Riders gathered in the sun, looking far less exhausted than at the other finish lines. They were waiting to caravan back to the San Nicolas Hotel & Casino, after the final brutal day of the BAJA RALLY. Maybe it was the relief from knowing this was the end which made them seem so weightless. No longer burdened by the next step.
All week the top positions in each class volleyed back and forth between celebrated veterans, grass roots underdogs and rookies who were born to race! But for the overall win, the battle raged between two Honda 450s, a KTM 950 Super Enduro and a Polaris RZR. BR champion title-holder Steve Hengeveld has been blowing our minds with his incredible performance racing a UTV for the very first time, snagging an amazing 1st place overall! Garret Poucher, currently holding 3rd place in the SCORE International Series literally left us, and his opponents, in his dusty wake each special stage unsurprisingly on the podium. With Long-time competitor and Rally Comp inventor, Mike Johnson mixed up the stew holding firmly onto the third seat only slipping to 7th once. But the real standout, though in the end malfunctions and minor issues kept him from the podium, newcomer Wes VanNieuwenhuise represented Team Cyclops Adventure Sports in the ADV Expert class and dominated on his “big boy” bike. Riding on a broken foot no less. Not bad for his first navigation rally.
Altogether, the drivers and riders took a beating and came out of the scuffle sweaty, dirty and proud. Everyone who gave their all at the 2017 BAJA RALLY deserves recognition, not because “we’re all winners.” But because if you have the guts and the stamina and the skills to race in Baja, you’re in a league all your own.