2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results

Mark Kariya | June 3, 2018

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results – After winning the season-opening San Felipe 250, SLR (Slam Life Racing) Honda’s Justin Morgan and Mark Samuels took that momentum and—adding Justin Jones to the mix—ran away with the 50th BF Goodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500, round two in SCORE’s World Desert Championship.

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results
(L-R) Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan and Justin Jones: The winning Baja 500 team. Photo: Mark Kariya

The 50th edition of the storied race saw 321 entries line up with the motorcycles starting at 3:30 in the morning in the heart of town. From there, they faced the longest (at 542 miles) and likely the toughest 500 course in race history, with 187 of those entries making it back to Ensenada within the 22-hour time limit. Jones/Morgan/Samuels completed the distance in 11 hours, 54 minutes and 58 seconds, making them the seventh-fastest vehicle behind a half-dozen SCORE Trophy trucks with Rob MacCachren the fastest of those in 11:21:15.

As winners of the previous round, Morgan and company got to start first, which proved to be an advantage with dust hanging in the still night air longer than during daylight hours. The pace aboard their Monster Energy/Lava Propane/Fly Racing CRF450X proved to be unmatchable day or night, as they eased away from the field with each mile.

“Everybody was in a good mood and it was stress-free and we were really happy the whole time,” Morgan said. “I think that played a big factor.

“I did the first 240 miles and I did as good as I think I could’ve possibly done. I kept it really smooth, I didn’t push it, I rode within my ability level and it turned out good. I gave it to Mark and he rode great.”

Their ride wasn’t entirely trouble-free, though, Morgan revealing, “Jones went up the [Pacific] coast [side of the course] and it was just about perfect until he got before Santo Tomas [around mile 460] and the forks came apart inside. We were riding on just springs because all the oil came out of it on [our] boots. He gave [the bike] back to me near Ojos [Negros around mile 510] and he was like, ‘Don’t let the front wheel leave the ground!’ because it felt like it was going to break it; it felt like the front wheel was going to come out the bottom.” Despite that handicap, they made it to the finish intact and in first.

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results

Fourth off the line, the defending series champion Max Eddy, Jr./Shane Esposito/Tyler Lynn reportedly made it tough on themselves, sliding back a spot early then playing catch-up to finish second in 12:29:54 aboard their Contractor Nation/Chris Haines Motorcycle Adventure Co./Pro Circuit CRF450X.

A regular in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, teenager Lynn made his SCORE debut after getting the call from Eddy and Esposito who wanted to add a third rider for the 500, and he performed solidly in a different type of desert racing.

“It was definitely something different hitting the VCPs (Virtual Check Points),” he explained. “There’s [physically] nothing at the VCPs; it’s just that you have to hit them [by using GPS coordinates].”

He continued, “You can’t push it as hard [as at a hare & hound]. You’ve got to save the bike, you’ve got to give it off to your other rider [in good shape], you’ve got hundreds of miles [to do] and you can’t push as hard as you can for 150 miles [like in a hare & hound] so you’ve just got to pace yourself really good.

“I had a great Baja experience coming down here for the first time and being able to ride with the 1X with Max and Shane. They taught me a bunch of stuff this last week and it’s really helped.”

The fifth bike off the line belonged to Skyler Howes/Garrett Poucher/Michel Valenzuela, but after steadily hammering away, they ended up third in 13:13:15 aboard their Garrett Off-Road Racing/STI/Fly Racing CRF450X, the team’s first-ever SCORE podium.

