Successfully defending their overall motorcycle and Class 22 Championship, Robby Bell (pictured) and Kendall Norman, with help from new teammate Steve Hengeveld, rode a Honda CRF450X to victory at the 39th Tecate SCORE Baja 500, June 2. The Bell/Norman/Hengeveld team covered the rugged course in eight hours, 51 minutes and 11 seconds, averaging 47.92 mph.
Hengeveld now has seven class wins and six overall titles in the Baja 500.
The Bell/Norman duo also won this year’s SCORE motorcycle season opener in March at the Tecate SCORE Baja 250 to remain unbeaten in the 2007 SCORE Desert Series.
“It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it,” Bell said at the finish line. “The course was really rough and demanding, but it was a good test. We had a flat tire right early on, and I had to ride it on out for about 14 miles until we got it changed and, from there on out, it was just a smooth race.
“Kendall [Norman] rode the second section really well over Mike’s [Sky Ranch], passed the KTM back, and then Steve [Hengeveld] rode awesome on the coast, and I just got to cruise it in to the finish for about the final 30 miles,” Bell said. “I took over right around Rancho San Antonio. Flat tire was it – other than that, it very really smooth and a lot of fun for us.”
Second overall among the motorcycles and in Class 22 was the Red Bull/KTM team of Chris Blais, David Pearson and Cyril Despres, who rode the new KTM 690 that arrived from Europe just two days before the race, to finish 27 minutes and 28 seconds behind the Honda factory team. It was the first Baja race for both Pearson and the Frenchman, Despres.
Jim O’Neal became the first rider to win three classes in two different years in the Baja 500, as he led separate teams to victory in both Class 30 (motorcycle riders over 30 years old) and Class 50 (motorcycle riders over 50 years old). With his double victories, Class 30, on a Honda CRF450X, and Class 50, on Honda XR650R, O’Neal has earned 10 class wins in this race in the last seven years, the longest consecutive race streak of any racer in this event.
In Class 30, O’Neal’s teammates, which also placed them third overall among motorcycles, were Scott Myers,, Steve Garnett and Taber Murphy. Doug Heil, Mike Sixberry, Rick Gill and Charlie Marshall teamed with O’Neal in Class 50.
Among the motorcycle classes, other winners included the Class 40 team made up of Brett Helm, Jon Ortner, Jeff Kaplan, Craig Adams and Bob Johnson, aboard a Honda CRF450X. In Class 60, John Carmona teamed up with Paul Lussier to take the win on a KTM EXC 525. In Class 20 (125/250F) Ryan Penhall and Chad Black took the win on a Honda CRF250X.
In Class 21 (126cc-250cc), Carlos Casa and Noe Ibarra rode a Honda CRF450X to victory, finishing a few minutes ahead of the KTM team made up of Brent and Scot Harden and six-time National Enduro Champion Mike Lafferty, riding a 450 XC.