TIJUANA, Baja California, Mexico — A pulsating prelude to the spectacular season-ending 50th anniversary of the iconic BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 in November, RPM Racing’s Josh Daniel played it straight and consistent to win the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck title at the internationally-televised Tijuana 21st SCORE Desert Challenge. Round 3 of the four-race SCORE World Desert Championship, the three-day race concluded on Sunday.
Having held over 150 races in Mexico in the last 40-plus years, this is the first time that SCORE has held a race that has both started and finished in Tijuana.
With entries from 15 U.S. States and 14 countries, the majority of the cars, trucks, UTVs, finished their race on Sunday after running the first half on Saturday. Motorcycles, quads and a few car/truck classes raced on Friday in two sessions to open the event.
As a substitute driver for driver of record Justin Matney, co-owner of RPM Racing of Bristol, Tenn., Daniel started fourth in the first half of the elapsed-time race to hold off his teammates to hold the overall lead he earned in Saturday’s first half to earn his first career SCORE Trophy Truck victory. Driving in the No. 4 Geiser Bros-built 4-wheel drive Chevy Rally truck, Daniel, of Vista, Calif., covered the six 23-mile laps (138 miles total in a time of 1 hours, 38 minutes, and 16 seconds to pace the field of 124 starters .
Growing into the most powerful racing team in the desert, RPM drivers swept the SCORE Trophy Truck and a fourth driver won the SCORE TT Legend class.
The legendary BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 celebratory festivities and intense race days will be held Nov. 14-18. The nearly 1,200-mile race will start in Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico and finish n La Paz, Baja California Sur.
The unique-format race was held at a spectator-friendly start/finish line and ‘hot pit’ area located on the southeast outskirts of Tijuana to the east of the popular Rancho Casian area off of Boulevard 2000 (Highway No. 201).
A delighted Daniel said afterwards during the RPM Racing finish line celebration, “We’re here number one. We drove for Justin Matney. It’s his truck, he couldn’t make it this weekend. He’s my partner for the BFGoodrich Tires 50th SCORE Baja 1000 and I’m stoked to be here for RPM Racing and put it together. I had to keep a tight pace with Apdaly. He’s super good, he’s super fast. He’s a champion. He’s a champ for a reason so you just can’t let him run away with it. He had to put three minutes on us today. He could do that, not easily, but he could. I knew that unless he had a problem I wasn’t going to catch him.”
“I knew he was going to run hard. I figured I would, probably, have clean air all day. If I did catch his dust, I was just going to sit there because anybody behind me had to catch us and put time on us. It’s almost impossible to catch anybody here. I knew I just had to sit there and be patient. He didn’t make any mistakes, he did a great job. He couldn’t have done any better. He beat us for today’s half. I had to conserve and not make any mistakes. He drove exactly perfect. He had to make up that time and any more lollygagging by us and he might have done it. It really wasn’t lollygagging. It was intentional. We didn’t want to tear the truck up. It was as smooth as it could be for a really rough course.”
MORE CLASS WINNERS
Among the car, truck and UTV class winners Sunday were: Marc Burnett, Lakeside, Calif. (Pro UTV FI, Can-Am Maverick X3), Kristen Matlock, Alpine, Calif. (Polaris RZR XP4 1000), Noah Ostanik, Carlsbad, Calif. (Class 8, Ford F-150), Cesar Fiscal, Tijuana, Mexico (Class 1/2-1600Romo-VW), Rafael Aguirre, Monterrey, Mexico (SCORE Lites, Foddrill-VW), Elias Hanna, Ensenada, Mexico (Trophy Truck Spec, Chevy 1500), Broc Dickerson, Brawley, Calif. (Class 10, Alumi Craft-Chevy), and Shelby Reid, Apple Valley, Calif. (Class 1, Jefferies-Chevy).
Unique for SCORE, the 21st the SCORE Desert Challenge is using a race format that has all classes racing in five different groups for a total of six laps over a surprisingly rugged 23-mile race course (138 total miles) split into two, three-lap sessions.
The race was filmed to air on a later date as a one-hour special on the El Rey Network as well as syndicated internationally.
RPM’S ROARING LIONS
Finishing second and third on the overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck were Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez, Tecate, Mexico in the No. 1 RPM Racing Chevy Rally Truck and Eduardo ‘Lalo’ Laguna, Mexicali, Mexico, in the No. 9 RPM Racing Chevy Silverado as a substitute driver for Germany’s Armin Schwarz.
Winning the SCORE TT Legend class was Jeff Geiser, Phoenix, as a substitute driver for RPM co-owner Clyde Stacy, in the No. 5 RPM Racing Chevy Silverado. All four of the RPM Racing trucks were built by Geiser Bros of Phoenix.
Running predominately on land owned by prominent developer Grupo Musquis, this year’s 23-mile loop course was extremely beautiful and picturesque but as brutally rugged as any SCORE Baja long course. Around four miles was actually part of last year’s course that started and finished just south of Rosarito Beach. The course ran in a counterclockwise direction with two checkpoints. Checkpoint 1 was at race mile 12.05 and Checkpoint 2 was at race mile 17.8.
