SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - June 2018

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

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Page 53 of 134

BACK TO BUSINESS Justin Morgan, Mark Samuels, and Justin Jones Took The Pro Moto Overall Win And Show They’re Back On Top By Dan Sanchez Photography Get Some Photo Most SCORE fans don’t always realize how much more difficult it is to take on a race like the Baja 500 on a motorcycle. The fact is, however, guys like Justin Morgan, Mark Samuels and Justin Jones of the 7x team, made it look easy. Morgan and Samuels teamed up at the SCORE San Felipe 250 in April and won the overall Pro Moto division. At the BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, the 7x team added Justin Jones, who was part of the 1x Udall team in 2016 to give each rider about 250-300 miles of riding time. Before the race, Mark Samuels suffered a cut on his hand and only managed to get in a few days of pre-running. “The track was rough and my section was really rocky and technical,” said Samuels. “I was supposed to ride another 50 miles, but Justin Jones stepped up and rode it for me down the beach section and killed it.” Jones was first off the starting line and held on to the lead the entire race. He passed the Honda CRF450x to Samuels who rode to race mile 370 before handing the bike off to Justin Jones, who rode it to race mile 505. Morgan took some time to gather more energy and rode the Honda to the finish line. “After doing the first 240 miles I felt good for the last stage as I had some tacos at Valley T and a couple of Monsters, and I was good to go,” said Morgan. he 7x team crossed the finish line first to win their second straight SCORE Pro Moto Unlimited victory during the 2018 season Samuels and Jones shower with champagne after their first-place finish and Pro Moto Overall win Although the team once again demonstrated their dominant riding skills, the competition never let-up. In this division, any mistake can cost the win, which is exactly what had seemed to happen to Shane Esposito and the 1x team at the race. They had originally planned for Esposito, Max Eddy, and Grant Statley, to run the race but Statley couldn’t make it and the team got help from 17-year-old Tyler Lynn who had never raced in Baja before. “I have only met him two times since we have been here and we put him down there in the desert section,” said Esposito. “This was the first time he has ever been here, and he really did great for us.” During the coastal section, Max Eddy went down hard but was unhurt. Nevertheless, it cost the team some valuable time that led to them taking second place during the race, but still keeping them close to winning a championship, if they continue to push as hard as they have been this season. “I rode from race mile 270 to 470 and went down hard on the coast,” said Eddy. “I have been pushing my luck down here for a long time and it finally bit me, but it wasn’t too bad. We came here to win and running second is disappointing, but I guess the best part of it all is that we are all here and healthy.” Shane Esposito and the 1x team finished second and told Rat Sult at the finish line some of the difficulties the team faced during this race Finishing in third place within the Pro Moto Unlimited class was the 3x team of Garret Poucher, Michel Valenzuela, and Skyler Howes. The team found the course challenging and changing with pre-runs prior to the race, but still managed to hold off other competitors for the third-place finish. “The race course always changes over the last few days before the race and the lines were in different places,” said Poucher. “The rocks were in different spots and the silt was both deeper and wider, so we came into the sections at race speed with a pre-run mindset because we really didn’t know what to expect.” Missing from the top three finishers at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 was the 66x team of Santiago Creel. The 66x team finished third at the SCORE San Felipe 250, but the team ended up in fifth place behind the 19x team of Scott Meyers. Nevertheless, the competition remains fierce in the Pro Moto Unlimited class and with only two more races left in the SCORE World Desert Championship, it’s still anyone’s guess as to which team will take home a 2018 championship in this division.SJ Garret Poucher (left) and the 3x team consisting of Michel Valenzuela (right) and Skyler Howes finished third in Pro Moto Unlimited

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