In a scene somewhat reminiscent of what happened two years ago, a Johnny Campbell Racing Honda team got to the finish line first and enjoyed the immediate accolades afforded to winners of the Tecate/SCORE Baja 500 – only to learn the next morning that they’d been assessed time penalties that dropped them in the standings. That team consisted of Quinn Cody and Kendall Norman, and they suffered a psychological blow, if nothing else.
This time, however, they hit all of SCORE’s 36 “virtual check points” without fail, never sped in any of the five 60 mph zones and found themselves waking up the morning after the race as the overall winners, having gone to bed believing they’d finished 30 seconds behind the JCR Honda “B” team of David Kamo and Colton Udall.
Udall and Norman finished side by side on Ensenada’s Boulevard Costero just before 3 p.m. on June 4; since Norman was second off the line at 6:00:30 and Udall started third, 30 seconds later, that gave the 0X-numbered CRF450X the unofficial Class 22 (Open Pro) and overall victory.
But the post-race examination of the tracking devices each vehicle bears showed some discrepancies and speed violations for the Kamo/Udall team and SCORE assessed them a penalty of 10 minutes, dropping them from first to second overall – a result that still keeps them atop the points chase with only the season finale Baja 1000 remaining.
Cody and Norman’s official time for the 455 miles of city streets, sand washes, dry lake beds, super-technical rock hills and fast two-track was eight hours, 47 minutes and seven seconds with Kamo/Udall’s time 8:57:07. Both times beat that of the first four-wheeled vehicle – 9:04:52 – which Bryce Menzies posted in his Ford F-150 Trophy truck. The privateer Bonanza Plumbing KTM 450 SX-F of Brandon Prieto and Ivan Ramirez took third bike overall in 9:25:16 after a crash by Prieto.
Class 30 (30 years and older) winners Steve Garnett/Brian Pinard/Mike Johnson took fourth overall bike in 9:56:05 with class runners-up David Fry/Jim O’Neal/Francisco Septien/Jason Trubey fifth in 10:13:25.
Brett Helm/Jeff Kaplan/Jeff Sheets/Ron Wilson took sixth overall bike and the Class 40 (40 years and older) win followed by Class 21 (450cc and under) winners Matt Eddy/Max Eddy, Jr./Bill Gilbert/Trevor Insley, Class 21 runners-up Cory Evenson/Adam Neuwirth/Mark Samuels, third in Class 21 Phil Cowan/Brody Kunz/Chris Parr and Class 22’s Francisco Arredondo/Ricky Brabec/Connor Penhall rounded out the top 10 overall motorcycles.
After getting off to a relatively slow start, Norman recalled telling himself, ” ‘I’m gonna be patient and let things come to me,’ and that’s pretty much what happened. Around 125 miles in – pit three – is where I really felt good.”
By that time, he was the physical leader and gave the Lucas Oil/Truth MX/Dunlop-backed 1X bike to Cody for his stint from about mile 211 at the Borrego pit to mile 411 just west of Ojos Negros. Confident that he had a comfortable lead, Cody was unaware that Udall was actually making up time and the “B” team’s Rider of Record managed to chase him down and make the pass around mile 380 after getting off Highway 1 in Uruapan.
Udall dusted Cody out all the way to the next pit at mile 411 where Norman got back on the bike and, somewhat rested, attacked the remaining 44 miles, finally getting alongside his JCR Honda teammate as they hit the final few turns in the streets of Ensenada.
“I knew once Kendall got back on the bike, he was coming!” Udall said – and he called it correctly. “I didn’t even know he was there. I [first realized] he was there when he threw a wheelie up coming into the finish and his front tire was [to the] right [of my head]–I was like, whoa, there he is!”
The two crossed the finish line side-by-side, so initial calculations put Kamo/Udall ahead by 30 seconds. But that was before the Competition Review Board examined the tracking data and penalized the team, making Cody/Norman the official victors the next morning.