Howes took stints in both the dark (just after start to mile 120) and during the day (270 to 405), saying, “[The section from the Mike’s Sky Rancho cutoff to Colonet on the Pacific side] was brutal because the quads and the Sportsman bikes got to cut off that whole [northeastern] loop (thus reducing their total miles to about 473). I think there were four or five quads ahead of me and a Sportsman bike. Only one of the [quad riders] looked back and pulled over. Every single other quad [rider] looked back and tried to race me, and it was super, super deep in silt. I ended up going down in a silt bed. It was gnarly and kind of zapped me and got me super-frustrated going across the cross-over, but I actually made up a ton of time, apparently. I got back around 4X (the Santiago Creel/Ray Dal Soglio/Braxton Gallian/Austin Myers/Troy Vanscourt/Mark Winkelman team eventually DNFed). We were about 18 miles back from 66X (Santiago Creel/Massimo Mangini/Brandon Prieto/Eric Yorba’s Monkey Business by La Baja Race Team/Mass Brothers Powder Coatings/O’Neal Racing KTM 450 XC-F). By the time I got back off the bike [at 405], we were less than eight.”

After Poucher took the bike up the Pacific Coast side, Howes said they were even closer so he got back on at 465 and passed 66X before handing the bike to Valenzuela at 500. From there, new father Valenzuela kept the bike ahead for their first podium, 66X having to contend with a fuel-delivery issue that led to them finishing fifth in 13:50:54. Veterans Tim Abshire/Ben Binkley/Kreg McCoy/Damon Myers/Scott Myers/Brian “Spud” Walters snuck in for fourth overall bike on their Echo Collective/Stadium Pizza/Precision Concepts CRF450X in 13:48:54.

Other class winners were Sergio Garza/Philip Jaramillo/Jorge Ramirez/Arturo Salas in Pro Moto Limited (less than 400cc) with a final time of 13:56:15, Greg Bardonnex/Ryan Liebelt/Andrew Puckett/Justin Schultz in Pro Moto 30 (13:59:44), Jeff Kawell/Jano Montoya/Alberto Ruiz/Sergio Vegas in Pro Moto 40 (14:18:18), John Griffin/Troy Pearce/Earl Roberts/Giovanni Spinali in Pro Moto 50 (14:36:09), Craig Adams/Doug Smith/Bob Johnson/Guy Laycraft/Dave Potts in Pro Moto 60 (15:58:49) and Hector Cardena/Joe Leal/Oswaldo Moncada/Raul Ortega, Jr./Carlos Silva/Carlos Silva, Jr. in Sportsman Motorcycle (13:20:19 for the abbreviated course).

