Apdaly-Lopez-SCORE-Baja-500-6-16-15

Apdaly Lopez earned his first career win in the SCORE-International Series and the elite Trophy Truck class this weekend at the 2015 SCORE-International Baja 500. Powered by Dougans Racing Engines, Lopez averaged a blistering speed of 57.95 mph to take the overall win amongst a field of thirty Trophy Trucks. Lopez’ win marks the second consecutive win and third straight race with a podium for Dougans Racing Engines in the SCORE-International Series. The 20-year old arrived in Ensenada third in points behind 2015 Baja Sur 500 winner Eduardo Laguna and 2015 San Felipe 250 winner Tavo Vildosola. All ten vehicles outfitted with Dougans Racing Engines finished the grueling 510 mile course, with six finishing in the top eleven. Dougans racers now own five of the top six spots in the 2015 overall SCORE points standings.

Lopez left the start line in fifth position after his 00:05:40.07 qualifying run seeded him in the middle of the best racers in off-road, including Dougans racers #84 Nick Vanderway, #21 Tavo Vildosola, and 2014 overall points champion #1 Steven Eugenio.  By race mile 44.5, the top five physical leaders remained unchanged, but corrected time showed Lopez leading Vildosola by seventeen seconds.

Lopez pushed on to hunt down the physical leaders before heading to La Rumorosa to tackle the gigantic grade.  After making his way past Gordon, Lopez spent a large part of the race tailing Luke McMillin.  The two were first to race mile 292 before banking a hard left towards the coast in Valley de Trinidad but behind Bryce Menzies on corrected time.

Entering the coastal section of the race near race mile 380, Lopez stole the open air from McMillin, who was forced to pull over after a mechanical problem.  Lopez charged to the finish line and finished fifty-one seconds ahead of second place finisher, Rob MacCachren, who was not tracking the entire race.

“This is the first 500-mile race that I’ve driven solo. The toughest part was the endurance,” said Lopez.  “I’m very proud that the Mexicans appear to be dominating SCORE racing. When I was 10 years old it was my goal to someday win in Baja.”

Tavo Vildosola and co-driver Javi Valenzuela started in eighth position and stuck to their well-known attack strategy in hopes of capturing their first Baja 500 career win.  Vildosola Racing came in to the Baja 500 on top of the overall points standings and challenged for the overall the entire day.  “It was a hard-fought event and we were neck and neck with Apdaly through Borrego and up to San Matias and across to the beach. It was back and forth all day,” said Vildosoloa.   Vildosola crossed the finish line in Ensenada in third place but later received a penalty for speeding in controlled zone that put him back to fourth overall.

Mark Weyhrich and co-driver Ryan Williams of TSCO Racing muscled the #9 Trophy Truck to a twelfth position on the road early on.  Weyhrich was twenty-first off the line after a third position draw proved a disadvantage as faster lines progressed in Thursday’s qualifying in Uruapan.  Weyhrich lingered in position but never left the top ten all day on corrected time.   Weyhrich finished the race sixteen minutes off Lopez’ winning pace, securing a 6th place finish for Dougans Racing Engines.

2014 overall points champion Steven Eugenio finished 8th overall.  Eugenio was twelfth off the line and led on corrected time over Gordon and McMillin early in the race.  In an attempt to pass BJ Baldwin heavy in to the race, Eugenio caught a small tree that killed a bypass tube and bent a tie rod on the front right side of the #1 Trophy Truck.  Eugenio fixed the truck and handed it off to co-driver Armin Schwarz at Valley de Trinidad.  Armin passed five drivers to earn Galindo Motorsports and Dougans Racing Engines a 8th place finisher overall.  “We had a small tire issue and some suspension stuff. We hit a rock and bent a tie rod and that is really what set us back,” said Eugenio.

#58 Tracy Graf and #84 Nick Vanderway took 10th and 11th in the race.   Kyle Leduc qualified the #84 Trophy Truck and was second fastest.  Leduc started the race behind Robby Gordon and had a great run going before catching him.  Leduc moved in for the pass but slid wide after taking a turn too fast in the dust.  Leduc pulled off to change the flat he earned, simultaneously allowing six competitors to pass.  Fifteen miles later, the oil belt came off which set the team further back.  At race-mile 333, the truck was handed off to Vanderway, who continued on to the finish.

Of the thirty starters, only twenty three finished.  #45 Gary Magness, #17 Lalo Laguna and #85 Justin Davis all had respectable finishes.  Magness finished in fifteenth with a time of 10:56:59, Laguna finished seventeenth with a time of 11:17:56 and Davis finished twentieth with a time of 14:19:15.

Second to last finisher in the Trophy Truck class was #88 Sergio Salgado.  Salgado spent nearly seven hours swapping a transmission in a remote part of the race course.  Salgado’s crew delivered the transmission from the opposite side of the racecourse but allowed the team to finish sixteen and a half hours after leaving Ensenada earlier that morning.

TAGS:  , ,

Leave a reply