SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - January 2018

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

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Page 49 of 95

FINDING GOLD The 2017 SCORE World Desert Challenge Ends With A Golden Celebration By Dan Sanchez Photography by Get Some Photo At the very beginning of the 2017 SCORE World Desert Challenge season, everyone was already focusing on the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 that would take place in November. For SCORE International, there were many events that would take place prior to, during and after this monumental event, so the planning began early. As the Tijuana 21st Desert Challenge ended, SCORE fans made plans to attend the golden anniversary of the event, which drew huge crowds gathered in Ensenada to be a part of the special celebrations which included a two-day Contingency event, the unveiling of the Off-Road Motorsports Walk of Fame, the preview of the Dust 2 Glory documentary, huge Monster Energy Papas and Beer pre-race party, and much more. As race day finally approached, the race had 412 entries, the third most entries in its 50-year history. Starting in the city of Ensenada and ending in LaPaz, the 1,134.40-mile course was a challenging peninsula run, in which every competitor in every class wanted to win for the prestige and to add their names to the history books. While most came to be a part of the race and hope to win it, those who battled every race in the SCORE World Desert Championship were looking for so much more. Guys like Apdaly Lopez, who had finished in the top five of every race, needed to finish in the top three for any possibility of a repeat Trophy Truck and Overall Championship. Said Sanchez in the Pro Quad division, along with Elias Hanna in Trophy Truck Spec and Broc Dickerson in Class 10, all had three wins under their belt, securing a championship, but each one of them wanted to finish the year in the most prestigious race in off-road racing history. The race started with the Pro Moto divisions leaving first at the stroke of midnight. As fans looked on, the fight would be against the 1x and 45x teams to take the win and the championship. The 1x team, led by Mark Samuels, saw Colton Udall come back and ride a short first leg off of the starting line. To the cheer of fans who missed him in competition, Udall’s presence sparked the 1x team to ride fast and push hard to deliver one of their best performances all season long. Likewise, the 45x team, who had finished first at the SCORE Baja 500 and the Tijuana Desert Challenge, was led by Francisco Arredondo who knew what was on the line if they didn’t give it all in this race. At the finish line in LaPaz, the 1x team crossed the finish line first, but after accessing penalty points, the 45x team had the faster time, winning the Pro Moto Class, Pro Moto Overall and the 2017 Pro Moto Championship. For Arredondo and his team, it was the best ending to a fantastic season. After the sun was up, the Trophy Trucks pulled onto the starting line with Robby Gordon starting first after qualifying. Apdaly Lopez, who needed to finish in the top three to win the championship, ended up qualifying in 11th place, making an already difficult race even harder to actually win it. Rob MacCachren and the Rockstar Energy team had managed to win the race three times in a row. Hoping for a fourth, he started the race in second place, followed by Baja 500 winner Andy McMillin. After a long race, many racers in front of Lopez broke or had problems that set them back, allowing Lopez to take the lead late on the course and win the 50th overall and his third Trophy Truck division and Overall Championship. It was a stunning and wonderful end for Lopez and the RPM Off-Road racing team, who had Lopez’s dad Juan Carlos as co-driver to make it one of the most memorable moments in the young 22-year old’s racing career. The celebrations continued as more racers were ecstatic to simply finish the race, but there were several upsets. In Class 1, Jon Walker from Guam, owned the day to win the class. The competition between Al Torres and the Wilson team continued with Torres finishing third behind Brad Wilson, while Brian Wilson finished in fourth place, giving him enough points to win the Class 1 Championship. Another upset happened in the Trophy Truck Spec division, where Elias Hanna was dominant all season long, finished 10th after an extremely hard day. John Langley from the Cops racing team finished the season with the big win in LaPaz, but Hanna earned enough points to still win the season class Championship. Likewise, Broc Dickerson in Class 1 was the expected winner, but Cody Reid, who had been chasing Dickerson all season long, finally had his day on the winner’s podium. Dickerson however, finished in eighth place, earning more than enough points to finish the season winning the Class 1 championship. In the Pro Moto Quad division, Said Sanchez won the race and a class championship. Aside from the great victory, Sanchez was the only racer to have a perfect season. Jose Carrasco in the Pro Moto Ironman division was also looking for a perfect season, but he got his motorcycle stuck in a tree, and lost time after leading the race. While Jeff Benrud finished the 50th first, Carrasco finished in third behind Michael Skurkis and ended the season as the Pro Moto Ironman Champion. The Pro UTV racers were relentless and although the terrain was brutal on the vehicles, Dan Fresh from Santa Ana, California, won the Pro UTV N/A class with a spectacular run. Don Whittington finished third to earn the points championship in the class. Brandon Schueler in the PRO UTV F/I class fought hard and managed to win, beating out Marc Burnett who finished in 10th place. This tied both racers for the points championship, but after the SCORE Tie Breaker Policy was invoked, Burnett edged out the championship points win. This capped off a great comeback year for Burnett and put him back on top of a very competitive group of elite racers. With the 2017 season over, racers quickly prepared for the 2018 season which starts with the 32nd SCORE San Felipe 250 April 4-8th. The 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 will again be a grand celebration of a milestone race, that will be held in Ensenada from May 30th through June 3rd. The Tijuana 22nd Desert Challenge will take place September 19-23rd, with the final race of the season being the 51st SCORE Baja 1000 November 14-18. More information on SCORE race schedules, television coverage, and racer information can be found on the website at

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