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results



  PRO MOTO UNLIMITED (400cc or more)1. 7x Justin Morgan, 28, El Cajon, Calif./Mark Samuels, 28, Yucca Valley, Calif./Justin Jones, 25, Murrieta, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 11:45:58 (45.49mph); 2. 1x Shane Esposito, 43, Temecula, Calif./Max Eddy Jr, Barstow, Calif./Tyler Lynn, 17, Utah, Honda CRF450X, 12:29:54; 3. 3x Garrett Poucher, 35, Valencia, Calif./Michel Valenzuela, Tijuana, Mexico/Skyler Howes, Utah, Honda CRF450X, 13:13:15; 4. 19x Scott Myers, 49, Wildomar, Calif./Kreg McCoy/Damon Myers/Ben Binkley/Brian Walters/Tim Abshire, Honda CRF450X, 13:48:54; 5. 66x Santiago Creel, 31, Mexico City, Mexico/Brandon Prieto,  Ensenada, Mexico/Ivan Ramirez, Ensenada, Mexico/Massimo Mangini, Italy/Eric Yorba, Rosarito Beach, Mexico, KTM 500EXCF, 13:50:54; 6. 17x Wyatt Brittner, 23, Reno, Nev./Jason Alosi, 32, Reno, Nev./Levi Hutchings, 32, Elko, Nev./Taylor Stevens, 22, St. George, Utah, KTM 450EXCF, 13:55:27; 7. 69x Kenny Wilson, 31, Ojai, Calif./Ben Hagle, 28, Somis, Calif./Matthew Kadowski, 26, Somis, Calif., KTM 450EXCF, 18:58:50; 8. 82x Tanner Dutton, 36, Del Norte, Colo./, KTM 500EXCF, 21:16:18.
(9 Starters, 8 Finishers) 
  PRO MOTO 40 (Riders over 40 years old)— 1. 400x Jano Montoya, 46, Winter Garden, Fla. (Peru)/Alberto Ruiz, 42, Ensenada, Mexico/Jeff Kawell, 45, Riverside, Calif./Sergio Vega, Ensenada, Mexico, KTM 450EXCF, 14:18:18 (37.89 mph); 2. 427x Salvador Sainz, 52, Chula Vista, Calif. (Tijuana, Mexico)/Jose Gonzalez, 51, Rosarito Beach, Mexico/Carlos Valdoz, 55, Chula Vista, Calif./Oscar Garcia, 44, Tijuana, Mexico/Oscar Fazz, 50, Vista, Calif./Juan Moreno, Tijuana, Mexico, KTM 450XCF, 17:47:51; 3. 402x Michael Wolff, 43, Santa Rosa, Calif./Rob Barnum, 52, Apple Valley, Calif./Mike Kay, 54, Santa Rosa, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 21:53:07.
(3 Starters, 3 Finishers)
  PRO MOTO 30 (Riders over 30 years old)—1. 300x Ryan Liebelt, 38, Reedley, Calif./Greg Bardonnex, 43, Visalia, Calif./Andrew Puckett, 33, Bakersfield, Calif./Justin Shultz, 35, Lake Forest, Calif., Yamaha WR450F, 13:59:44 (38.73mph); 2. 333x Chad Thornton, 46, Farmington, N.M./Dennis Belingheri, 48, Reno, Nev./Jason Trubey, 42, Henderson, Nev./Steve Tichnor, 42, Reno, Nev./Paul Luce, 44, Albuquerque, N.M., KTM XCF450, 14:05:51; 3. 360x Santiago Creel, 31, Mexico City, Mexico/Kevin Murphy, 42, Camarillo, Calif./Abel Burgeno, Mazatlan, Mexico/Jim O’Neal, 72, Simi Valley, Calif. /Enrique Fuhrken, Mexico City, Mexico/Gerardo Rojas, San Quintin, KTM 500EXCF, 14:15:18; 4. 303x Luis Gomez, 37, Obregon, Mexico/Joaquin Montero, 42/Manuel Ochoa, 42/Edgar Espinoza, 41/Jorge Tamaura, 31, Honda CRF450X, 15:23:38; 5. 377x Justin Hansen, 41, Paso Robles, Calif./Jason Ratzlaff, 39, Paso Robles, Calif./Chris Walter, 34, Paso Robles, Calif./Matt Shook, 55, Torrance, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 15:45:47, 6. 323x Jaime Aguilar, 51, Clements, Calif. (ROR-Mike Mettler)/Mark Henderson/Scott Macias/Sam Nava/Andrew Terry, Yamaha YZ450FX, 16:29:30; 7. 304x Chris Racan, 37, Cardiff by the Sea, Calif./Michael Garger, 32, San Diego/Steve Willenberg, 59, Lakeside, Calif./Steve Grieb, 46, San Diego, Honda CRF450X, 17:38:56; 8. 365x Nick Lanning, 36, Baton Rouge, La./Kevin Gravett, 40, Beaumont, Texas/Ryan Morgan, 32, Dallas/Dr. Sloan Hilderbrand, 44, Dallas/Allen Colic, 41, Seattle/Kyle W. Parry, 35, Beaumont, Texas, Honda CRF450X, 20:57:44;
