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AN EXHAUSTING RIDE The Heat And Course Takes Its Toll On Pro Moto And Quad Racers By Dan Sanchez Photos by GetSomePhoto It was obvious the heat would be a big factor for any motorcycle or quad racer at the 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500. Nevertheless, those who were brave enough came out to compete among some of the best riders in the world. As the entries began to pour into the competitive field within the Pro Moto Unlimited class came down to three of the best teams of desert riders currently competing. The three-time championship 1x team returned with Mark Samuels leading it, along with the same championship riders of Justin Morgan and Justin Jones, who rode together in previous championship years. The 66x team also returned to SCORE with Santiago Creel leading the team of Brandon Prieto and Eric Yorba. SCORE fans also witnessed the return of a Colton Udall team 5x with co-riders Nick Garvin and Derek Ausserbauer. After the 3 am start on Saturday, September 25th, the riders rode through the darkness of the early morning starting, with the 1x team who drew the first starting position. The 66x team and 5x team followed each rider dreading when the sun would come out to scorch the desert. By Saturday afternoon, the teams came in the same order they had left. Mark Samuels finished the ride for the 1x team, and the exhaustion was evident in his face before the win set in, and he began to smile. “That was a brutal SCORE Baja 500,” said Samuels. “The heat and how hard it is on your bike, and everything connected to it made it incredibly tough. There was a great turnout of spectators spread out and socially distanced along the course, cheering us on, and it felt great. It was awesome to see that people were being careful but also present as hardcore race fans.” Brandon Prieto on the 66x bike crossed the finish line shortly after Samuels and took a moment to catch his breath, and poured cool water over his head before talking to SCORE’s announcer Rat Sult. “The course was really good but demanding as well,” said Prieto. “But it was the same for everyone. It was a tough course for all racers, but I liked it. Everything went well.” Derek Ausserbaurer from the 5x team followed Prieto in at the finish to take third place in class. “We had a good day. We just kept it together and rode it back home,” he said. “We had some issues in the morning before the sun came on, but we got everything going again and got a good pace. The course is pretty gnarly, but it was really fun. There were a lot of turns and the washes were fun. A big thanks to SCORE for putting on events this hard, and doing it right now with the Coronavirus is even more difficult. We’re all really grateful to the people that made this happen and the people of Baja.” SEPTIEN WINS PRO MOTO 30 Normally, we would see Francisco Septien race in the Ironman class, but the heat and the toughness of the course perhaps weren’t worth risking injury. The local SCORE fans were exceptionally happy to see him compete in Pro Moto 30 with co-riders Shane Esposito and Roberto Villalobos on the 370X bike. This talented team of riders started with Esposito on the bike before handing it over to Septien around race mile 240. Villalobos was last to get on the bike and finished ahead of the Pro Moto Unlimited 5x team physically on the course to win their class and prepare for the SCORE Baja 100 in November. “This race was more demanding than in previous years,” said Villalobos. “It’s San Felipe, so the rocks and the washes were difficult. The heat also had a major impact on us, but we were well-organized, and everything came out well. Francisco had a fall, the bike is a little damaged, but he’s fine.” The Pro Moto 50 class had the 2019 Class Champion team of Giovanni Spinali on the 500x bike return to race in this event. The team of co-riders included Troy Pierce, John Griffin, and Jim O’Neil, who holds the record for the most SCORE class wins on two-wheels. These guys were up against the 514x team of Lawrence Janesky, who has competed in SCORE’s Pro Moto Ironman class in the past with his son Tanner Janesky. Tanner won the Ironman class