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SHAKING OFF THE DUST Pro Moto Classes Take On The Baja Peninsula With Spectacular Results By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Jose Vazquez Photos by Get Some Photo Moto teams came out in full force to take on the 54th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. In all, teams had several riders to finish the entire 1226.35 miles of course, which started before dawn on November 18th, with some riders taking more than 48 hours to finish. The fastest were the Pro Moto Unlimited teams which crossed the peninsula at a blistering pace, starting with the 1x team of Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan, Kendall Norman, and Brandon Prieto finishing fastest with a time of 23:07:18 to win the class. It was an amazing race to watch as the 1x team of racers made their way into legendary status, but kudos also goes out to the 5x team of Derek Ausserbauer and Colton Udall, who finished the race in second place with a time of 24:22:47. Despite not getting the win they had hoped for, Ausserbauer and Udall took home a 2021 SCORE Pro Moto Unlimited Championship for their spectacular efforts this season. “It’s a great feeling to finish the course like we did,” said Ausserbauer. “It’s not easy to come down here and finish. To get a team of guys to figure it out is impossible, so to do it with my buddy is pretty awesome. It wouldn’t be realistic without the right coach, and that’s what Colton has always been to me. He has been a mentor and a brother. I’m just stoked to be here. The silt was gnarly with hidden kickers in there, but I had a pretty good time most of the way. It was wild to have Mark (Samuels) right behind me for about two hours. That was a cool experience.” Udall started the race second and kept a good pace on the course. “We executed our plan, and spread the riding of 1,220 miles over two riders,” he said. “We did it the old-school way, the Johnny Campbell way, the Bruce Ogilvie way. We are proud to bring the bike in within 24 hours. Derek rode great. We really persevered over some pretty heavy odds over the last couple of weeks, so we are really stoked.” Finishing the Pro Moto Unlimited class in third place was the 97x team of Jason Alosi, with co-riders Wyatt Brittner, Ross Neely, and Ray Dal Solgio. “The course was challenging, and had a mix of everything that kept us on our toes all day,” said Alosi. “You had to pay attention the whole way. Overall, it was a good course. The 1x SLR Honda team and the 5x team of Colton (Udall) and Derek (Ausserbauer) are no joke, and we were able to run with them early on, then they started to pull away from us. This is my first Peninsula run. There was new terrain, and it was more challenging logistically to pre-run. It was cool to see the Southern part of the Peninsula.” The 22x team of Shane Redline started first after winning the SCORE Baja 400, but the long course took its toll on the team who eventually finished in fourth place. Team rider Chris Phillips started the race. “It was definitely a super fun course,” he said. “It was also super-fast and rough in some areas, but we’re stoked to be here.” ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL ISSUES PLAGUE PRO MOTO LIMITED TEAMS Starting before the sun rises is difficult enough for the motorcycle racers, but imagine not having any light. That was what faced Christopher Gill on the 109x Pro Moto Limited team. “We rode in the dark for a little while with electrical light issues,” said Gill. “We tried to see in the dark, and then the lights decided to work, so then we plugged away at the miles.” The team started second behind 2020 Class Champions Fernando Beltran on the 100x bike but eventually found themselves first on the course after Beltran dropped back with some issues. Finishing in second place was the 115x team of Jake Eliason, with his family of co-riders Kooper, Kutter, and Shane Eliason, along with Shawn Carlsen and Mike Mitch. “We had a couple of small battery issues, but other than that, we couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Carlsen. “I love this course. I love the fast stuff and the rocks. It showed everybody’s abilities through the different terrains.” Finishing in third place was the 161x team of Eric Holt who put together a team specifically to run the SCORE Baja 1000 race and managed to get on the podium. Pro Moto CLASS RIDERS TEAM-UP The 308x team of Greg Bardonnex had its share of experienced top-class riders in it, including Francisco Septien, Shane Esposito, and Shane Shorno, along with co-riders James Justin Shultz, Sean Kepler, Morgan Crawford, and Chris Brown, who also contributed to the team’s eventual SCORE Pro Moto 30 class win. “I started the race, but I’m coming off injuries, so I’m not 100 percent,” said Bardonnex. “I was fortunate enough, however, to ride a few miles while we were in second place, then Shane Esposito did about 200 miles. Morgan Crawford did about 160 miles and they laid down some pretty good times. From there, Sean Kepler got on and did a very technical section on the cross-over and put in some good work. Everybody did a solid race. It is a tough grueling course­-really hard on the materials, but these guys kept it on two wheels. Other than one flat, we had no other problems.” The team had a solid race, and with their class race win also came a 2021 Season Class Championship. The 308x team had been battling all season long with the 325x team of Jano Montoya. It was no different this time across the Baja peninsula, as Montoya’s talented team of racers including, Bryce Stavron, Alberto Ruiz, Kyle Tichenor, and David Zarate, continued to put on the pressure. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the fastest time and eventually finished in second place. “The course was fun,” said Montoya. “It was the SCORE Baja 1000 which had a little bit of everything we wanted to see. There were some whoops, more rocks than we have ever seen, and some fast areas. The silt is something you expect from the racecourse. We wanted to keep the guys fresh so we switched a few times. We had no issues with tires, just some wiring issues with the lights.” Finishing in third place was a group out of Medford, Oregon, the 331x team of Christopher Calmenero. Riding a KTM 450XCF, the team got together for their first and only race of this season, managing an impressive podium finish for their tremendous effort. Many of the Pro Moto 30 racers were also competing in Pro Moto 40 and other classes. As a result, some of the teams had well-experienced riders assisting to maximize their efforts to get on the podium. Among the Pro Moto 40 racers, the 408x team of Ryan Liebelt got to the finish first with the help of co-riders Jason Trubey and Brandon Wright. The team also shared riders with the 308x team, including Greg Bardonnex and Shane Shorno, giving both of them two Pro Moto Class wins in this race. “We had a couple of wheel changes and an air-filter change but other than that, very uneventful,” said Liebelt. “Steve Tichenor, who has ridden with me in every race this year, broke his arm Sunday while play-riding with his 13-year-old son. He goes into surgery on Monday to put two plates in his wrist. So, he has been our home logistics guy, staring at the computer all day and all night, and constantly texting us updates. A big thanks to him. He has been a part of this all year. He deserves this medal more than any of us do.” Liebelt finished off the season with wins in every race and with this one, he topped it all off by earning the Class Championship. Finishing second place in class was the 441x team of Alirio Amado, followed by the 424x team of William St. Laurent who took third-place. Pro Moto 50 had Giovanni Spinali take home a well-earned win and a season-ending championship away from last year’s champion Vance Kennedy in the 500x bike. Both teams have had a phenomenal season finishing first and second in several races. Kennedy’s DNF at the SCORE Baja 500 gave Spinali enough points, along with this SCORE Baja 1000 victory, to win the championship. Both teams, however, deserve praise for their skill, tenacity, and giving SCORE fans excellent racing action all season. “We are super happy about the win,” said Spinali. “It was a battle until about race mile 880. We were less than two miles apart for the whole race. When I got on the bike, we were two minutes down. I caught Kennedy and passed them. I don’t know if they had bike issues or what, but we put 60 or 70 miles on them. It was a relief to be able to just get on the last one hundred miles and bring it home. Preparation is the key. I’ve done this race nine times and only won it one other time, and that was a loop. This is my first point-to-point victory. Everybody has issues. We had battery problems, but it is how you adapt to the problems and solve them to keep the bike moving. We finally did it. We won one to the tip, so we are super happy.” In Pro Moto 60, Craig Wear out of Carson City, Nevada finished first with his team of Dennis Greene, Dennis McLaughlin, Victor Borg, Steve Cano, and Bill Sekeres. Finishing in second place was the 628x team of Scott McIntosh with co-riders Fon Whittington, Danny Steyn, Richard Jackson, Bob Kimber, Mike Wimperman, Dave Heath, and Sergio Martin. PRO QUAD TEAMS HANG TOUGH The 2021 Season had great competition within the Pro Quad teams, starting with the 1A 2020 Champions Jose Luis Velez, who started the season winning the SCORE Baja 500 and SCORE Baja 400. The 37A team of Ricardo Villafana also had a pretty good season winning the SCORE San Felipe 250 and with a third-place finish at the SCORE Baja 400. Both Velez and Villafana were the likely teams to get to the podium and came to the 54th SCORE Baja 1000 to battle along the peninsula. But the course was tough on all the competitors giving these two racers mechanical troubles along the way. For Oskar Espinosa, a local racer from Ensenada, Mexico, he saw several opportunities to overtake the lead and nursed the team’s Honda TRX450R to the finish line for the class win. “The course was very demanding, especially because of the conditions of the road,” said Espinosa. “We had tough competition from the start with two other quads. After mile 600, we got some separation and created a two-hour advantage to the second-placed. The quad was making some weird noises and we thought it wouldn’t make it to the end, so we slowed down and played it safe so we could bring it all the way to the finish line.” Rodrigo Mora, also out of Ensenada, Mexico in the 3A Honda TRX450R, was another local racer who surprised the class with a second-place finish. “I’m very happy about the support we got from our team,” said Mora. “We had quite a few issues with our quad, but we never gave up. We had an accident in which we had to replace several parts and we couldn’t race for four hours during the night as our lights went off. Yet, we still finished in a pretty good position. It’s my first time racing all the way to La Paz and the scenery is really beautiful down here. There was a good mix of technical and fast sections and we had to take really good care of the quad during the rocky stretch.” Velez and his team ultimately finished in third place, while Villafana had mechanical issues and had to post a DNF. Despite the loss, Villafanna earned enough points throughout the season to walk away with the SCORE Pro Quad Championship. This race also had a Pro Quad Ironman class in which Miguel Arranz from Spain and Francisco Villavicencio from Guerro Negro Mexico decided to take on the entire course solo. Arranz in the 99a Honda TRX450R battled the elements and managed to finish the race in 46:17:54 to take first place. Villavicencio finished not too far behind with a time of 46:47:05. Both men deserve kudos for taking on such a grueling course on their own, and for allowing the Pro Quad Ironman class to have a 100 percent finish rate. See more racer stats on Score's Fan Pages. SJ

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