The Ox Motorsports Honda team of Justin Jones, David Kamo, Mark Samuels, Daymon Stokie and Rider of Record Colton Udall won the dramatic 49th running of the SCORE Baja 1000, the fourth and final round in the SCORE World Desert Championship. In addition, the second Ox entry of (Rider of Record) Ray Dal Soglio,Nic Garvin, Ryan Penhall and Ian Young claimed the runner-up spot with Bremen Racing/Chris Haines Motorcycle Adventure Company/Precision Concepts Honda’s Francisco Arredondo (Rider of Record), Max Eddy, Jr., Shane Esposito and Roberto Villalobos third after battling for the lead throughout the daylight hours in a nail-biting duel.
Some of that drama took place before the race when Udall crashed on Tuesday night while pre-running and broke his left collarbone. Since SCORE rules require the Rider or Driver of Record to either start or finish a race in order to be eligible for points, Udall knew what he needed to do. His team on the number 1X Honda CRF450X had a comfortable lead in series points after winning the three previous rounds, so all it had to do was finish to collect enough points to successfully defend the championship.
So, Udall got himself back to the U.S. that night, underwent surgery the next afternoon where his surgeon plated the bone back together, went back to Ensenada on Thursday and suited up to ride the first few hundred yards of the race on Friday morning. As many who have Baja fever would agree, he said, “It’s been nine years since I started racing in Mexico, and I’ve never missed a Baja 1000. My first year I won the championship, I had a broken hand and raced through that. The only thing that works for me is that I’m there and I’m supporting my team and I have to take on different duties as a manager position. It’s time for the team to step up and the riders are ready, they’re excited. David Kamo’s out of retirement so he’s really happy he’s getting to ride, so that’s really cool.”
In the meantime, Udall’s predicament required some juggling of riders. Instead of just Jones, Samuels and Udall, they pulled Stokie off the 3X Ox Motorsports Honda and also added two-time Baja 1000 winner Kamo, recruiting him on Wednesday morning after running into him at breakfast.
The SRT KTM team on the 37X Husky FE 501 (Jordan Brandt, Morgan Crawford, Cory Graffunder and Rider of Record Kevin Murphy) was first off the line on Ensenada’s Boulevard Costero at six o’clock on Friday morning, followed by Udall, Arredondo and the rest of the 40-motorcycle field at 30-second intervals.
It didn’t take long for the race to shape up between 1X and 45X. In fact, Esposito fell in one silty corner while leading the way to Ojos Negros on 45X, then looked up to see Kamo likewise crashing in nearly the same spot on the 1X bike. Both were quickly up and at it again, but Kamo was able to give the bike to Jones near Uruapan at Race Mile 80 with a slight edge.
“I had the entire coast and then some so I got on at 80 and got off at 300,” Jones said. “It was good, probably the best I felt ever in Baja! I rode really good. Made one dumb mistake and I ran into a fence—overshot a corner—but I assessed the situation quickly and got back to it and got back into the groove and didn’t freak out. I had a great time; the bike was amazing—the best 450X we’ve had, the best race bike we’ve had! I executed my plan perfectly and got here.”
Jones and the others couldn’t shake 45X, however, the gap between them varying but usually not more than a couple minutes with 3X on the second Ox Motorsports Honda working up from its sixth-place start to third by the halfway point of the 854.5-mile race. Baja newbie Dalton Shirey took a turn on the 45X from Race Mile 297 to 470 and demonstrated why he’s been at the front of both Big 6 and WORCS races this year.
“When I got on the bike, we were five minutes down,” Shirey said. By mile 450 or 460, I was on the 1X bike; I made up five minutes on them and I got right on them and I just sat in their dust forever. Then we got to these ridges where I remember when I was pre-running there were really slow ridges we had to ride. There was hardly any dust and I got right up on him and right when I went to make a pass, I hit a rock and my rear end kicked out from under me and I slid out. From there on, I sat in his dust all the way [to the end of my section]. I was bummed and pissed at myself for making a little mistake like that.”
However, the 45X wasn’t done trying for the lead and not long after, the team was back in front, though not for long.
“They [the 45X team] passed us as we were putting our lights on,” Samuels said. “We did a full service, and they passed us then. Shortly after that, they had issues—about 20 miles, I think, if that—then Stokie passed [them] back.”