at the 2019 SCORE Baja 500. At this year’s race, Janesky teamed up with Oscar Hale Jr and James Sones for a chance for a class win. Another team joining the race was the 522x team of Vance Kennedy and Dave Mayer, who rode faster than the other two teams to eventually win the class. Spinali finished second in the 500x bike, followed by Janesky. “We tried to remain in shape while the schedule was adjusted, because of the pandemic, and we also couldn’t practice recently because of the smoke from local fires,” said Kennedy. “We had to stiff up the suspension when we did a rider swap, and we did better after that. It’s adjustments you have to make so you can work with the rocks out there and the whoops. We appreciate that with everything that’s going on, SCORE was still able to put on the race. Not only for doing it in a difficult time but also for doing it in this safe manner. We didn’t have spectators, but it was still great, so we appreciate it. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.” In the Pro Moto Limited Class, the 180x team of Fernando Beltran with David Zarate, Rodolfo Patron, Rigoberto Gomez, Adan Garcia, and Michael Valenzuela finished the race to win the class. It was the same for Juan Carlos Salvatierra, who was the only rider in the Pro Moto Ironman class in this race. He finished to win the class and got kudos for doing it in such extreme conditions. “This is the toughest race I’ve ever been in during my career,” said Salvatierra. “Not only because of the course but also for the weather and the physical demands that come with it. It’s amazing how fast races can run here in Baja. I’m very grateful that during the entire race, I didn’t have any falls or any issues with my motorcycle. I’m blessed to have finished it. I didn’t arrive in San Felipe as early as I had hoped, so I was only able to pre-run 150 miles of the course because I wanted to preserve my body for the race. The sand was heavy, and it was demanding a lot from the motorcycles and the riders.” Champ versus Challenger In Pro Quad For Pro Quad fans, the 52nd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts provided a great matchup. 2019 Pro Quad Champion Adolfo Arellano in the 1a Honda TRX450R teamed up with Edwin Lopez to try and retain his title after winning the race here last year. But the 10a Honda TRX450 R of Javier Robles Jr, with co-riders Felipe Velez, Jose Meza, Said Sanchez, and Christopher Avalos had a smooth run that gave them the win at this race. “The course was exhausting, especially because of the hot weather,” said Robles Jr. “It was a long day for all of us. Fortunately, we didn’t have any problems and only had to stop to switch drivers and refill.” Sportsman Racers Show Up In Force If there was any group of racers who were eager to get back to racing, it was in the Sportsman Moto and Quad classes. A total of 13 teams, each made up of four or more riders, had a fantastic race that many won’t soon forget. Within the Sportsman M/C class, the returning champion Carlos Silva on the 200x bike returned to take the win. He was aided by co-riders Oswaldo Moncada, Joel Leal, Luis Flores, Javier Salazar, and Phillip Herrera. Finishing second in class was the 299x team of Shane Redline with Chris Phillips, Jax Redline, and Arnulfo Verdugo. In third was Scott Borden in the number 201x bike with co-riders hank Saler, Casey O’Donnell, and Dan Mastrude. Sportsman Quad had eight teams, including 2019 Champions Jovani Marquez, on the number 100a Honda TRX450R. At the end of the day the number 119a team of Esteven Ramirez, with co-riders Gustavo Torres, Alexander Lopes, and Pedro Montes took first place. Finishing second was the 106a team of Imanol Gomez Fierro, Ery Sandoval, Nicholas Ibarra, Jesus Osuna, and Jesus Torres. In third was the 112a team of Daniel Gaytan, Alex Camacho, Carlos Servando, Jose Enriquez, Eddie Bareno, and Gilberto Perez. The winners in the Pro Moto and Quad classes are now in a great position to start the 53rd BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 in November and could end a SCORE 2020 season with a Class championship if they can make it to the finish line. SJ Official Finishers PRO MOTO UNLIMITED  (400cc or more) (3 Starters, 3 Finishers) 1. 