42ND ANNUAL SCORE BAJA 1000
Despite a gnarly course, 75% of ATVs finish!
The 42nd running of the infamous SCORE Tecate Baja 500 drew more than 100,000 spectators and 288 teams to the truck, buggy, ATV, UTV and motorcycle race, which was held in Baja Norte, Mexico. A rainy winter meant a treacherous 438-mile course for racing teams from 26 US states and 10 countries, but 75 percent of the 32 ATV Pro and Amateur racing teams made the finish in the allotted time. Team Honda once again dominated with the TRX700XX taking the overall ATV win with Wayne Matlock, Wes Miller and Josh Caster averaging 42 mph. Javier Robles was second on another 700XX. Ironman Craig Cristy, the defending class 24 champion, made waves as well by making the podium in both Pro classes. His teams finished third and sixth overall ATV.
RESULTS: 42ND SCORE Baja 500 Class 25/Open Pro
1. Wayne Matlock/Hon…10:24:35
2. Javier Robles/Hon…11:14:30
3. Craig Cristy/Hon…11:33:40
Class 24/450 Pro
1. Rob Villalobos/Yam…11:40:50
2. Brandon Brown/Hon…11:53:35
3. Craig Cristy/Hon…12:09:55
Class 26/Utility 4×4
1. Robert Ransford/A-C…18:18:05
2. Reid Rutherford/C-A…18:55:10
1. Guillermo Berenguer/Hon…12:26:05
2. Benjamin Juarez/Hon…12:59:00
3. Ciro Calderon/Hon…15:47:32
Wayne Matlock did three sections of the 438-mile Baja 500 course and reported some problems early on but regrouped to win the ATV overall by almost 50 minutes on the Honda 700XX.
Craig Cristy was the rider of record for the #2A Class 25 team that finished third overall and the #100A team that was third in Class 25 and seventh overall ATV. Cattle guards are popular spectator areas for the big air.
Only two 4×4 teams entered the 500, and both finished, with the Rob Ransford/Arctic Cat team taking the class win by 37 minutes. Although most of the course was dusty, there were wet areas.
Second overall ATV and Class 25 finisher Javier Robles, Odolfo Arellano, Felipe Velez and Gilberto Ramirez honored Mexico with a well-done race.
Fransisco Septien is a Hispanic hero in Baja, and his team finished fourth overall motorcycle and first in Over 30 with Shane Esposito and Brian Pinard on a Honda CRF450X. Robby Gordon is also a fan favorite south of the border.
You have to love a race that has its own air force. Helicopters have radio communications with the top teams and can warn racers on the ground of danger on the course. They also warn spectators and photographers that racers are approaching.
Several Canadian teams made the transcontinental trek to Baja. The Raptor 700 team of Brad McLean, Jeff Sania and Ken Lehmann was sixth Sportsman ATV with a time of 17:43:28.
Team Chakas had Juan and Angel Sanchez, Daniel Salazar and Raul Cano in the saddle of the sweet TRX450R, but they failed to finish along with five other Class 24 teams.
Contingency and tech draw spectators by the thousands to Ensenada, which serves as start and finish to the 500 and two-thirds of all Baja 1000s (every third year the 1000 goes to La Paz, like 2010).
Full fenders and desert racing don’t mix, so the Arctic Cat team vented the rear fenders and heel guards for extra airflow and speed.
The Class 24 teams of Brandon Brown (103A) and Rob Villalobos both had major get-offs during the 500 but recovered for podium finishes. Kenny Sanford got tangled in a barb-wire fence in heavy dust, while Villalobos crashed and damaged his suspension.