The issue was a dead stator, which meant 45X was basically riding blind trying to go from Llano Colorado over the mountains past Mike’s Sky Rancho and to Highway 3 just south of Valle de Trinidad—in the dark and with no headlight. Since quite a few racers ride their pre-runners on the crossover road through the mountains rather than wasting hours driving back up to Ensenada then southeast to “Valley T,” Samuels didn’t give much thought at first to seeing Esposito before the facts hit him.
“I had to get [over] to the other side [of the peninsula for my next stint] to the finish,” Samuels said. “After 1X, 3X and 45X all went through, I got on my [own pre-run] bike and started riding probably 20 minutes after them. I was just cruising along and I see a bike with just a little [light from his] headlight and then I saw it was ‘Espo.’ I thought he was literally riding across [the crossover road] too to be on that [other] side, then I realized he was with his race bike! I [stopped and] was talking to him and he was like, ‘Can I ride with you?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’ So I rode with him [sharing the light from my headlight] for about 20-25 miles, I think it was, to get him back to Valley T.”
With the 45X pitting to rectify the electrical issue, the 1X finally gained some breathing room and stayed in front all the way to the finish from there, capping off a practically perfect season to win both the race and the 2016 SCORE Desert World Championship.
“The whole year’s been perfect in Baja for us,” Samuels said. “That’s the main focus for us and we went undefeated this year, which is pretty cool to do. It shows a lot. Obviously, we learned a lot from [11-time Baja 1000 winner] Johnny Campbell, and a lot of his friends come with us down here to help.”
The 1X team completed the race in 18 hours, 16 minutes and 42 seconds for a slower-than-expected 46.75 mile-per-hour speed average with the 3X taking second in 18:52:20 and the 45X coming back with a vengeance, closing on the leaders with its 19:36:10.
“We were an hour and 36 minutes behind the 1X bike when I got on the bike,” Justin Morgan said. “I’m hearing after the desert loop, I’d made up 15 minutes. I was just a little frustrated [being so far back after the stator issue].”
Pro Moto 40 (for riders 40 years and older) winners Jano Montoya (Rider of Record), Gerardo Rojas Zuniga, Kirk Russell and Francisco Septien took fourth bike overall in 20:44:12 while Pro Moto Limited (449cc and under) winners Mark Bradford, Ricky de la Pena, Austin Miller, Jim O’Neal, Schuyler Schoonmaker and Rider of Record Mark Winkelman were fifth bike overall in 20:55:34.
2016 SCORE Desert World Championship
49th SCORE Baja 1000
Baja California, Mexico
Results: November 18-19, 2016 (round 4 of 4)
Pro Moto Unlimited (450cc or more)
1x Colton Udall, 30, Yucca Valley, Calif./Mark Samuels, 27, Yucca Valley, Calif./Daymon Stokie, Australia/Justin Jones, Murrieta, Calif./David Kamo, Boise, Idaho, Honda CRF450X, 18:16:42 (46.75 mph).
2. 3x Ray Dal Soglio, 26, Scottsdale, Ariz./Nic Garvin, 22, Ladera Ranch, Calif./Ian Young, San Clemente, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 18:52:20.
3. 45x Francisco Arredondo, 38, Guatemala/Max Eddy Jr, Barstow, Calif./Shane Esposito, 41, Menifee, Calif./Roberto Villalobos, 26, Tijuana, Mexico, Honda CRF450X, 19:36:10.
4. 37x Kevin Murphy, 42, Fresno, Calif./Morgan Crawford, 34, Fresno, Calif./Jordan Brandt, 37, Fresno, Calif./Cory Graffunder, 22, Fresno, Calif., Husqvarna FE501, 22:06:16.
5. 14x Rodolfo Patroy, 36, San Diego/Fernando Cardenas, 26, Mexicali, Mexico/Tucker Hopkins, 23, Venice, Calif./Lago Constanza, 30, Ensenada, Mexico/Philip Jaramillo, 18, Tijuana, Mexico, Honda CRF450X, 23:00:38.
6. 88x Jorge Ramirez, 16, Ensenada, Mexico/Luis Diaz, 22, La Paz, Mexico/Sergio Pena, 17, Ensenada, Mexico/Julio Gaspar, 31, Ensenada, Mexico/Hector Cardenas, 23, Ensenada, Mexico, Yamaha 450YFZ, 26:41:55.
7. 35x Nick Gust, 28, Pescadero, Calif./Don Campbell, 28, Daly City, Calif./Mauri Herrera, KTM 450XCF, 27:59:02.