1x Mark Samuels, 30, Yucca Valley, CA/Justin Morgan, 30, El Cajon, CA/Justin Jones, 29, Murrieta, CA, Honda CRF450X, 9:39:43 (51.02 mph);  2. 66x Santiago Creel, 34, Mexico City, MX/Brandon Prieto, 34, Ensenada, MX/Eric Yorba, Rosarito Beach, MX, KTM 450XCF, 9:59:55;  3. 5x Colton Udall, 34, San Clemente, CA/Nic Garvin, Ladera Ranch, CA/Derek Ausserbauer, Santa Ynez, CA, Honda CRF450L, 11:15:17   PRO MOTO 30  (Riders over 30 years old) (1 Starter, 1 Finisher) 1. 370x Francisco Septien, 45, Ensenada, MX/Shane Esposito, 45, Temecula, CA/Roberto Villalobos, 30, Tecate, MX, Honda CRF450X, 10:57:00 (45.02 mph)   PRO MOTO LIMITED (less than 400cc) (1 Starter, 1 Finisher) 1. 180x Fernando Beltran, 43, Ensenada, MX/David Zarate, 30, Los Cabos, MX/Rodolfo Patron, 40, Tijuana, MX/Rigoberto Gomez, 30, Ensenada, MX/Adan Garcia 21, Ensenada, MX/Michel Valenzuela, 32, Ensenada, MX, Yamaha YZ250F, 14:29:02 (34.04 mph)    PRO MOTO 50  (Riders over 50 years old) (3 Starters, 3 Finishers) 1. 522x Vance Kennedy, 50, Peoria, Ariz./Dennis Belingheri, 50, Reno, Nev./Dave Mayer, 50, Reno, Nev., KTM 500XCW, 11:58:52 (41.15 mph);  2. 500x Giovanni Spinali, 54, El Cajon, CA/Troy Pearce, 52, Ramona, CA/John Griffin, 53, Julian, CA/Jim O’Neal, 73, Santa Barbara, CA, Yamaha YZ450FX, 13:04:20;  3. 514x Lawrence Janesky, 56, Middlebury, Connecticut/Oscar Hale Jr, Ensenada, MX/James Sones, Honda CRF450X, 18:59:59   PRO MOTO IRONMAN  (Solo Riders (1 Starter, 1 Finisher) 1. 725x Juan Carlos Salvatierra, 39, Bolivia, KTM 500EXCF, 16:00:44 (30.79 mph) PRO QUADS  PRO QUAD (Open engine displacement) (3 Starters, 2 Finishers) 1. 10a Javier Robles Jr, 30, Mexicali, MX/Felipe Velez, San Felipe, MX/Jose Meza, San Felipe, MX/ Said Sanchez, Tijuana, MX/Christopher Avalos, Yuma, CA, Honda TRX450R, 11:20:54 (43.44 mph);  2. 1a Adolfo Arellano, 37, Tijuana, MX/Edwin Lopez, Juarez, MX, Honda TRX450R, 12:05:09;  SPORTSMAN SPT M/C (Raced 433.34  miles) (5 Starters, 4 Finishers) 1. 200x Carlos Silva, 43, Mexicali, MX/Oswaldo Moncada, 28, Ensenada, MX/Joel Leal, 46, Mexicali, MX/Luis Flores, 22, Mexicali, MX/Javier Salazar, 22, Tijuana, MX/Phillip Herrera, 22, Tijuana, Honda CRF450X, 11:32:09 (37.56 mph);  2. 299x Shane Redline, 44, Amarillo, TX/Chris Phillips, 21, Tucson, Ariz./Jax Redline, 15, Amarillo, TX/Arnulfo Verdugo, 21, San Felipe, MX, Honda,11:47:16;  3. 201x Scott Borden, 48, Steamboat Springs, Colo./Casey O’Donnell, 35, Steamboat Springs, Colo./R. Hank Salyer, 49, Steamboat Springs, Colo./Dan Mastrude, 35, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Yamaha YZ450F, 13:03:54;  4. 203x Giovanni Aviles, 29, Tijuana, MX/Mauricio Ramirez, 28, Tecate, MX/Ricardo Montano, 29, Tijuana, MX/Geovany Rodriguez, 28, Tijuana, MX/Ruben Lujan, 19, Tijuana, MX, Honda CRF450X, 15:30:07   SPT QUAD (Raced 433.34 miles) (8 Starters, 6 Finishers) 1. 119a Esteven Ramirez, Tecate, MX/Gustavo Torres, 33, Tecate, MX/Alexander Lopez, 33, Tecate, MX/Pedro Montes, 25, Tecate, MX, Honda TRX450R, 10:19:54 (41.94 mph);  2.  106a Imanol Gomez Fierro, 19, Mexicali, MX/Ery Sandoval, Brawley, CA/Nicolas Ibarra, San Diego/Jesus Osuna, Mexicali, MX/Jesus Torres, Mexicali, MX, Honda TRX450R, 11:15:02;  3. 112a Daniel Gaytan, 50, Heber, CA/Alex Camacho, 26, Heber, CA/Carlos Servando, 47, San Felipe, MX/Jose Enriquez, 41, Mexicali, MX/Eddie Bareno, 36, Mexicali, MX/Gilberto Perez, 41, Mexicali, MX, Honda TRX450R, 12:36:20; 3. 4. 123a Hector Camacho, 22, Rosarito Beach, MX/Zachary Hayward, 41, San Diego/Cristobal Quezada, 45, Tijuana, MX/Jorge Carbajal, 45, Rosarito Beach, CA/Ismael Hernandez, 41, Escondido, CA, Honda TRX450R, 13:09:29;  5. 14a Luis Ortega, 35, Tijuana, MX/Hendel Rodarte, 37, Rosarito Beach, MX/Edgar Munoz, 22, Rosarito Beach, MX/Edgar Marquez, 17, Tijuana, MX/Erick Talamantes, 20, San Diego/Julian Zepeda, Honda TRX450R, 13:25:30;  6. 100a Jovani Marquez, 37, Cabos San Lucas, MX/Mario Alberto S., 21, Los Cabos, MX/elly Ramirez, Tecate, MX/Ramon Marquez, 37, Los Cabos, MX/Gary Gonzalez, 38, Mexicali, MX/Arturo Martinez, 29, Tijuana, MX/Pedro Gomez, 23, Constitucion, MX/Rodrigo Mora, Honda TRX450R, 14:43:46

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