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Page 47 of 102

FOCUS OR FAILURE Moto And Quad Class Racers Repeat Victories In Several Classes By Dan Sanchez, Paul Hanson, Guilherme Torres, and Cindy Clark Photos by Get Some Photo It wasn’t long before the last of the car and truck class vehicles left the starting line, that the motorcycle and quad classes began heading towards the finish line. In the effort of safety, all motorcycle and quad classes left at 4:00 am Saturday morning (June 3rd) to give them as much of a gap as possible ahead of the SCORE Trophy Trucks and other classes, which had a 9am start time.  Leading the group of first riders in, was the 10x team of Juan Carlos Salvatierra, who started the race first and finished first to add a second SCORE Pro Moto Unlimited class win to the season. “Two years ago it was a dream to just participate in the SCORE Baja 500 and then I won the Ironman,” said Salvatierra. “I couldn’t have dreamed that I would also win the Pro Moto Unlimited class. It is a dream come true. This race is technical and rough. It was very physical and demanding on the body. I haven’t had blisters on my hand in a long time, not even in the SCORE Baja 1000 or when I did the Ironman, but I got blisters here.” Co-riders on the 10x team included Arturo Salas Jr., Diego Llanos, and Shane Logan. “My section, from race mile 160 to 260, was very technical, but also very fast,” said Llanos. “We had a good strategy as a team and are all pleased that we managed to get a good result. I didn’t have any problems at all. I tried to be cautious for several moments and the bike responded really well.” “I felt like I was either going really fast or really slow,” said Logan. “It was technical and I had to pay attention. It’s a lot to remember all my lines and keep it on two wheels. I made sure I stayed safe today.”  Challenging for the win was the 3x team of Forrest Minchinton, who finished in second place, crossing the finish line only two minutes behind the 10x team. “It was all technical, even the fast sections,” said Minchinton. You can’t lose your focus for a second or it will bite you. We had a flawless plan and stuck to it, no crashes, and the bike worked great. It all went well. We have our friends and family here pitching in. It is a beautiful thing.” In third place was the 4x team of Jason Alosi, who had a second-place finish at the SCORE San Felipe 250 race. “I had a good crash around mile 60. I was feeling good, getting second off the line. We were gapping third place, but didn’t manage the sun very well and hit the ground hard,” said Alosi. “We busted up the bike pretty good and we had some repairs. We had to make more repairs at mile 203. My crew and family stepped up and made the bike rideable again. A bummer day. Thank you to SCORE for putting this on. At least we got to finish in one piece.” PRO MOTO LIMITED Fernando Beltran and the team on the 180x bike took home a second victory this season, winning the SCORE Pro Moto Limited class. Aside from the hot temperatures, Beltran and the team ran a near-perfect race. “We didn’t have to deal with any major issues. Just had to replace our tires at about mile 70 because of the temperature, but from there on we had no problems at all,” said Beltran. He was assisted by co-riders Larry Serna, Luis Flores, and Mauri Herrera. Finishing in second place were the 2021 Class Champions Christopher Gill and the 100x team of Nathan and Travis Frolich. In third place was the 103x team of Giovanni Aviles from Tijuana, Mexico, with co-riders Rodolfo Patron, Jose Enriquez, and Esteban Patron. PRO MOTO 30 Jano Montoya and the 325x team seem determined to win a SCORE Pro Moto 30 championship this year, after losing it in 2021 to Greg Bardonnex. Montoya and his team of riders, Bryce Stavron, Jesse Canepa, and David Zarate took their second class win of the season to open a wide gap for the championship. “We didn’t have any flat tires or crashes but we did have some fuel issues around race mile 200,” said Montoya. “It took us about 15-20 minutes to fix it. But that is part of racing. My pit crew is awesome. We had all the parts ready to go. I want to thank SCORE for a great race and Ensenada for the hospitality and my sponsors and my riders for doing a great job.” Bardonnex and the 300x team took second place followed by the 332x team of Ramon Davila Minjares. PRO MOTO 40 In most of the age-class divisions, teams repeated their SCORE San Felipe victories to win two in a row, including 2021 SCORE Pro Moto 40 Champion Ryan Liebelt on the 400x bike. He and the team, James Shultz, Jason Trubey, and Steve Tichenor took the win in this race for a commanding championship points lead. “I fell in the silt in the dark this morning and someone fell on top of me. I had to help him pick up his own bike and then my bike,” said Liebelt. “Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful day. We ran the same tires all race. It was a rough course but we figured it out and made it work.” Shultz’s account of the race offered some more insight into how difficult the course was. “We started first off the line using our XL80 pro single Baja Design light and S1 helmet light from Desert Unlimited,” he said. “Ryan started early in the morning, and while it’s tough to race in the dark, much less in blinding dust, he brought the bike to me in first place and around 15th overall. The first 20 miles were fun, twisty, and mostly easy to navigate trails to the top of the Los Pinos summit. From there I just tried to keep the bike on two wheels and just ride at a pace I knew would keep the bike intact. I went side by side with the 332x Pro 30 team for what seemed like 30 minutes but was actually only 3-4 miles. I put my wheel ahead for good and cruised to RM160 to hand the bike off. Happy with my section, I gave Tichenor the bike and he took off.  “Tichenor did a great job and handed Jason Trubey the bike with a 35-40 min lead at Rm215. Trubey hopped on and tackled his 100-mile section and the famous Mike’s loop like a boss, and gave Tichenor back the bike with over an hour lead. The last 100 miles, Ryan would hop back on the bike he built and prepped and would bring it to the finish line.” Finishing in second place was the 432x team of Brad White, who despite some extreme challenges for him and the team, managed to finish the race on the podium. “Towards the end of the race I was getting tired so I had some get-offs,” said White. “We were supposed to have three riders but ended up with only two because Mike Rynhard broke his ankle, so the two of us rode some sections we had not pre-run. That part was interesting. It went better than I thought it would go, though. We pulled together.” Finishing third was the 415x team of Quinn Cody as ROR, but on the bike were Brad Baker, Shawn O’Leary, and the Bontrager brothers Scott and Stuart. PRO MOTO 50-60 The multi-year SCORE Pro Moto Champion Giovanni Spinali will seemingly continue to dominate the SCORE Pro Moto 50 class with another win at this race. Spinali and the 500x team of riders included John Griffin, and Darren Elliot, and 75-year-old veteran and multi-time SCORE Champion Jim O’Neal, who was riding in his 40th SCORE Baja 500. “We were behind for the first two hundred miles but we knew it was a long race. They must have had some repairs to do and we gained the lead,” said Spinali. “It was more technical for the cars but it was a great wide-open course for the motorcycles.” 2020 Class Champion Vance Kennedy might have had a better time than the 500x team, but after penalties added for speed and missing VCPs totaling 30-minutes, set the 522x team into second place. The 649x team of Guy Laycraft only had themselves to beat in the SCORE Pro Moto 60 class, and they rose to the challenge to finish the race and win the class. Assisting Laycraft was Doug Smith and Dave Potts. PRO MOTO IRONMAN Without Juan Carlos Salvatierra dominating this class during the 2022 SCORE Season, it left it wide open for anyone willing to take the challenge. For this race, it was Aaron Richardson from Canada who took the win. Richardson took second place in the SCORE San Felipe 250, and with this win extended his lead toward a class championship. “Everyone told me SCORE Baja 500 was easier but I don’t know about that,” he said. “This was definitely harder than the SCORE San Felipe 250. It was rough. It was a treacherous, torturous course. It was a long day but it was good. It was just what I wanted. Thank you to SCORE for putting this on. This was my first SCORE Baja 500.” In second place was Brandon Wright on the 750x bike, followed by English rider Eddie Meek on the 712x bike.  PRO QUAD CLASSES  2019 SCORE Pro Quad Champion Said Sanchez returned to the SCORE Baja 500 to take his first victory this season. Sanchez had a hard battle with the 7a team of Luis Ernesto Villafana, who won the class at the SCORE San Felipe 250. “It was a perfect race for us,” said Sanchez. “We didn’t have any problems at all. I have to thank my teammates, my family, and my sponsors who did a great job with us in getting this quad ready.”  Villafana finished second despite an incident with one of his co-riders Nicholas Velez. The second-place finish extends Villafana’s chances toward a 2022 Season Championship. “Nicolas had an accident at about race mile 325 that slowed us down a bit, but luckily, he was fine and managed to continue and finish second. I’d like to thank SCORE and our entire team for the work they put on today.”  In Pro Quad Ironman, Faelly Lopez simply had to finish the race, as he was the only entrant in this class. Despite some very difficult challenges that would have had others quit, Lopez pushed on to finish and win the class. “It was a difficult day and the course was tough, but we made it to the finish and that was the goal,” he said. “The course brought a lot of different challenges, especially because we didn’t get to pre-run. We were by ourselves in the class, so I was challenging myself the entire time. I set a time I wanted to hit and went for it. Unfortunately, we had a lot of issues with the quad and that delayed me a lot. The team did a great job and we’re happy about it.” finish line talk - pro Moto Ironman PAUL HART, No. 733x (Fourth Place) “It was good. It just started getting dusty once the trucks caught me. My hands were so sore. I got caught in the pits but I just twisted the throttle and never got passed. It was cool to race someone and not get passed. I am fried.”   RISTO NIEMI, No. 771x (Fifth Place) “It was really tough. The race course was one of the toughest I have ever done. I have been racing here for thirteen years. I was doing really well and I was having a good battle with Eddie Meek (No. 712x)”   ADAM RACHAC, No. 760x (Sixth Place) “I had a rough day but it all worked out. I made it to the finish, that is all that matters. I didn’t give up. I had a whole bunch of reasons to give up, but I didn’t. It feels good.”

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