8. 25x Abel Burqueno, 45, Mazatlan, Mexico/Marcos Cabeza de Vaca, Bucerias, Mexico/Enrique Gonzalez, 36, Mexico City, Mexico/Alejandro Torres, 36, Mexico City, Mexico/Charles Goirand, 58, Mexico City, Mexico, Honda CRF450X, 28:46:09.
(9 Starters, 8 Finishers)
Pro Moto 30 (Riders over 30 years old)
1. 321x Benjamin Petter, 34, Renton, Wash./Reid Edwards/Kyle James, KTM 500XCF, 23:41:50 (36.06 mph).
2. 301x Christopher Schultz, 45, Kamuela, Hawaii/Geoff Hill/Ryan Leibelt/JP Canton, Joel Lane, Risto Niemi, Finland, Honda CRF450X, 26:55:47.
3. 313x Mario Murillo Jr, 42, Fort Worth, Texas/Jorge Flores/Adam Neuwirth, Los Angeles/Marc France, Honda CRF450X, 29:33:59.
(3 Starters, 3 Finishers)
Pro Moto 40 (Riders over 40 years old)
1. 404x Jano Montoya, 45, Winter Garden, Fla./Francisco Septien, 41, Ensenada, Mexico/Gerardo Rojas, 45, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico/Kirk Russell, KTM 450XCW, 20:44:12 (41.21 mph).
2. 455x Mike Johnson, 51, El Paso, Texas/Rex Cameron, Albuquerque, N.M./Jason Trubey, Lake Havasu City, Ariz./Chuck Dempsey, Oak Hills, Calif./Kevin Johnson, Boulder City, Nev., Honda CRF450X, 20:58:52.
3. 422x Chad Thornton, 45, Farmington, N.M./Alan Cameron/Mark Weirich/Tim Fitzpatrick/Dennis Belingheri, KTM 500XCW, 21:59:04.
4. 400x Colie Potter, 48, Las Vegas/Sterlyn Rigsby, 50, Temecula, Calif./Jason Miller/Lendon Smith/Robert Lightfeldt, 39, Hemet, Calif./Steve Herstad/Jason Miller, Honda CRF450X, 22:05:18.
5. 437x Craig Thompson, 42, Fresno, Calif./Jeff Vogt, 41, Fresno, Calif./Kyle Smith, 41, Vacaville, Calif./Jeff Evans, 41 San Jose, Calif./Guy Comer, 46, Clovis, Calif., Husqvarna FE501, 24:47:45.
(6 Starters, 5 Finishers)
Pro Moto Limited (449cc or less)
1. 101x Mark Winkelman, 58, Cedar Hill, Texas/Jim O’Neal, 70, Simi Valley, Calif./Austin Miller, Austin, Texas/Grant Statley, La Jolla, Calif./Schuyler Shoonmaker, Alpine, Calif./Mark Bradford, Santa Clarita, Calif./Ricky de La Pena, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Husqvarna 350, 20:55:34 (40.83 mph).
2. 106x Garrett Poucher, 33, Valencia, Calif./Michel Valenzuela, Tijuana, Mexico/Braxton Gallian/Jeremy Newton/Salvador Hernandez, Ensenada, KTM 350XCF, 22:43:05.
3. 160x Santiago Creel, 30, Mexico City, Mexico/Antonio de la Vega, 38, Mexico City/Patrick Reyes, 37, Mexico City/Jesus Zavala, 37, Mexico City/Didier Goirand, 21, Mexico City/Alejandro Sardi, 21, Venezuela, KTM 350XCW, 24:04:28.
4. 100x Fernando Beltran, 40, Ensenada, Mexico/Emanuel Verdugo, Ensenada/Ricardo Munoz, Ensenada/Fernando Tavarez, Ensenada/Carlos Miranda, Ensenada/Rigoberto Gomez, Ensenada, Yamaha YZ250F, 24:52:03.
5. 140x Boe Huckins, 38, Pueblo West, Colo./Brad Millikan/Dave Ward/John Bennett, KTM 250SXF, 27:00:09.
6. 128x Steve Kameda, 49, Japan/Waranyu Tanjaroen, 40, Thailand/Sam Nova, 28, Santee, Calif./Oscar Hale, 54, Ensenada, Mexico/Patima Kongpetch, 44, Thailand, KTM350, 27:54:42.
