SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal Issue - Mar 2017

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

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Page 79 of 91

RELENTLESS Alonso Lopez And His Team Never Gave Up During The 2016 Season And Came Up With The Pro UTV Overall And NA Class Championship By Dan Sanchez Photos by Get Some Photo One of the most difficult things to accomplish in SCORE Baja racing is simply surviving. Vehicle breakdowns, bottlenecks on the course, accidents, heat exhaustion, and more are all road blocks to coming in first at the finish. Yet, teams like Alonso Lopez have demonstrated that despite facing all of these situations and more, quitting is never an answer. “We are a small relentless team that takes racing seriously,” said Alonso Lopez, 2016 UTV Overall Point, and NA Class Champion. “We never give up and prepare to win every race we compete in. We prepare the car, take spare parts, carry more parts in our chase trucks, handle the logistics, communications, and we prepare physically as well.” That preparation and relentless spirit gave Lopez the advantage during the SCORE 2016 racing season with a well modified and tested older model Polaris RZR 1000. When SCORE split the UTV classes into Forced Induction and Normally Aspirated, Lopez had already poured lots of time and money into the RZR 1000. “When Glazzkraft Industries built our #1949 RZR 1000 early in 2015, there were no turbo cars at that time. Later that year in the fall, Polaris unveiled their Turbo motor. For us, it was hard to just let go that build, and start a new turbo car. So we decided to stick on to the NA class for 2016, and see how the season developed,” said Lopez. Hard Hitting In San Felipe At the SCORE San Felipe 250, Lopez and his team were doing well and actually catching up to two turbo cars who were leading the pack. “We were just mere minutes behind leaders Marc Burnett and Jason Murray (both turbo cars), and had a big lead over all other UTVs, regardless of being NA or FI,” said Lopez. “Before the Matomi Wash, car #1209 came up from behind and hit us hard, breaking the rear bumper, and chassis. The transmission support shifted to the right and one axle started to move in and out. The seal gave up and we lost oil which fried the transmission. We lost precious time putting a new transmission on the car, but we were able to finish in third place. We could have easily won that one the way the race was developing.” Almost A No Show At The Baja 500 Despite the third place finish, Lopez and his team rallied at the SCORE Baja 500 in hopes they could take home the first place finish there. Unfortunately, bad luck struck the team while pre-running in a different vehicle. Electrical and fuel issues prevented them from pre-running the course so they concentrated on the race car. Working with King Shocks to make adjustments to handle the “whoops” at San Matias, the team had a front differential bearing seize that destroyed the differential and bent the driveline. After installing a spare differential, the team stripped the driveline of the pre-runner and made it to the starting line on race day. The SCORE Baja 500 would end up being the best race of the season for Lopez. “We have been pursuing that first place finish for quite a while,” said Lopez. “It felt so sweet to win the SCORE Baja 500 in our class, and we won it on a day that we thought we wouldn't make it to the race! We only got two hours of sleep before the race and made it without 4WD all day. It was definitely a sweet win!” With their luck seemingly turning their way at that point, Lopez’s 2016 season offered the opportunity for a class championship. “At that point, we thought we had a real chance to win the Pro UTV NA class championship, but we understood that there were still two races to go and that we needed to get good results on both to secure it.” Mistakes At Rosarito Beach At the third race of the 2016 SCORE season, Lopez had made all the changes and repairs to the vehicle and was confident they could keep their first-place momentum at the SCORE Rosarito Beach Desert Challenge. This was home base for Lopes and his team, making them feel confident they would win there. “Glazzkraft Industries (our cars builder) is in Rosarito. My family lives there also, so that race felt like home. We pre-ran the 32-mile course over and over and we felt confident we could win it.” Unfortunately, Lopez made some mistakes that cost them the first place position but nonetheless ended up with a respectable second place win. “On day one, I made two big mistakes that made us loose over 16 minutes of time that made the difference against the first place finisher that day, Greg Scott Row,” said Lopez. “On day two we pushed it hard, but couldn't make up the lost time the day before, ending the race in second place.” Big Season Finish At Baja 1000 With a class championship within reach, the Lopez team prepared for the 49th SCORE Baja 1000 race. The Glazzkraft Polaris performed well, but a traffic jam ended their chance for a first place victory, but not an overall points championship. ”At RM50, we were behind a Class 16 car that didn't move for us to pass, even after staying on his tail for quite a bit,” said Lopez. “We got desperate and between the dust, sunshine, trees and poor visibility we tried to pass and ended up in a 10-foot ditch. We broke a bunch of parts, and lost more than three hours before we were able to continue the race.” Undaunted, Alonzo and his team realized what was at stake and were relentless to finish in a position that would help them secure a class championship. “We pushed hard after that to catch up with the leaders,” said Lopez. “We ended up 14 minutes behind the third place finisher. We would have loved to have been on the podium at every race on the year, but we took that fourth-place position and ended up wrapping the season with a class championship in hand.” A Forced Move Lopez proved that a race team doesn’t have to run the newest vehicles to win in Baja. Ultimately, all they needed was a relentless pursuit to finish and the experience to make it happen, in order to win a class championship. Nevertheless, Lopez is retiring the 2016 car and has almost finished completing their new vehicle. “After hearing the results that we won the SCORE Pro UTV NA Class, and also winning the Pro UTV Overall Points Championship, it feels like it was time to move to the Turbo (SCORE Pro UTV FI) class, where all of the heavy hitters are already,” said Lopez. “This year, Glazzkraft Industries is building our third generation race car, a new turbocharged car that we are planning to unveil in March. But if we feel that we wouldn't have time to test the car before the race, we might just wait to unveil it until the SCORE San Felipe 250,” said Lopez. “It’s a great UTV with the best components on it, and with Glazzkraft’s magic touch that they give to every one of the cars they build. Our #1949 Polaris RZR 1000 race car that won the 2016 championship will happily continue competing in China, in a rally series similar to Dakar, and will continue be a great exposure platform for our sponsors.” With the momentum of a great SCORE race season behind them, Lopez is anxious to do battle with his new UTV during the 2017 season. A win at the first race of the 2017 season, the SCORE San Felipe 250, can definitely propel Lopez and his team to another great year in racing and will definitely put him as one of the drivers to watch out for among a group of highly-skilled competitors that continue to drive these vehicles beyond their limits, and win. SJ

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