Bolivian Juan Carlos Salvatierra and his five-rider team overcame a pair of pre-running snafus to win their first SCORE overall motorcycle race. The team piloted its KTM 450 SX-F in a winning time of 26 hours, 37 minutes and 17 seconds. The team leader, Salvatierra, was injured while pre-running, but he mustered enough to start the race in La Paz and ride a short distance before handing off the bike to a teammate.
Salvatierra, 42, had a team of four riders doing the bulk of the work: Shane Logan, Argentinian international rally racer Diego Llanos, Carter Klein and Corbin McPherson.
Starting first and leading the entire race, Salvatierra and his team finished just over 13 minutes ahead of the 3x Husqvarna FE 450 team led by Ciaran Naran.
In earning their first SCORE overall motorcycle race victory, Salvatierra started the race and quickly turned the motorcycle over to Logan, who rode to race mile 175. McPherson rode from race mile 175 to race mile 350, Llanos rode from race mile 350 to race mile 767, Logan rode again from race mile 767 to race mile 960, Klein rode from race mile 960 to race mile 1243 where Logan hopped back in the saddle to take it to the finish line. The winning team had a speed average of 49.34 miles per hour.
“It feels really good to be at the finish, especially with this being the second-longest SCORE race ever,” Salvatierra said. “It’s great to think we made history here. We had a very eventful week with two of our riders getting injuries and another one getting sick. But we have lions in our team and Shane and Diego had to step up for us and take sections from other riders without pre-running them and did a wonderful job. I couldn’t do my section because I got injured on Friday. The bike was flawless during the entire race. Outside of tire changes and regular maintenance things, we didn’t have to do anything on it.”
Unfortunately, the race was marred by the serious injury to SLR Honda’s Kade Tinkler-Walker, who went down around mile 823. Walker had taken over riding duties from Mark Samuels shortly before he crashed in a remote area and suffered a head injury. The recently crowned NGPC Pro2-class Champion fell shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, November 16, and has not yet gained consciousness (as of Sunday, November 19).
According to the SLR team, Tinkler-Walker was located approximately 30 minutes after the crash, but it took several hours to get him extradited to an ambulance and eventually flown to a hospital.
“Kade definitely needs our prayers and is not out of the woods,” said Samuels Sunday via social media. “Most important is he’s got amazing help around him. He is incredibly strong. We will keep you posted on updates as soon as we can. Thank you to all the team members; this has been an incredibly heavy situation for us. Thank you, everyone.”
He was flown to Scripps Hospital in San Diego in critical condition.
The runner-up team, headed by the rider of record Naran, teamed with Derek Ausserbauer, Nick Lapaglia, Forrest Minchinton, Clayton Roberts and Tucker Hopkins.
“We ran a really good, clean race. I had a few little problems, but the boys are safe, and that’s what matters. Forrest had a pretty big fall in his section but no broken bones, which is the most important thing, and he kept the bike moving. But we survived the beast of Baja and that’s what matters.”
Austin and Matt Eddy, Brody Honea, Russell Tonjum and Jarrett Megla rounded out the top three on a Honda CRF450X.
“The bike ran well for the most part, but we had some lighting problems, and that held us back on some occasions,” said Eddy.
Jano Montoya, Kyle Tichenor, David Zarate, Bryce Stavron, Jesse Canepa and Robert Villalobos combined efforts to win Pro Moto 30 (riders over 30 years of age) on a KTM 450 EXC-F in 30:16:14 and with approximately 40 minutes to spare over the second-place team.
“I’m happy to be here in Ensenada after some very long 30 hours,” Montoya said. “We had a great time during the race; it was challenging and fun. We had some good competition early on and during the day. We had to bring our best game and be on top of everything, and that made us better. The battery died on us twice, but the team was there and we took care of it right away.”
The Fernando Beltran team took the Pro Moto Limited (under 450cc) win. Co-rider Mauri Herrera said, “It was a very long race, and just making it here to Ensenada is a big achievement for us. Nothing was easy during the last 29 hours, but fortunately, we made it here. The entire team [Herrera, Beltran, Larry Serna, Luis Flores, Dilan Avalos and Francisco Septien] did a very good job today.”
In Pro Moto 50, the Giovanni Spinali team took the win on a Yamaha YZ450FX with teammates John Griffin, Alan Julien, Troy Pierce, Mike Carter and Robby Naughton.
The Alirio Amado, Peter Eiland, Pedro Gonzalez, Curtis Lisenby, Manuel Vazquez, Nick Lanning and Justin Moore team topped the Pro Moto 40 division on a Yamaha WR450F.
“The race was really fun; it was really grueling. 1300 miles is a long way to go,” Tichenor said. Unfortunately, the team had to deal with some issues along the way.
“We had to make some impromptu adjustments due to some injuries, but we made it to the finish,” Tichenor said. “Morgan unfortunately broke his arm right after the start and maybe broke a leg, too. That got us off on a bad foot, and we had other injuries, too, but we regrouped and rearranged riders.”
Edgar Cota won the Pro Moto Ironman class. He rode a GasGas 450 for approximately 38 and a half hours and averaged 34.01 mph.
“The race went very well for us,” said Cota. “When we got to San Felipe [race mile 1000] the sun was coming up and didn’t have any issues from that point on. It’s my fourth victory in a SCORE race, and I’m very happy.”
OVERALL RESULTS (Top 5)
- Juan Carlos Salvatierra, Shane Logan, Diego Llanos, Carter Klein, Corbin McPherson (KTM) 26:34:17
- Cirian Naran, Derek Ausserbauer, Nick Lapaglia, Forrest Minchinton, Clayton Roberts, Tucker Hopkins (Hus) 26:52:38
- Austin Eddy, Matt Eddy, Brody Honea, Jarett Megla, Russell Tonjum (Hon) 29:06:03.
- Jano Montoya, Kyle Tichenor, David Zarate, Bryce Stavron, Jesse Canepa, Robert Villalobos (KTM) 30:16:14
- Adrian Ortiz, Albaro Ortiz, Gustavo Gonzales, Danny Mendoza, Sergio Garza (Hon) 30:28:26