Video - JCR Honda Wins 2013 SCORE Baja 500
The pre-race buzz at the 2013 Tecate SCORE Baja 500 was that the Class 22 pro motorcycle class win would be a battle to the finish, but for the defending event champion THR/Monster Energy Kawasaki team and both FMF Racing/Bonanza KTM squads, it became a battle just to finish.
As it has so many times before, the Johnny Campbell Racing/Rockstar Energy Honda team delivered the goods in Baja, with teammates Timmy Weigand, Colton Udall and David Kamo collaborating in a mistake-free race to cover the 500.99-mile distance in 9 hours, 46 minutes and 50.436 seconds at an average speed of 51.326 mph. All results are unofficial, pending review by SCORE, but if the results stand they will mark the first Baja 500 race win for Udall and Kamo, as penalties and mistakes in the previous two editions of the race derailed solid efforts for the Baja 500 victory. There was simply no derailing them today.
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“My biggest deal today was Kurt Caselli,” Udall said. “I felt like I had Robby covered because in the last two races – the Baja 1000 and the San Felipe 250 – I had caught and passed him from pretty big deficits. Kurt Caselli is my hero. He was starting behind me, and I knew he was going to be there the whole time because he is a really solid guy. It sucks really bad that he hurt himself, but he was there. It’s just an awesome feeling to have guys like Kurt and Robby Bell and Pearson and all these guys racing against us and to know that we did it. Hopefully we had clean (transponder) tracks—you never know whether you won or not. Stuff happens. I did my best. I’m pretty sure I hit all my VCPs (virtual checkpoints) today.”
Udall rode about half the race distance himself, but he was quick to credit the work put in by his teammates for the victory.
“I’m absolutely stoked for David Kamo,” Udall said. “He didn’t get a deal for this year because of our budget, and Johnny (Campbell) had to put all his ducks on Timmy and me. But David came on and did a killer job, busting a hundred miles and passing all those sportsman guys. I’m super proud of David, and Timmy is just in the same realm as Kurt Caselli to me. He’s 33 years old and he still rips. He picks on me all day long, but I love it, and he shares all his experience with me. When we go race moto, he still spanks me. Both of those guys are amazing.”
The FMF/Bonanza Plumbing KTM 2X bike with Caselli aboard ran right with the Honda team early, but then Caselli crashed, reportedly suffering a broken wrist and essentially putting the team out of the hunt despite solid rides by Caselli teammates Ivan Ramirez and Mike Brown. Ramirez crossed the line for an unofficial runner-up finish with a time of 4:09:39.674 at an average speed of 49.527 mph, 22 minutes, 19.236 seconds behind Udall, who brought the JCR Honda across the finish line.
Despite running 370 miles of the race on a the fuel-injected KTM 450 that he shared with FMF/Bonanza Plumbing KTM teammate Ryan Abbotoye, Kendall Norman put together a strong ride on the 14X bike to finish third overall, with a time of 10:35:56.153 at an average speed of 47.363 mph. Norman finished 28 minutes, 16.479 seconds behind Udall.
But it was a real tough day at the office for the defending event champions, the THR Motorsports/Monster Energy Kawasaki team of Robby Bell, David Pearson, Steve Hengeveld and Taylor Robert, as both Pearson and Hengeveld suffered crashes and injuries that left them unable to challenge for the win. Pearson dropped out and was replaced by Bell, while Hengeveld managed to get going after his crash and handed off the bike, a gritty move considering that he may have suffered a broken leg.
“I had a good battle with Colton (early),” Bell said. “He stayed right on me, and I gave the bike to David in the physical lead but down on time. Then I heard he had pulled a little bit of time but then I guess he crashed pretty good and hurt his back, so I had to ride his sections. Then unfortunately Steve went down in his section. We’ve heard he might have broken his leg. I hope he is doing all right. I know he is already headed back to the States. I know he’s gonna be bummed. Dave and Steve are two of the most solid guys.”
The mishaps not only dropped them off the podium, but it left them an unofficial fifth overall, behind the DP Racing/Coyne Powersports 9X Honda ridden by A.J. Stewart, Justin Morgan and Chris Brown, who finished the race with a time of 11:05:33.83, averaging 45.256 mph. Bell and company finished the race with a time of 11:15:26.857, averaging 44.594 mph.
“Anything can happen in Baja,” Bell said. “Taylor was hauling. He rode really well. I’m bummed that we couldn’t repeat for Monster when they’re making such a huge effort down here.”
The team of Carlos Sanchez of San Diego, California, finished as the top Sportsman motorcycle on the alternate Sportsman course, which cut out the Summit section. It reduced the Sportsman race distance by approximately 103 miles. The Sanchez team’s winning time was 10:02:48.046.