The Bud Light Baja 500 Sur was a new race for this year, but it had a familiar winner. SCORE International added a second 500 to its schedule, but this one is run entirely in the southern part of the peninsula. The race started in Cabo San Lucas, then ran 424 miles and finished in the town of Loreto. In the Pro Motorcycle class, it was a showdown between the 1x THR Kawasaki team of Ricky Brabec and Justin Morgan and two Ox Motorsports teams. The 5x Honda was ridden solo by Colton Udall while the 3x bike was ridden by Mark Samuels and Ray Dal Sogilo.
Udall started first with Brabec 30 seconds behind. It wasn’t long before Brabec closed the gap and took the physical lead. Udall’s strategy was to ride solo with a large tank for fewer fuel stops, and he managed to get back in front shortly after Brabec handed the Kawasaki to Morgan. The Kawasaki had a number of problems, including a close call with a car and wheel trouble, but Morgan managed to keep pace with Udall for some time, keeping the lead on adjusted time. As the race wound down, luck ran out for the Kawasaki team. Morgan brought the bike into the next rider change just as it developed engine trouble. Brabec tried to continue, but the KX450 motor was blown. That left Udall an easy win with the other Ox Motorsports 3x bike of Samuels following in second.
At the finished Udall was understandably happy, but expressed his concerns about the course. “This was an awesome experience but I wish I had a helicopter because there was a lot of scary stuff out there. One awesome moment in the race for me was when Justin Morgan (Ricky Brabec 1x co-rider) and I were racing just after La Paz and we battled back and forth and we both had the bikes wide open. It was a battle for the power of the dust. I’m happy that I’m here and I didn’t put the bike on the ground once. We used a different strategy for this race by using a four-gallon tank that is nearly a gallon bigger than our normal race tank. When you are starting in Cabo it is a different game because it is harder to stay focused because it is a party town. I love it down here. There was a lot of the terrain similar to races starting in Ensenada but not so many whoops and the course is very fast. I’m holding the bike wide open a lot down here. I really like the fact that SCORE races are being televised because that is huge for our race team. We are running this race team on heart and that is pretty much all. We have some key sponsors that are getting the job done but it is a lot of work and a huge investment that I hope will pay off in the end.”
Mark Samuels echoed some of Udall’s feelings. “This whole course was really fast with a couple of technical sections. It was fun but a little scary because we were running high speeds for so long and there was a lot of local traffic and animals on the course.”
Mark Winkelman was first in class and fourth overall motorcycle to finish. Winkelman shared riding duties with Kevin Murphy and Morgan Crawford. “It was a fast course with a lot of speed zones so you had to stay on top of your GPS,” Crawford said. “Kevin Murphy probably had the most fun section through the washes in San Javier. Kevin crashed in the wash right before the finish while we were pre-running on Thursday when he hit a hidden rock and wadded up the bike. He got a minor concussion and had to have a local rancher pick him up and bring him in.”
Kevin Daniels won the official Ironman class and was sixth overall motorcycle to finish. “This is my first full season of racing these races and I’ve never raced on a team. The only thing I know is riding by myself. I’m finding my stride and still learning how to ride the bike and when to press it and not press it. More than anything it is a mental game for me. Physically I can go for a long, long time. I’m still figuring out how to ride the machine. I went over pretty good near La Paz and the bike went on top of me and I broke my GPS. At that point I had lost my speedometer and odometer so I didn’t know how fast I was going or where I was on the course.”
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