Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan and Justin Jones combined efforts to come out on top of the 2020 SCORE Baja 1000 motorcycle results, November 20-22 while competing in the Pro Moto Unlimited class. The Samuels-led team, riding a Honda CRF450X, finished a comfortable two hours ahead of the next-best team that was made up of Santiago Creel, Brandon Prieto, Sammy Mantalvan, Eric Yorba, Ricardo Villalobas and AMA Hare & Hound Champion Dalton Shirey. The Samuels team finished the race with a speed average of 43.11 mph; Creel’s team 39.20 mph.
The Creel team threatened the Samuels team early in the race, as the two heavy heaters in Pro Moto Unlimited battled for the lead, but mechanical problems hit the Creel team at approximately the 250-mile mark. The delay in fixing the bike put the team well behind the Samuels team and could never catch back up.
Samuel’s Honda officially crossed the finish line after 20 hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds. Creel’s Husqvarna team finished up in 22:55.10.
Samuels started for the Honda team and quickly handed the bike off to Morgan, who rode to race-mile 124, where he handed the bike off to Jones. Jones then went to work until mile 303, when he switched with Samuels. Samuels rode till mile 604, and then Morgan carried the Honda torch to the finish.
“This was a very tough course and an extremely demanding one, it was the longest loop race ever here,” Samuels said. “It was very technical, and they added some new stuff to it. You had to have good equipment and good riders to go, perform and win it, and luckily we do have that. We’ve built that over the years. For a SCORE Baja 1000, that was very brutal, tough and long, and I’m glad to be the first one here.”
Morgan said, “It was a really long, technical and physically demanding course for us on the bike. We just stayed steady, and it ran great all night and got us here with no problems. It’s a super big deal and we don’t take it for granted. We had help from a lot of people and we really appreciate it.”
“This one was tough for me,” admitted Jones. “It was my first SCORE Baja 1000 back since a knee injury and it kicked my butt. To be honest, I wasn’t ready for it, but I gave my best. It definitely wasn’t my best SCORE Baja 1000, but I kept it together, stayed off the ground, got the bike going and let my teammates bring it home. It ended up great.”
Yorba finished up for the runner-up Husqvarna team. “It was a cool course,” he said. “They threw us in some new stuff and there were portions that we hadn’t run in a long time. We had a good battle Mark Samuel’s (1x) team and even got the physical lead at one point, but we ran into some bike problems around mile 250 and that just set us back, which was unfortunate. I felt we were here to make it happen. It was just bad luck, but it’s part of racing. There were plenty of times when we could have called it quits and just saved the bike, but we figured we got to do everything we could to get in here. I’m glad we’re here, we’re all in one piece and we’ll live to fight another day.”
Third overall was the winning Pro Moto 30 (riders over 30 years old) team made up of Francisco Septien, Shane Esposito, and Justin Shultz. The team completed the race in 24:32.19 (36.61 mph).
Esposito said, “Half the day went okay, but then we had to replace the front brake system three times. Justin was a last-minute rider with us and didn’t get down here until Wednesday to pre-run. He got lost down in San Felipe and that’s when Jano Montoya’s (325x) bike passed us. I was worried about the issues we had tonight, so I’m glad we finished it safely.”
Fourth overall and second in the Pro Moto 30 class was the Jano Montoya team made up of Montoya, Alberto Ruiz, Bryce Stavron, Bryce Ocley, Kyle Tichenor, and Jesse Canepa (KTM 450 EXCF). The trio finished just nine minutes behind the Septien, Esposito, Shultz team.
“We had a lot of mishaps,” Stavron said. “We’ve been leaking oil since noon and we’ve been literally just filling it up with oil every pit. We lost the connection to our lightning system and there were a couple crashes, too. We even had to replace a battery at one point. We had a lot to go up against, but we never keeled over, we just wanted it.”
The Gorge Ramirez, Sergio Garza, Kadin Guard, Jason Alosi and Daniel Reynoso team (Husqvarna FE35) rounded out the top five overall in Pro Moto Unlimited.
Sixth overall was the winning Pro Moto 40 team of Alejandro de Mazo, Pablo Guillen, Bernardo Segura, Gerardo Rojas, Pablo Guillen, Luis Fallel and Patrick Goeters.
Next was the top Pro Moto Limited team headed by Fernando Beltran, followed by the top Pro Moto 50 team (Vance Kennedy, Dennis Belingheri, Dave Mayer, Eric Zite, and Steve Hatch.
The top Pro Moto Ironman (solo) was Bolivian Juan Carlos Salvatierra.
“This victory is for Bolivia,” he said. “I know a lot of people were watching and sending messages in my country. I knew it would be a long race, but there were more rocky sections than I anticipated, and it was a very technical course and that kept the race at a very slow pace. That made it even more difficult, but I’m thankful I got to the finish line in good shape. I still can’t understand all that happened in the last 33 hours.”
2020 SCORE Baja 1000 Results
- 1X Mark Samuels (Hon) 20:50:29.864
- 66X Santiago Creel (HSQ) 22:55:10.118
- 370X Fancisco Septien (Hon) 24:32:19.355
- 325X Jano Montoya (KTM) 24:41:23.672
- 105X Gorge Ramirez (HSQ) 25:15:45.434
Get the complete 2020 Baja 1000 results here.
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