ENSENADA, Mexico — Helping cap the week-long celebration of the 212th anniversary of Mexican Independence, Bryce Menzies repeated as overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner at Saturday’s 3rd SCORE Baja 400.
The race launched the second half of the four-race 2022 SCORE World Desert Championship.
Menzies qualified second behind eventual runner-up Luke McMillin and got around him when McMillin was stopped with a flat tire around race mile 65. And he maintained his lead to the finish despite losing his four-wheel drive and finishing with two-wheel drive.
Menzies stayed in front of the hungry field of 197 starters from that point in his Mason Motorsports-built All Wheel Drive No. 7 Menzies Motorsports Ford Raptor, posting an admirable error-free, penalty free winning time of seven hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds with an average speed of 49.28 miles per hour over the challenging 393.82-mile course.
Under skies that went from cloudy to stunningly sunny, light winds with mild temperatures in the mid-70s Farenheit, finishers enjoyed the mostly temperate weather as well as the rugged race course.
An international Rally Racer as well as a long jump artist, Menzies, 35, was the 2011 SCORE Trophy Truck season point champion earning the 2011 SCORE Rookie of the Year award as well.
Saturday’s victory was not only his second straight in the SCORE Baja 400, presented by VP Racing Fuels, Menzies has now earned his eight career SCORE Trophy Truck race wins.
This race was a confidence re-builder for Menzies as well after a rare and disappointing did not finish in June’s SCORE Baja 500.
Menzies led a parade of Mason Motorsports AWD SCORE Trophy Trucks to the podium as San Diego’s Luke McMillin and his older brother Dan McMillin, finished second and third overall on Saturday.
After starting first and giving up the lead following a flat tire, San Diego’s Luke McMillin, 29, finished second in his No. 83 McMillin Racing Chevy 1500 in a time of 8:02:54, averaging 48.93 mph.
Claiming the final spot on the podium in third place, Dan McMillin, 34, also of San Diego, completed the course in 8:08:30 with an average speed of 48.37 mph.
“We had a clean day. We started out pretty smooth, just trying to chase Luke (McMillin) down,” Menzies said. “He got a flat early at about race mile 65. We got him while he was changing a flat. And then from there we just held him behind us with about a two and half minute gap and just wanted to keep him there in case we had any issues.
“Overall, we just had one flat and my co-driver (Willie Valdez) changed it in 50 seconds, which is absolutely unheard of,” Menzies continued. “Other than that issue we had a great run. It feels really good to win back-to-back SCORE Baja 400’s. We lost four-wheel drive at race mile 210. It tested my skills. I had to learn how to drive a four-wheel drive, then I had to re-learn to drive it with two-wheel drive. Overall, an epic day.”
“I could not ask for a better day. Thank you to all the fans down here. We love coming to Baja. And a huge thank you to SCORE for putting this race on. We wouldn’t be down here without all you guys (from SCORE). I love Baja. I love coming down here and we will be coming down here for a long time to come.”
Switching from the unique Pro Moto Ironman class for solo riders after winning two straight season class point championships, Bolivia’s legendary athlete and Dakar Rally veteran Juan Carlos Salvatierra won the Overall Motorcycle and Pro Moto Unlimited Class for the third straight 2022 race. Salvatierra won the SCORE Baja 400 with a four-rider team from three countries–two from the USA, and one each from Boliva and Mexico.
Salvatierra’s team from San Felipe and the SCORE Baja 500 was Mexico’s Arturo Salas and USA’s Shane Logan. Joining them for the SCORE Baja 500 has an additional rider on a four-nation team was Argentina’s Diego Llanos.
For the SCORE Baja 400 joining Bolivia’s Salvatierra was Salas, 19, from Tecate, Mexico, Logan, 20, from Lake Havasu City, Ariz. and the new member was Clayton Roberts, 20, Apple Valley, Calif.
Together the Salvatierra team completed the SCORE race course on their No. 10x KTM 450SX-F in a time of 8:27:47 with an average speed of 43.72 mph over the 370 miles that the Motorcycle and quad classes ran in this race.
Juan Carlos Salvatierra started the race and quickly switched to Salas. Salas rode to race mile 130. Roberts rode from race mile 130 to race mile 220. Salvatierra rode again from race mile 220 to race mile 295 and Logan rode race mile 295 to the finish.
Salvatierra, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, has raced nine years in the Dakar Rally, also mountain biking and triathlons. Considered the most important athlete in the history of Bolivia, in 2011, Salvatierra became the first athlete from Bolivia to race in the Dakar Rally. He is also a nine-time Bolivian National Motocross champion.
“We’re very happy that we won this race after having an issue early in the morning,” Salvatierra said. “The bike wouldn’t start and it costed us 30 minutes to make it work. Arturo did a great job in starting our comeback and Clayton gained quite a few positions too. I was able to put us in first place and Shane kept us there until the finish line. For most of the time, we had a problem with our antenna too and didn’t know exactly in which position we were. We’re relieved to be here and very happy with what we did.”
OVERALL UTV WINNER
Defeating 38 UTVs in four different classes and 23 in his own class alone, Austin Weiland was the Overall UTV and Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) winner with a penalty-free time of 9:30:19 in his No. 2954 Can-Am X-3. He averaged 41.43 mph and won the UTV Overall by over 34 minutes.
