SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - January 2018

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

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Page 64 of 95

DEDICATION With strength, endurance, and a determination to never quit, Elias Hanna wins the SCORE Trophy Truck Spec Championship By Dan Sanchez Photography by Get Some Photo Having a near perfect season, Elias Hanna and HN Motorsports team made it look easy, but they faced and overcame tremendous challenges at every SCORE race. Culminating at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, Hanna and the team overcame everything that Baja threw at them. While they finished the race in 10th place, they still earned enough points to complete their goal of winning a Trophy Truck Spec championship. SCORE Journal: What does winning the 2017 SCORE Trophy Truck Spec championship mean to you at this point in your career? Elias Hanna: It’s been a dream come true. It Took me two years to come back and win my fifth SCORE championship. My team and I worked so hard to get to the top. We are the smallest team in our class fighting against first-class teams and drivers. It feels awesome being the first among 40 teams racing this year. SJ: At the start of the 2017 season, you came out strong with a win in San Felipe, the SCORE Baja 500, and the TJ Desert Challenge. How did you manage to keep that momentum throughout most of the season? Hanna: I think it was a result of two years working on the set-up of my truck and the experience from battling for the top position over the past years. Having bad luck, however, was my motivation for the 2017 season. We had a plan and it was to focus on winning. We were here to win and give it all at each event, making our sponsors, fans, and family happy in the process. SJ: What did you do differently this year than in other seasons? What do you attribute your dominance of the TT Spec class? Hanna: It all goes out to my team. It’s a full package. Without them, championships don’t come easy or at all. That combined with family support and long hours working hard at the shop. Sometimes I realize that we spend more time there than other places, and it becomes my home. Dedication is a huge factor. I think racing 24/7 and being successful at what I do. I want to make the people I love, proud of what I work so hard to achieve. Each year we do better and make sure we don’t look back for anything, and just focus on winning races and championships. A huge factor this year that helped me be solid and make better decisions, came from a good friend of mine Mr. Roy Dehban (ProAm). He helped me and guided me towards getting better equipment and the best parts to prevent vehicle failures. SJ: At the SCORE Baja 1000, you finished in 10th place, but still won the championship? What happened during the race? Hanna: I have four SCORE Baja 1000 wins but this one, in particular, was the 50th anniversary and I came up to this event not only leading my class but leading the class points in the series. So there were lots of emotions on the line, but keeping it real, I needed the championship. I let two get away from me in the past and I was not giving this one away! We knew running the race ironman was going to be a challenge. I was looking forward to that and I was in the best shape, ready to make it happen. But you never know what Baja has in store. We started on the pole position, which was a perfect way for me to set the pace and drive a smart fast race. I knew I had top drivers and teams behind me with the same vision of winning the 50th. We started passing one by one my Trophy Truck “Azteca” was on rails, but it all didn’t go as planned. By RM45 I lost the air to my helmet when the Parker Pumper got toasted. It was the first challenge of the race. I’m in a cloud of dust passing Class 1 and Class 10 vehicles. By the time we get to RM200, we had a five-minute lead and were running strongly towards Puertositos road with Azteca running smooth. By night the fog was the second challenge and my eyes were burning. We were still in the lead but the competition was coming up strong. At RM318 I took a wrong turn to a slower line on the wash which made us lose the lead to the COPS team. Running three minutes behind, I took the lead back by RM360. This section, Cuerzo, was tight with zero tolerance for a mistake. We came out to the Bahia LA Hwy physically in first place by RM401, then we lost the lead going into my second BFGoodrich Pit 2. I composed myself, cleaned my eyes, and took off to the fastest section which wasn’t the way we pre-ran it. We ended up racing at half the speed because of the dust and fog. By RM 460, we lost the brakes on an uphill section and were still losing time to our competition. My co-pilot jumped out and did fast work we got the brakes fixed and returned to the race running back strong. By RM470 Baja caught us big-time breaking a front driver side spindle on a narrow wash stopped us. Our Chase 2 team came to help and my brother Omar got us spares and we continued, but we were at the back of the pack. We were fighting the worst fog I have ever seen and were surprised by silt beds not marked on our GPS. With the amount of traffic on the course, we made it to our main pitstop at RM605. I got out to clean myself, got some food and get clean oxygen to continue a solid to battle the remaining 529 miles of the race. By that time I knew the top three Trophy Truck Spec vehicles were out of my range but still had more to pass. At that point, I decided to change my logistics and changed from winning the race to winning the championship. I passed other competitors one by one. I was still feeling strong it had been 25-hours of driving. I got to the final pitstop in Santa Rita, BFGoodrich pit at RM1,013. It was still 120miles of the toughest challenge. We pull out a clean drive to the finish and was happy to finish the challenge. Now I can proudly say that I “ironmanned” the 50th BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000 anniversary race! SJ: Tell us a little about your winning Trophy Truck Spec vehicle? Hanna: Azteca was built in the beginning of 2015 by a good friend and fabricator Miguel Padilla (PADMUR), with ideas and design that we got from years of research. For the past two years, Azteca has been worked on and prepared by my team at HN Motorsports. We do full fabrication and development of new parts for better performance. SJ: Who were some of your biggest competition in the class this year? Hanna: This class is getting better each year and new drivers and teams are becoming challenges. This year we dominated the class having good battles against the COPS team. They had multiple professional drivers in each race. The Mason’s trucks were also tough as they were being driven by good teams. In all, there were 40 teams this season, with mostly all good drivers battling for the win. We might be the smallest teams out there, but we will take you for a ride! SJ: How have some of your sponsors helped you throughout the season and were they a factor in you winning the championship? Hanna: Sponsors are family they take care of me and I repay the favor by winning and putting their names on the top of the box. These include: HN Motorsports, Monster Energy, Lucas Oil, BFGoodrich Tires, Jackson Motorsports, Method Race Wheels, Fox Racing Shox, Howe Performance, KC Hilites, CMB Motorsports, Alfonso’s Pizza, Culhane Transmission, Driveshaft Pro, ORW, Estero Beach Hotel, Magnaflow, Powder 1Inc., ProAm, FK Rod Ends, and CBF. SJ: Aside from winning, the Trophy Truck Spec championship, what were some of the best moments you and your team had this season? Hanna: The best moment for all of us was the battle for the lead at the SCOR San Felipe 250, racing against the Cops team driver Luke Johnson. From the very start to the halfway point in Borrego, we were almost bumper to bumper. We were driving with almost zero visibility through the most part at the fastest speeds I ever drove inside a cloud of dust. My Co-pilot Rahuel Ramirez was calling notes like a champ, giving me the confidence to not take my foot off the throttle! SJ: The Mexican racers are carving a place in SCORE and off-road racing history, especially this 2017 Season. What does this championship mean to fans and other racers from Mexico? Hanna: This is what we call “FUERZA MEXICANA” Mexican force. We have the best fans in the world. They will be out there in the middle of nowhere, day and night, supporting our game. I love my fans and this is a big part of my love for this sport. That’s why I try to give them a show anytime I can. The #200 stays in Mexico and is for Ensenada! SJ: What can we expect from you during the 2018 SCORE racing season? Hanna: We are proud to announce our partnership with Monster Energy! Fans can expect a great season of racing, battles, and excitement. Be ready because I’m coming back for 2018 stronger and faster!

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