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Page 72 of 117

THE EARLY RISERS Moto Classes Rise To The Dawn And The Challenge Of Beating BaJa By Dan Sanchez, Guilherme Torres, Paul Hanson, Isaac Flores, and Cindy Clark Photos by Get Some Photo On the early morning start of the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels, a line nearly 1/8-mile-long of moto and quad racers prepare themselves for the long 393.8-mile journey ahead of them. The dark is only illuminated by the large SCORE LED board that counts down the seconds for racers to begin the race off the Boulevard Costero, in front of the Riveria Pacifico Cultural Center in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. Their minds are all focused on getting to their next stop along the course in good time, avoiding the rocks, deep silt, ruts, and other competitors that may prevent them from getting there in the fastest time possible. At the front of the line were seven Pro Moto Unlimited teams made up of some of the fastest riders in all of desert racing. Despite the exceptional riding talent and experience in this class, everyone was looking to beat the 10x team of Juan Carlos Salvatierra. The 10x team had won every SCORE race prior to the SCORE Baja 400 and teams like the 3x of Forrest Minchinton were wanting to win the race and get the first starting position ahead of the 10x team for the SCORE Baja 1000. “We came in second to the 10x team at the SCORE Baja 500 and we want to try and give them a run for their money in this race,” said Minchinton before the start. As the racers entered the course, many would soon find out that the race was not going to go as smoothly as they would have expected. First off the start was Drew Watson of the 19x team, followed by 32x Ignacio Laviosa, 38x Ivan Delgadillo, 3x Forrest Minchinton, 10x Juan Carlos Salvatierra, 4x Jason Alosi, and 20x Miguel Peña. Along the first sections of the course, the 10x team had issues with their bike that took them 30-minutes to correct before heading back on the course. By then, the lead has switched several times with the 38x team leading the race for a while until they too encountered problems with their bike. “We were in the lead around race mile 70, but then we cooked (overheated) our brakes, said Ivan Delgadillo. “By the time we got to race mile 140, we had no brakes at all and we went off a cliff. Thank God everything was okay. I got it to race mile 290 in third place and we did a brake swap. I really wanted to get to the finish.” In the meantime, the Salvatierra 10x team had passed 15 of the motorcycle racers on the course that had overtaken them when they were down. Mid-way through the course, the 10x team had taken the lead and kept it all the way to the finish to win the race in with a time of 8:27:47. Finishing second was the 38x team of Delgadillo with a time of 9:12:15, followed by the 32x team of Laviosa. “We had a little accident with one of the riders at around race mile 50,” said Delgadillo. We did a good job in switching riders, but just 30 miles later we had another issue and we could fix it in no time. And at mile 308, our driver got lost for a little while.” PRO MOTO 30 The 325x team of Jano Montoya was almost as fast as the 10x Salvatierra team, finishing the race in 8:39:56 (10x was 8:27:47). Montoya continued his reign in the class by winning the first three of the four races in the 2022 SCORE Season and is now in a good position to start the SCORE Baja 1000. “This is incredible to finish in first place in the class,” said Montoya. When the hurricane came through Baja, we were at first nervous about the course, but it turned out really good. My section through Valley Trinidad and km77 was incredible. It was so much fun. It was a good course.” Challenging Montoya all season was the 2021 SCORE Pro Moto Champion Greg Bardonnex and the 300x team. “We basically got out-gunned a little bit today,” said Bardonnex. “We’ve been going back and forth with Jano Montoya, where last year he finished second in every race, and now it’s our turn. Overall, we’re happy we had a good race without any mistakes for the most part and glad everyone made it back safely. We’re ready for the SCORE Baja 1000 and hopefully, take back the first-place win.” Finishing third in class was the 319x team of David Smith, followed by the 302x team of Ignacio Laviosa. Should Montoya finish the SCORE Baja 1000 with a fourth win, it would make a perfect season for them and bring back the class championship crown for the 2022 season. PRO MOTO LIMITED Fernando Beltran and the 180x team from Mexico also continued their winning streak in the SCORE Pro Moto Limited class. The team of five riders survived the tough course and had a few mishaps, but made it to the finish line ahead of six other teams competing in the class. “It was a very technical course, but it was also a lot of fun,” said co-rider Luis Flores, who rode the bike to the finish. “The bike did well, but we had a few crashes along the course, but we still kept pushing. Now we’ll start preparing for the SCORE Baja 1000.” With only one race left to finish this season, Beltran simply needs to finish the SCORE Baja 1000 to win the SCORE Pro Moto Limited Championship. In their first race of the season, the 102x team of Scott Borden from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, finished in second place to have a great start to the SCORE Baja 1000 and improve their chances of winning in that