The Competition Fizzles Out Before Checkpoint 1
For the second year straight, JCR HONDA’s Colton Udall and team mate Jeff “OX” Kargola take the fishing village of San Felipe in the SCORE season opener for the bikes in 2011. Just like last year, it was Kendall Norman’s mishap that gave the 6x bike of Udall the lead early on in the race. However this year, FMF KTM’s Ivan Ramirez and BAJA rookie Kurt Caselli presented an additional obstacle for Udall and Ox.
The highly anticipated race started off as a battle of 4 bikes: Two Hondas, a KTM and a KAWI. At race mile 19, 4x Kurt Caselli had taken the time adjusted lead and was trailing 1x Kendall Norman by a super tight 20 seconds, putting him in the lead by 00:40. As of race mile 30, they were neck and neck as Ramirez took over the riding duties from Caselli. Both 1x and 4x we’re twisting the life out of their throttles. Both bikes broke, Norman’s with a stick in the radiator, which went, unnoticed in 2 JCR pits. His engine gave way before the first of 4 checkpoints. KTM’s problems are unknown at press time.
THR KAWI paired veteran champs Shane Esposito and Steve Hengeveld with SCORE newcomer Bobby Garrison. At race mile 19, Garrison was fast but several minutes off the pace. By race mile 120 and checkpoint 2 it was 6x Udall with Hengeveld on the 5x KAWI 1 minutes back. That was due to Hengeveld’s rear tire getting roached on the super fast Diablo Lakebed. Esposito hung in there and crossed in second position and give the THR KAWI campaign points going in the BAJA 500 in June.
Rounding out the “Open Pro” class 22 was AJ Stewart (7x) on DP racing’s HONDA CFR450x. Teammates Bryce Stavron and Donald Stanley dealt with a rear tire meltdown just after the dreaded Matomi Wash. The young guns on 7x privateer team are more than happy to finish third since they were rated underdogs when pitted up against 4 other Factory “supported” teams. This sends Stewart to the Baja 500 with some points and, since, Kendall Norman does not receive any finishing points (unlike last year) gives the DP boys a little more polish for the season points chase.
In class 40, 2010 class champ Louie Franco suffered a possible broken back and collarbone at race mile 42 after long time vet Jeff Kaplan (400x) handed off to at him RM 19. As off press time, Franco was landed at UC San Diego Medical center in stable condition. Teammate Ron “SurfNRide” Wilson was said to have been continuing the race on a repaired 400x in order to collect finishing points toward an overall season championship.
In class 30 it was 306x Mike Johnson, followed by 2011 class champ Francisco Septian (300x) and then 301x Bill Witt / Kevin Johnson.
As of press time the first class 40 bikes across were Mike Prunty (401x) and Oscar Fazz (403X). Ron Wilson and Jeff Kaplan were currently still on the course, trying to get finishing g points for their 2011 campaign.