SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal-December 2019

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 37 of 130

THE AMPUDIA’S BEAT BAJA Ensenada’s Alan, Aaron, And Rodrigo Ampudia’s First SCORE Trophy Truck Victory Most Certainly Won’t Be Their Last By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo The Ampudia’s Overall win at the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel parts, was no surprise for the team’s family and loyal fans who have followed their progress throughout the years. Like most off-road racers, brothers Aaron, Alan, and Rodrigo Ampudia started young, but they quickly rose to the top of the vehicle classes they entered. Aaron and Alan dominated the 1/2-1600 class for years earning several class championships, while Rodrigo Ampudia was busy winning in short course racing. In 2016, the three brothers got together to compete, dominate, and win the SCORE Class 8 championship. From the perspective of race fans, it was a step towards them getting into the SCORE Trophy Truck class, which was confirmed once they showed up at the 2017 SCORE Baja 500 in one and managed to qualify in the first starting position. As with any new team driving in the premiere off-road class, it’s a learning curve. But despite some setbacks in 2018, it was obvious they were busy tuning their vehicle and carefully honing their skills to the point where they began finishing in the top five at this year’s SCORE Baja 500 and Baja 400 races. For many, it was only a matter of time before the three Ampudia brothers would be celebrating a SCORE Trophy Truck win, but taking the Overall at the 52nd BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts was much more meaningful than they or their fans could have ever imagined. For the Ampudias, as well as everyone else in this year’s SCORE Baja 1000, the race already had everything stacked against them. It had been decades since torrential rains affected the race as much as it did this year, making the toughest off-road race in history, even more difficult. The Ampudia brothers in the number 10 Papas and Beer SCORE Trophy Truck would start fifth off the line and weren’t deterred by the conditions. According to Aaron, they stayed with their game plan which included brothers Alan and Aaron driving, with Rodrigo and Steve Covey navigating during various portions of the race. “Alan started the race for us and by the time he got to Ojos Negros, he was battling hard for the lead,” said Ampudia. “He caught up to and passed Justin Lofton and then battled with Tavo Vildosola. By about race mile 200 or 230, we were second on the road with Bryce Menzies in front of us. Coming down Mike’s, Menzies clipped a rock and rolled the truck, allowing us to pass and take the lead.” Aaron said he got in the truck at race mile 350, when the team was first in corrected times by the time they got to the highway sections of the course. “Alan gave me the truck with a good lead and by the time I got to San Felipe, we had about a 14 minute lead over Luke McMillin, who had been charging up the pack,” said Ampudia. “We got to the pit at La Ventana where we had a small issue with the truck, but by the time we got back into the truck and buckled in, Luke McMillin got by us. We had no more pits scheduled so we knew we had to run a very clean last part of the race. Rodrigo was riding with me and pushed me to get to a fast pace and we got to the crossover section at Corella de Molina and we were behind Luke.” Aaron and Rodrigo eventually caught McMillin after he pitted and reported an issue with his power steering. “We passed Luke and knew we had to put at least five minutes on him,” said Ampudia. “Rodrigo kept me calm and cool and we drove very carefully before giving the truck back to Alan. We had a 10-minute lead over Luke and the Red Bull team with Nassar and Toby Price, who had also made it to the front of the pack. We kept a good, but safe pace and were praying the truck would make it to the finish, especially after we were having some issues with our power steering.” Aaron, Alan, and Rodrigo made it to the finish and realized they had won their first SCORE Trophy Truck race, and one of the most difficult SCORE Baja 1000 races in recent history. “Our dad was the most stoked out of everyone,” said Ampudia. “This is for sure our biggest achievement and it’s been such a dream for me and my brothers to not only race a SCORE Trophy Truck, but to also win the SCORE Baja 1000 in one.” The win for the Ampudia team is just another stepping stone into learning what they need to do to take their racing to the next level. “We’ve learned a lot of things in this race to improve,” said Ampudia. “The truck is good but we’re adjusting some minor things to our strategy that will help us in future races. This is just the start and we will be racing the full program again next year. With what we learned with this win, we think we’re going to give everyone a run.” SJ

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