race. Finishing third in class, was the 103x team of Giovanni Ailes from Tijuana, Mexico. In fourth was the 111x team of Carlos Castillo of Mexicali, Mexico. PRO MOTO 40 THE 2021 SCORE Pro Moto 40 Champion, Ryan Liebelt, was another moto racer who has continued to have a perfect 2022 season so far. With another win in this race, he and the 400x team simply have to finish the 55th SCORE Baja 1000 to take a back-to-back class championship. “The race went good and I don’t think anybody went down,” said Liebelt. “The bike stayed up all day. Other than the mist and fog this morning, it was a good race. I battled all day with Pro Quad 7A (Luis Ernesto Villafana) for basically the last two hundred miles. We were back and forth. It was fun.” Alirio Amado and the 441x team finished second in class, followed by the 479x team of Luis Esquivel from Tijuana, Mexico. PRO MOTO 50 One of the best SCORE Pro Moto battles all season has been between the 500x team of Giovanni Spinali and the 522x team of Vance Kennedy. Both championship teams have been trading wins back and forth all season with Kennedy winning the SCORE San Felipe 250 and finishing second at the SCORE Baja 500. Spinali finished second in the SCORE San Felipe 250 but won the SCORE Baja 500. In this race, Spinali came out on top again to take a lead in points for the class championship, but should Kennedy win at the SCORE Baja 1000, the 522x team could retake the title once again. “Everything was good out there and we had a pretty clean run,” said co-rider Troy Pearce. “It got a little bit rough on the second part of my section, and it was a lot different than pre-running. It was pretty rocky. I had a good run–no crashes– kept the bike moving forward and gave the bike off to Giovanni.” PRO MOTO IRONMAN Multi-time SCORE Pro Moto 30 Champion Francisco Septien had also been racing in SCORE Pro Moto Ironman in previous seasons. During the 2022 SCORE Season, he has not been rider of record for any races until this 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels. He entered the SCORE Pro Moto Ironman with the 730x Honda CRF450X and among eight other tough competitors and managed to finish first only five minutes ahead of second-place finisher Brandon Wright in the 750x Husqvarna FE501. Finishing third in class was the Bolivian rider Fabricio Fuentes on the 785x KTM 450SX-F. Septien’s win didn’t upset the class points leaders looking for a championship, however, as Aaron Richardson in the 739x bike and Wright on the 750x bike were tied for the lead going into this race. With Wright’s second-place finish, he leads in points towards the championship but a win at the SCORE Baja 1000 by Richardson, who finished third in class this race, could take away that effort. PRO QUAD Luis Ernesto Villafana of Mexicali, Mexico has finished on the podium in every race this season. His 7a team on their Honda TRX450R has also been consistently flying by Pro Moto competitors on the course, and at the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels, it was no different. The 7a team was the first Pro Quad team to finish the race and were 19th Overall, and third in the Pro Moto and Quad classes behind the 10x Salvatierra team and the Montoya 325x team. “It was a very interesting race that was fast and technical at the same time,” said co-rider Jose Luis Mesa Velez. “We thought there would be more dust, but there wasn’t as much as we expected, so it was faster than we imagined. It was a very demanding course and we’re happy we made it to the finish.” Finishing second in class was the 5a team of Steven Lopez from Juarez, Mexico. They were followed by the 31a team of Hector Chavez from Tecate, Mexico, who finished in third place. Villafana and the 7a team are one race away from the SCORE Pro Quad championship and with this win stretching their lead in points towards that goal. PRO QUAD IRONMAN At the start of the SCORE 2022 season, Puerto Rico’s Faelly Lopez was the only competitor to take on the SCORE Pro Quad Ironman class. Completing every race so far, he’s become the pride of the country and loved by both American and Mexican SCORE fans alike. He continues his perfect season with his latest win in the 3rd SCORE Baja 400 Presented by VP Racing Fuels, riding his 83a Honda TRX450R to another finish with a time of 12;40;38. “It was a very good course, technical, with a lot of rocks,” said Lopez. “I didn’t have any kind of issues and was even able to complete the race in good time, which was even better than I thought it would be. I would like to thank our chase team and everyone that worked hard to get the quad ready.” SPORTSMAN CLASSES The SCORE Sportsman M/C class began with nine teams, but the rugged course proved to be very difficult for most of them. Only four teams finished the race this time around with the 297x team of Juan Tamayo of Ensenada, Mexico finishing first with teammates Luis Aguilar, Uriel Diaz, Joel Verdugco, and Omar Rosas. In second place was the 230x team of Julio Cesar de Peña made up of co-riders Christian Ramirez, Jesus Salas, Elmer Silvestre, and Adan Garcia. In third place was the 217x team of Dustin Davis of Mesa, Arizona, who rode solo. In Sportsman Quad, a total of six teams started the race but only half finished. Dario Rabago on the 103a quad finished first in class followed by the 105a team of Francisco Valle, and the 111a team of Fidel Gonzales who finished third. SJ

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