9. 301x Chris Kassity, 54, Carson City, Nev. (Grimes, Iowa)/Brenton Fanning/Ryan Granton/Mike Carter/Alan Julian/Matt Eddy, Barstow, Calif., KTM XC450F, 21:16:19. 
(10 Starters, 9 Finishers)
  PRO MOTO 50 (Riders over 50 years old)—1. 510x Giovanni Spinali, 52, El Cajon, Calif./Earl Roberts, 57, Mexicali, Mexico/Troy Pearce, 51, Ramona, Calif./John Griffin, 51, Lake Forest, Calif., Yamaha YZ450FX, 14:36:09; (37.12mph) 2. 506x Mark Adams, 57, Midway, Texas/Chris Smith, 53, Lufkin, Texas/Todd Binns, 54, Riverside, Calif./Dick McFarlane, 55, Houston/Erick Jacobs, 51, Ridgecrest, Calif./Scott Mulholland, 58, Roxborough Park, Colo., Yamaha YZ450FX, 18:05:26; 3. 550x Bill Sekeres, 57, Canyon Country, Calif./Mike Prunty, 58, Temecula, Calif./Kevin Ward, 56, Chatsworth, Calif./Harold Harris, 56, Sanger, Calif./Manny Ornellas, 55, Redding, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 18:49:58. 
(3 Starters, 3 Finishers)
  PRO MOTO LIMITED (less than 400cc)—1. 106x Philip Jaramillo, 20, Tijuana, Mexico/Sergio Garza, 20, Tecate, Mexico/Jorge Ramirez, 17, Ensenada, Mexico/Arturo Salas, 18, Chula Vista, Calif., KTM 350XCF, 13:56:15; (38.89mph) 2. 100x Santiago Creel, 31, Mexico City, Mexico/Alberto Heredia, Ensenada, Mexico/Larry Serna, Tijuana, Mexico/Ricardo de la Pena, Los Angeles/Austin Miller, 28, Austin, Texas/Raul Hernandez, Tijuana, Mexico/Alvaro Miller, Monterrey, Mexico, KTM 350XCF, 13:58:26; 3. 110x Carlos Miranda, 24, Ensenada, Mexico/Ulises Fierro, 26, Tijuana, Mexico/Miguel Munoz, 25, Ensenada, Mexico/Marco Higuera, 32, Ensenada, Mexico, KTM 350XCF, 14:40:15; 4. 125x Fernando Beltran, 41, Ensenada, Mexico/Emanuel Verdugo, 33, Ensenada, Mexico/David Zarate, 28, Ensenada, Mexico/Rigoberto Gomez, Ensenada, Mexico/Rodolfo Patron, 38, Tijuana, Mexico/David Estrada, 44, Ensenada, Mexico, Yamaha YZ250F, 14:44:28; 
(6 Starters, 4 Finishers)
  PRO MOTO IRONMAN (Solo Riders)—1. 730x Francisco Septien, 42, Ensenada, Mexico, Honda CRF450X, 14:29:24 (37.41mph); 2. 721x Jose Carrasco, 28, Rosarito Beach, Mexico, Suzuki RMX450Z, 15:15:59; 3. 706x Kevin Daniels, 50, Bishop, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 15:45:16, 4. 775x Tanner Janesky, 23, Middlebury, Conn., Honda CRF450X, 16:57:07; 5. 714x Lawrence Janesky, 53, Middlebury, Conn., Honda CRF450X, 21:18:59;
(7 Starters, 5 Finishers)
  PRO MOTO 60 (Riders over 60 years old)—1. 649x Guy Laycraft, 61, Canada/Doug Smith, 63, Upland, Calif./Craig Adams, 61, San Clemente, Calif./Dave Potts, 60, Los Angeles/Bob Johnson, El Cajon, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 15:58:49; (33.92mph) 2. 602x Oscar Ochoa, 60, Tijuana, Mexico/Gilberto Gallardo, 60, Chula Vista, Calif./Hector Castillo, 62, Mexicali, Mexico/Jaime de la Torre, 60, Tijuana, Mexico/Cesar Parra, 60, Tijuana, Mexico/Alex Melero, 63, Tecate, Mexico, KTM 450XCF, 17:43:32;
(3 Starters, 2 Finishers) 

2018 SCORE Baja 500 Results




Mark Kariya | Contributor Kariya spends way too much time in the desert, but we’re glad he does as he’s the man who gets us our coverage of all things sandy.