MORE UTV RESULTS
Winning the other Pro UTV classes were Mike Cafro, 52, Temecula, Calif. (Pro UTV Open, No. 1876 Polaris RZR Turbo S), Kaden Wells, 23, Hurricane, Utah (Pro UTV NA-Naturally Aspirated, No. 1995 Polaris RZR XP1000) and Randy Emberton, 63, Prescott, Ariz. (Pro UTV Stock, Polaris Turbo S).
TOP 10 OVERALL INCLUDES 9 SCORE TROPHY TRUCKS, 1 TROPHY TRUCK SPEC
Behind podium finishers Menzies, Luke McMillin and Dan McMillin, nine of the top 10 finishers, including the first nine were all behemoth SCORE Trophy Trucks along with one Trophy Truck Spec.
Fourth overall was Mexico’s hometown heroes Alan Ampudia and his brother Aaron Ampudia, both of Ensenada, with a time of 8:11:07 in the No. 10 Papas Y Beer Ford Raptor built by ID Designs.
Fifth overall was the team of Australian superstars Paul Weel and Toby Price in their Geiser Bros-built No. 46 Ford Raptor in a time of 8:14:51 while sixth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of Mike Walser, Comfort, Texas/Jax Redline, Amarillo, Texas, less than one second behind the Aussie duo with a time of 8:14:52 in their Mason Motorsports-Built No. 89 Chevy Silverado.
Seventh overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Hall of Famer Cameron Steele, San Clemente, Calif., who solo drove in his Desert Assassins Monster Energy No. 16 Ford Raptor (Geiser Bros) in 8:21:09 while eighth overall was San Diego’s Andy McMillin (Luke and Dan McMillin’s cousin), who also drove solo, with a time of 8:23:09 in his McMillin Racing No. 31 Mason-built Chevy Silverado.
Finishing ninth overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck was Kyle Jergensen, Phelan, Calif. in the Brenthel-built No. 27 Chevy Silverado in 8:23:50.
Cracking the top 10 overall finishers while winning his Trophy Truck Spec class was young gun Christopher Polvoorde, 21, Hemet, Calif. with a time of 8:26:05 in his Optima Batteries No. 204 Mason Motorsports-built Mason-Ford.
Coming back to a class he has won many champions in, Mexico’s legendary motorcycle racer Franciso Septien, 47, of Ensenada, returned to this class for the first time in several years to lead eight valiant racers who all finished the race in the Pro Moto Ironman class for solo riders.
Septien rode his trusty No. 730x Honda CRF450X to a winning time of 9:40:48.
With all eight entries in the special class finishing within the 19-hour time limit, second in class was class point leader Brandon Wright, 45, Oak Hills, Calif. on the No. 750x Husqvarna FE501 in 9:45:31 and third was Bolivia’s Fabricio Fuentes, 45, on the No. 785x 450SX-F.
In the other solo rider class, Pro Quad Ironman, finishing his daring duel with the desert was Puerto Rico’s Faelly Lopez, 39, with a laborious time of 12:40:38 on his No. 83a Honda TRX450R.
Besides Salvatierra in Pro Moto Unlimited, also continuing the season with three straight wins to lead the point standings in their respective classes are five other drivers in Truck, Motorcycle and Quad classes.
With three straight class wins besides Salvatierra are Gustavo Vildosola, Mexicali, Mexico (SCORE TT Legend, No. 21L Ford Raptor), Jano Montoya, Winter Garden, Fla. (Peru) (Pro Moto 30, No. 325x KTM 450EXCF), Fernando Beltran, Ensenada, Mexico (Pro Moto Limited, No. 180x Honda CRF450X), Ryan Liebelt, Reedley, Calif. (Pro Moto 40, No. 400x Yamaha WR450F) and Faelly Lopez, Puerto Rico (Pro Quad Ironman, No. 83a Honda TRX450R).
Winning their respective classes for the second time in three 2022 races were Christopher Polvoorde, 21, Hemet, Calif. (Trophy Truck Spec, No. 204 Mason-Ford), Daniel Chamlee, 60, Montecito, Calif. (Class 7, No. 700 Ford Ranger), Eli Yee, 48, Tijuana, Mexico (Class 1/2-1600, PRC-VW), Ramon Fernandez, 46, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 5, No. 507 Unlimited Baja Bug), Edward Muncey, 50, San Diego (Baja Challenge, No. BC4 BTC-Subaru), Giovanni Spinali, 56, El Cajon, Calif. (Pro Moto 50, No. 500x Yamaha YZ450FX) and Luis Ernesto Villafana, 39, Mexicali, Mexico (Pro Quad, No. 7a Honda TRX450R).
MORE CLASS WINNERS
Other first-time 2022 SCORE class winners in this race included Brian Parkhouse, 63, Long Beach, Calif. (Class 1, No. 100 Jimco-Chevy), J. David Ruvalcaba, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 10, No. 1009 Alumi Craft-Honda), Mike Cafro, Temecula, Calif. (Pro Moto Open, No. 1876 Polaris RZR Turbo S), Miguel Cortez, San Diego (SCORE Lites, No. 1205 Curry-VW), Kaden Wells, Hurricane, Utah (Pro UTV NA, No. 1995 Polaris RZR XP1000), Randy Emberton, Prescott, Ariz. (Pro UTV Stock, No. 3933 Polaris Turbo S) and Hector Sarabia, Ensenada, Mexico (Class 11, No. 1145, VW Sedan)