SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - January 2018

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

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Page 81 of 95

In For The Long Haul Jose Armando Carrasco Is the 2017 SCORE Pro Moto Ironman Champion By Stephen Romero Photos by Get Some Photo The PRO Moto Ironman class is one of the most challenging groups in the SCORE World Desert Racing Championship series. Riders race alone at top speed across all types of terrain without the benefit of a roll cage or switching off to ride sections of the race. Riding solo, Ironman class riders are exposed to the changing weather conditions with no escape from the thunderous rain storms, blowing winds, brutal silt beds, dust, and the blistering sun of Baja. Finishing an Ironman in Baja on a motorcycle takes a special person who can withstand the punishment, and no matter if that person finished first or last, it is an accomplishment worthy of recognition. Winning the year-end SCORE PRO Moto Class Championship, however, is another feat all together. Jose Armando Carrasco, 27, knows the challenge of riding solo. He’s been chasing the dream of taking the Pro Moto Ironman class championship for many years, and 2017 became his year to celebrate. “Winning the SCORE PRO Moto Ironman Class Championship was not only a dream come true for me, but it was also an incredible journey that made me realize that nothing is impossible if you really want something and set your mind to do it,” said Carrasco. “This was definitely the biggest highlight in my career as a professional off-road racer, and this championship only got me fired up to want more.” Carrasco’s class championship also had his countrymen in Mexico exhilarated, as they are beginning to see more Mexican racers competing and winning at the higher levels of SCORE racing. “I felt very fortunate to be able to represent Mexico in a class, and race with such prestige,” said Carrasco. “I've had tremendous support from all my friends and fans, and it feels amazing to see people cheering for you at every race. This championship made me grow as a person and racer, giving me much more experience to take on greater challenges. I’m glad to see more Mexicans that are willing to take on a challenge like this one, and to realize that we have a lot of talented Mexican competitors entering SCORE racing as well.” What makes Carrasco’s win on his Suzuki RMX 450Z so special was the way he dominated the season early, leading up to the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000. Carrasco piled on the points early with a first place finish at the SCORE San Felipe 250, then taking another first place finish at the SCORE Baja 500. He had a giant points lead going in the SCORE Tijuana Desert Challenge, and again finished the race in first place, giving him 215 YTD points, more than twice as many points as his closest rival. “I felt very prepared and confident going in to this series as a Pro Moto Ironman,” said Carrasco. “After the SCORE San Felipe 250 I realized that I was surrounded with the right team and equipment to take on the challenge and as the season unveiled itself, I realized that I was on the right track. I really wanted to take home the championship with the perfect season.” But things don’t always turnout as expected at Baja. At the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, the course was demanding for everyone, let alone a single motorcycle racer in the middle of the desert. “We started at midnight and I had a very nice light setup thanks to Niterider, that was lighting my way perfectly fine until around mile 70 where the dusty roads made me get a tiny bit off track and caused my helmet light cable to snap off after hitting a branch,” said Carrasco. That small error would cost him a 15 minute delay. But he managed to regain the lead and felt very strong and healthy until he reached the Bay of LA. Here Carrasco encountered a somewhat easy part of the track where there was a long straight, until it suddenly wasn’t. “About race mile marker 450 on a technical hill called La Herradura,(the horse-shoe)I started to fall asleep and was struggling to keep my eyes open,” said Carrasco. “Who would’ve thought with all the adrenaline and in a technical section my body needed to rest! It was like a fight against myself because obviously I didn’t want to close my eyes, especially because on my right side there was a very high cliff that if you peeked down it looked like rocks, cactus, a creek, and bushes, it was only missing the alligators.” “So, there I was and I ended up closing my eyes for what only seemed like a second. When I opened them, I hit a rock and I saw my bike go out from under my legs. I tried to grab onto anything to avoid falling.” Carrasco looked at the gnarly cliff and couldn’t focus on what happened to his bike. Then he looked up and there it was hanging six feet in the air from a tree. He said it looked like a Christmas ornament. “I thought it was the end of my race. There was no one around and before calling on the satellite phone to have my crew come and get me, I rested for what I thought was five-minutes, and the next thing I knew I felt a tap on my shoulder and this Mexican guy was yelling at me. ‘Orale, súbete a la moto,”(come on, get on your bike!). Another 10 people with him were asking what was I waiting for as my bike was already on the course standing up and running. In a very confused way I yelled thank you and kept going. At that moment I knew that I had to make it all the way and there was no backing out.” Carrasco made it to his pit stop and took his first 30 minute nap as his crew made sure the bike was okay. After that he had no problems until race marker 725. “After I had left San Juanico the fog was really bad and there was a paved section and as soon as I got to the end of it I realized that I had lost both of the bolts that hold the caliper together and some friendly people helped me get it fixed in no more than 20 minutes,” said Carrasco. “Then I found out that five-miles later it would all go wrong again. After trying to fix it for half an hour, I decided to continue without any brakes because I had already been warned that the first ruts were a couple hours behind. I manage to go for a little over 50 miles without front brakes before I made it to another pit and we changed the caliper.” Carrasco lost 45 minutes at the pit. He decided to take a second nap at Insurgentes as the faster Trophy Trucks had started to catch up. He was getting ready to battle the infamous whoops. “As I saw the sunrise for the second time there was only 200 miles left and it felt like I had just gotten on the bike,” said Carrasco. “I sprinted to the finish line gaining another position and only having one close call with a Trophy Truck that was not even in the fight for a win anymore, and knocked me down. All and all, I crossed the finish line third in the toughest off-road race in the world and was very happy to have taken home the SCORE Pro Moto Ironman Class Championship. I have to give credit to the competition that definitely made it a fun race, especially Jeff Benrud because the two of us kept dicing back and forth until the halfway point.” Carrasco’s official points standing after finishing the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 was 344. His closest competitor ended the season with 139 official points. “I definitely think that I have matured as a racer,” said Carrasco. “Every time you enter a race, it doesn’t matter if you end up on the top step of the podium, or if you couldn’t cross the finish line. You can always learn from it and come back stronger. This was definitely a season like no other for me and I can easily say that a lot has changed for the good.” Carrasco admitted, however, that he’s got his work cut out for him in 2018 and beyond. Younger riders are chasing their dreams too. But he’s prepared for the challenge. “This was definitely a 100-percent team effort,” said Carrasco. “If it wasn’t for the great group of people that were involved in my team, this would not have worked out the way I intended. My wife Kylie and my dad KC, who was team captain, supported me throughout the season. They made sure I was doing what I was supposed to in order to accomplish what we did. But this was truly done with help from all my teammates, friends, family, and sponsors that believed in me. The biggest inspiration I had was my desire to make my dreams come true and to show everyone that thinks that this goal is far from their current reality that if you dream big you can accomplish big things.”

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