(6 Starters, 6 Finishers)
Pro Moto 50 (Riders over 50 years old)
1. 507x Mark Winkelman, 58, Cedar Hill, Texas/Lou Franco, Sherman Oaks, Calif./Jim O’Neal, 70, Simi Valley, Calif./Jeff Kaplan, Thousand Oaks, Calif./Andy Kirker, Irvine, Calif./Flipper Manchester, Reno, Nev./Bryan Campbell, Bakersfield, Husqvarna 350, 25:39:17 (33.31 mph).
2. 556 Don Blake, 61, Mission Viejo, Calif./Ken Hilgendorf/Tim Sherwin/Matt Woody/Daron Jaco, Husqvarna S501, 28:55:32.
3. 540x Michael Garmin, 52, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Chuck Shortt, Lake Spur, Colo./Bill Sekkers, Agua Dulce, Calif./Harry Harris/Scott Atchison, Honda CRF450X, 30:19:57.
(3 Starters, 3 Finishers)
Pro Moto Ironman (Solo Riders)
1. 702x Tony Gera, 21, Santa Cruz, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 25:01:28 (34.15 mph).
2. 715x Jeff Benrud, 47, Raeford, N.C., Honda CRF450X, 25:11:56).
3. 721x Jose Armando Carassco, 26, Rosarito Beach, Mexico, Honda CRF450X, 25:23:30.
4. 733x Derek Ausserbauer, 23, Santa Ynez, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 25:46:00.
5. 729x Michael Skurkis, 38, Henderson, Nev., KTM 450XCW, 27:48:51.
6. 775x Tanner Janesky, 21, Middlebury, Conn., Honda CRF450X, 28:29:46
7. 722x Daniel Argano, 52, San Luis Obispo, Calif., Honda CRF250X, 33:14:17.
8. 716x Ryan Gutile, 43, Madera, Calif., Yamaha WR450F, 34:22:45.
(11 Starters, 8 Finishers);
Pro Moto 60 (Riders over 60 years old)
1. 625x Mark Hawley, 65, Anaheim, Calif./Robert Koch/Dennis Greene/Dennis McLaughlin/John Marshall/Ropert Hanson, Reno, Nev., Honda CRF450X, 32:24:58 (26.36 mph).
(1 Starter, 1 Finisher)
1. 235x Fernando Barbosa, Miami/Fernando Ferreyra, Miami/Alberto Ruiz/Alejandro Holguin, Honda CRF450X, 23:27:33 (36.43 mph).
2. 212x Carlos Silva, 39, Calexico, Calif./Oswaldo Moncada/Joel Leal/Marco Machish/Rodrigo Gollaz, Honda CRF450X, 24:28:08.
3. 230x Kristopher Harvey, 36, Yuma, Ariz./Eric Saltzer, 33, Somerton, Ariz./Derek Ball, Honda CRF450X, 28:16:53.
4. 209x Hank Salyer, 45, Steamboat Springs, Colo./Gary Delaney/Josh Scott/Casey O’Donnell/Tilman McDaniel, KTM 500XCW, 28:35:14.
5. 216x Ken Greenfield, 56, McFarland, Calif./David Cardoza, 48, Tulare, Calif./Christopher Sa, 40, Tulare, Calif./Mike Tschida, 38, Clovis, Calif./Ike Hull, 66, Visalia, Calif./Mike Torres, 48, Tulare, Calif./Mike Sears, 42, Visalia, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 28:51:44.
6. 228x Scott McIntosh, 56, Novi, Mich./Mike Youmans/Justin Moore/Ben Dbothe/Jason Thomas/Tony Wrenk/David Fifer, Honda CRF450X, 29:46:06.
7. 263x Sidney Marchand, 43, Beaumont, Texas/Mark Low/Dustin Doucet/Kevin Gravett/Jim Morton, Caleb Bertrand, KTM 500EXC, 29:59:04.
8. 227x Masahide Kawaguchi, 44, Japan/Tadao Ezure/Hideyuki Fukuoka, Yamaha WR450F, 30:07:54.
9. 261x Sean Graves, 33, Denver/Sean Tefft, 34, Liberty Lake, Wash./John Graves, 46, Camp Verde, Ariz., Honda CRF450X, 32:48:04.
10. 215x James Williams, 52, Texarkana, Texas/Walter Lemonovich, Sagamore Hills, Ohio/Brent Balika, Medina, Ohio/Aaron Ard, Austin, Texas/Matt Seiler, Austin, Texas , Honda CRF450X, 33:08:57.
11. 211x Shinji Kazama, 66, Japan/Shinnosuke Kazama, Japan, Yamaha WR450F, 35:29:50.
(15 Starters, 11 Finishers)