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

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Page 55 of 124

THE BATTLE TO GET TO THE FINISH By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Jose Vazquez, and Guilherme Torres Photos by Get Some Photo For many of the racers in the four-wheel classes, simply getting through the SCORE Baja 500 course would present its own tough challenges, let alone the competitors who are doing everything in their power to finish and win. Out in front of these classes was the rivalry between Jeff Proctor of the factory Honda team in the No. 709 Ridgeline, and 2020 class champion Dan Chamlee, a privateer who has 16 class championships, in the No. 700 Ford Ranger. Chamlee finished second after starting in the third position, with co-driver Kurt Kimball. Proctor and co-driver Pat Dailey started first after winning the class in San Felipe, and kept the lead to ultimately win the class. SCORE LITES Within the SCORE Lites class, there were a total of 10 competitors who took on the 466-mile course, but only six finished. Among them was Matias Arojna IV and his family in the No. 1202 car, who ultimately hung on to finish and win the class. The win was some vindication for a disappointing DNF in San Felipe, but one that still had its difficulties to achieve. “ It was a really nice day for us,” said Arojna IV. Both my dad and I got to drive some fun sections. I blew a corner and a shock absorber at the beginning, but after that, we had a perfect race. Despite the fact that we raced more than 400 miles without our front shock, it was a great day.” Oscar Alvarez in the No. 1211 car also had a disappointing DNF in San Felipe, but managed to get through some difficult obstacles to finish second in this race. “The last 66 miles were rough as we had to deal with a lot of trucks and dust,” said Alvarez. “It was difficult to get over the mountains because of the bottleneck but our preparation was excellent and helped us bring it home. Thanks to SCORE for putting this race together. We’re looking forward to seeing you guys on the next one.” Finishing in third place was Rich Roberts in the No. 1208 car who just recently put the car together to make it to the race. “This car had been sitting for nearly a year and a half as we had trouble getting parts for the new gearbox,” said Roberts. “My co-driver Rob started the race and he did really well. The only thing that happened to him was getting stuck in the long jam at race mile 170. Matias (Arjona IV, No. 1202) built a big lead, and the only way he was going to lose it was if he broke. I got in the car at race mile 250 and just held my own until the end.” Class 1/2-1600 At this year’s race, the SCORE Trophy Truck Class wasn’t the only group of racers who had to wait 48 hours to get the official results. In the 1/2-1600 class, some teams issued protests on other teams while penalties were also looked into diligently by SCORE race officials. In the end, of the eight racers who participated in the class, only four finished and the official results left 2020 class champion Eli Yee in the No. 1600 car as the winner, with co-drivers Angel Barajas and Alejandro Corona. According to the team, they fortunately had an uneventful race, which ultimately helped them get their win. “Eli had a problem with a flat tire and I had an issue with my brakes but those were the only issues we had the entire race. It was a very good race for us overall,” said Barajas. Kevin Sanchez in the No. 1621 car finished in second with co-drivers Fernia Padilla, Christopher Sanchez and Chris Odell. Finishing third in class was Martin Rangel in the No. 1626 car with co-drivers Cesar Fiscal, Daniel Pacheco, Alejandro Lopez, Fabian Fiscal, Ricardo Coronado, and Rigoberto Sanlilan. CLASS 5-1600 If the 466-mile course was brutal enough for some of the vehicles with lots of suspension and horsepower, it was that much tougher for the 5-1600 class competitors. Out of a field of five competitors at this race, it was an epic battle between the well-experienced team of Larry Negrete Jr. in the No. 557 car, and the 559 car of Alejandro Medina. After more than 18-hours of driving, Medina and his team won the class. Their final time was 18:42:25 and averaged 24.91 mph on the course. Aiding Medina were co-drivers Ramon Fernandez, Antonio Espinosa, Alejandro Medina Jr., Mario Carrillo Haro, and Abraham Saldate. Negrete Jr. finished second in class but was happy to finish the race and proud of his team’s efforts. They consisted of co-drivers Ernie Negrete, Larry Negrete Sr., and Francisco Sanchez. BAJA CHALLENGE While the Baja Challenge teams are typically made up of racers who want to experience a SCORE race, the team that puts it all together is some of the most logistical and knowledgeable in all of SCORE racing. Most of the time, the BC cars have the highest finishing rate of any class and at this race, they lived up to that challenge. All three cars finished the SCORE Baja 500 with the BC1 car of Jay Jakupca and James DeGaine finishing first. The BC13 car of Axi Sandoval, Enrique, Rodriguez, Esteban Rodiguez, and Geraldo Solorio finished second. In third place was the BC4 car of Edward Muncey, with Roger Norman, Joe Duryea, John Pasha, Bill Evans and Riley Pasha. CLASS 7F AND 7SX In Class 7F and 7SX, it was the Ford Rangers that triumphed over the course and who finished to win their respective classes. In 7F, it was a race between Justin Park, Brandon Walsh, and Arturo Montano. While all three were guaranteed a podium finish, only Justin Park in the 714F Ford Ranger finished to win the class. Assisting Park were co-drivers James Tiglio, Josh Tieman, and John Agostino. Armando Duron and Dario Serrano were also guaranteed a podium finish, but only the Duron team finished to win the class in their No. 758 Ranger. This makes the second win in a row for the Duron family who also finished first in San Felipe, and now lead the class in points towards a possible season championship. CLASS 11 With seven entries making up this traditional class at the SCORE Baja 500, SCORE fans thought that the course may have been much too tough for them. Demonstrating an overwhelming amount of perseverance and determination, the No.1196 car of Alex Gonzales crossed the finish line barely ahead of the 20-hour time limit, with less than a minute to spare. Gonzales, with co-drivers German Melendrez, Clyde Stires, and Tim Sletten now lead the class towards a championship, adding to their third-place finish back in San Felipe. SJ

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