Colton, Timmy and Kamo Prove They Are The Masters Of BAJA
LA PAZ, BAJA, CA. MEXICO- I was the most highly anticipated off road battle in North Amercia and the 2012 BAJA 1000 was the battle of the century indeed. Never before in the modern era have 3 major teams of different colors been so closely contested. With the SCORE BAJA season points championship on the line, any of the three teams could have claimed the 1x plate based on which ever bike reached the city of La Paz first.
Colton Udall towed the line for JCR HONDA and opened up a spectacular lead north of San Felipe by passing THR KAWASAKI’s Robby Bell within one mile of where Colton’s former teammate Jeff “OX” Kargola suffered a fatal crash a year and a half earlier. Bell, who is a former HONDA champion, won the last BAJA 500 and was a formidable opponent for Udall, but this was Udall’s day to shine.
Both FMF KTM and THR KAWI staged solid campaigns throughout 2012, each winning one of the 3 coveted SCORE BAJA races. These challengers were so solid in fact, that the general consensus was that Colton and teammates Timmy Weigand and David Kamo were under-gunned with only 3 riders (versus 4 each on KTM and KAWI). Up and down the BAJA peninsula, fans, crews and racers alike had underestimated JCR, doubting that Colton and Co. would produce a win in their final moment of truth.
VIDEO INTERVIEW COLTON UDALL EXPLAINS HIS TEAM’S 2012 SUCCESS-
Fans at home used the information age to follow the race as it was reported through social media updates from start to finish and Colton’s split times widened as he ride the entire 325 to El Crucero without getting off the bike. KTM’s Mike Brown and Ivan Ramirez shared the task that Colton himself mustered alone. It was Colton’s day; the only problem was this is a “night race”.
As the short day came to an end (traveling southeast means less daylight than normal) Destry Abbott rode the KAWI against HONDAs David Kamo and KTM’s Kurt Caselli. By the time the race reached the traditional midpoint of San Ignacio, Colton got back on the 1x bike with a totally fresh David Pearson hot on his tail. Pearson ran a solid section and took an 8-minute deficit and trimmed it down to a minute and a half versus the HONDA by the time the lead bikes reached the town of Loreto. KTM had suffered a minor technical issue further north that se them back even further versus the HONDA and KAWI.
Alas, the evening battle between nighttime specialist Steve Hengeveld and JCR’s Timmy Weigand ensued. Fans from around over the world watched their computer monitors and smart phones as BAJA PITS’ satellite-relay-updates were crossed posted throughout the cybersphere. Hengeveld stalked Weigand closely for over 100 miles before his moment of truth: Where he was to attempt his pass near race mile 990, his KAWASAKI motor broke the piston and he was again dashed by Johnny Campbell’s dynasty, the very one he contributed to building a decade earlier. Meanwhile, KTM’s Quinn Cody went down with a broken femur, ending KTM’s hopes to knock Johnny Campbell off the top of the podium and taking Cody out of the picture, supposedly, for the 2013 Dakar Rally.
MAX & RICKY’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
Meanwhile, with KTM out of contention for the win and KAWI out of the race, this opened the door for privateer team Max Eddy Jr. and Ricky Brabec to land on the overall podium with their class 21 bike, sponsored BAJA racing benefactor Mark Winkleman. Although Jim O’neal was the “rider of record” it simply does not count if you only ride a few easy miles. This was a last minute effort produced by Winkleman and, while BAJA veteran Shane Esposito kicked major ass all the way to San Felipe, the fact that Brabec and Eddy manned up with only one chase driver (Kyle Mangles) all the way to La Paz for the podium finish is a testiment to what these guys can do in 2013. We expect Winkleman to sponsor his own team with Eddy and Brabec pulling major duty and likely “rider of record” honors.
The impressive E Fact Energy team of Mark Samuels and Ian Young (3x) had bad luck as Samuels had a gas “issue” early in the race. He was doing great with the overall physical lead before having to literally run backward on the course to find gas. This may have cost Samuels and a second place or at least a podium and BAJA 1000 rookie Mathis “The Danish Cookie” Riiber rode a short section holding time well from El Crucero to Bahia de Los Angeles. We hope to see E Fact Energy return in 2013 to stage a full campaign in the prestigious SCORE BAJA series.
The mainstay veterans of class 40 returned again to conquer the season points championship for Jeff Kaplan and Ron “SurfNRide” Wilson. “The” Ricky ‘RJ’ Johnson rode the 400x bike from the start to HONDA pit 3, while Kaplan and Wilson leapfrogged down the BAJA to find another win. Wilson suffered a broken wrist and kept going, taking one for the team.
BAJA is a funny thing when it comes to the sport of off road motorcycle racing and there is tremendous irony in the fact that is both the most important off road event in North America and, at the same time, the least covered. The unfortunate nature of “narco-terrorism” in the border towns and especially mainland Mexico has stigmatized Baja, causing collateral damage to the sport of off road, to the fans and very most importantly to the great people of the BAJA peninsula. The saving grace for all of this moving forward for bike fans is that it appears obvious the FMF KTM and THR will return to BAJA in March to wage war, once again against Johnny Campbell and 1x champion Colton Udall