either the 3X or 5X bike will bring home the title.
“We’re going to let the race play out, and I am going to race the only way I know how to,” Udall said before the race. “If it comes to us, it comes to us, and we’ll take it home. We want to execute our plans perfectly.”
If there is a sleeper in the field, it may be the two-bike Monkey Business/PCT/Fast Falt Honda team, which is also fielding two bikes in the race. Ricky De La Pena, Tony Gera and Paul Lopez will race the 13X in the Unlimited Class while an ensemble cast that includes Mark Winkleman, Jim O’Neal, Jason Trubey, Aaron Tuck and Chuck Dempsey will be gunning for the win in Class 30.
Three two-stroke machines left the starting line today, including two Yamahas and one Kawasaki KDX 200, the oldest machine in the motorcycle field.
As of 2 p.m., reports were that Udall had taken over the physical lead of the race by Race Mile 335. The winning race time is expected to be in the neighborhood of 17 hours.