Most of the terrain for this race course was on mountains, hills, valleys and local trails. In addition to Grupo Musquis land, the course also ran through areas like La Nopalera, Los Pancho’s and Ejido Mesa Redonda.
WHERE THEY CAME FROM
With 124 official starters, there were entries from 15 U.S. States and 14 countries. Nations were USA, host nation Mexico along with Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland. States with entries so far are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
With less than two months remaining before the historic 50th anniversary race of the iconic BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, the City of Tijuana and the Tijuana tourism groups has given SCORE a multi-year contract that moved this race from nearby Rosarito Beach where it was held last year.
While this is the first time in Tijuana, the SCORE Desert Challenge has been held 20 previous times since it first began in 1995. It was held in Laughlin, Nev., USA, from 1995 through 2012, in Plaster City, Calif., USA, in 2014 and in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico in 2016.
In 1967, the first SCORE Baja 1000 (then called the Mexican 1000) started at the bull ring in Tijuana and the 1995 SCORE Baja 1000 started in the wash near the Hotel Lucerna in Tijuana but no SCORE race has ever finished in Tijuana before this year.
In addition to the two starts in Tijuana, SCORE Baja races have been held numerous times in Ensenada and San Felipe, several times in La Paz, a few times in Mexicali, Santo Tomas, Ojos Negros and Cabo San Lucas, and once each in Loreto and Rosarito Beach.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire, Title Sponsor of this year’s SCORE Baja 1000 and a top sponsor of the 50th SCORE Baja 500 in 2018, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, Axial R/C-Official R/C Vehicle, El Rey Network-Official Television Partner, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, 4 Wheel Parts, The Satellite Phone Store, Satellite Del Norte, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, CETTO Vineyards.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Baja California Sur State Government, Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism, Mexicali Ayuntamiento, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Corporate Helicopters, McKenzie’s Performance Products, Advanced Color Graphics.
Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: XXII Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Tijuana Comite de Turismo and Convenciones, Comite de Marcadotecnia Turistica, Asociacion de Hoteles del Noroeste.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship atwww.SCOREInternational.com.
SCORE MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic Clark, SCORE Media Operations Director
Driver quotes after second half of race — Sunday, Sept. 24
PRO Cars & Trucks
SCORE TROPHY TRUCK
JUSTIN MATNEY, No. 4 (First in class) SUBSTITUTE DRIVER JOSH DANIEL — We’re here number one. We drove for Justin Matney. It’s his truck, he couldn’t make it this weekend. He’s my partner for the 1000 and I’m stoked to be here for RPM and put it together. I had to keep a tight pace with Apdaly. He’s super good, he’s super fast. He’s a champion. He’s a champ for a reason so you just can’t let him run away with it. He had to put three minutes on us today. He could do that, not easily, but he could. I knew that unless he had a problem I wasn’t going to catch him. I knew he was going to run hard. I figured I would, probably, have clean air all day. If I did catch his dust, I was just going to sit there because anybody behind me had to catch us and put time on us. It’s almost impossible to catch anybody here. I knew I just had to sit there and be patient. He didn’t make any mistakes, he did a great job. He couldn’t have done any better. He beat us for the day. I had to conserve and not make any mistakes. He drove exactly perfect. He had to make up that time and any more lollygagging by us and he might have done it. It really wasn’t lollygagging. It was intentional. We didn’t want to tear the truck up. It was as smooth as it could be for a rough course.
CARLOS “APDALY” LOPEZ, No. 1 (Second in class) — (On catching Josh Daniel): We were trying to beat him on time but we knew he had three minutes on us. We made up all that was possible but he won. He’s my teammate and the win is for the team. (On going out first) Yesterday we were stuck in the dust. So today with the clean air, we could play and set our pace. That gave us a big advantage. We did awesome today. We finished 1, 2 and 3 so that’s a perfect for our team. We now know what we need to do at the 1000.
BILLY WILSON, No. 15 (Fifth in class; fastest in Sunday’s segment) — Today was a little tougher, rougher than it was yesterday. Really, we just survive the laps, don’t get a flat tire, don’t make mistakes, just drive consistently. Today was kind of quiet, yesterday we had all the action, we put it up on its side within the first lap. So were able to get back going within the first five minutes. We knew we weren’t first so we were just trying to complete the race.
SCORE TT LEGEND
CLYDE STACEY, 5L SUBSTITUTE DRIVER JEFF GEISER (First in class) — It was an awesome day. We started behind the Trophy Trucks. We had a great run today. There was a lot more silt today, a lot more rocks got turned up. The course was a lot roughter. It’s very technical. We made it around, no flats, no problems. We had a great day and great weekend. Had my daughter (Lindsey) out there with me, trying to teach her the ropes and get her ready for next year. We’re definitely ready for the 1000.
SHELBY REID, No. 168 (First in class) CO-DRIVER DANNY EBBERTS said: Shelby had a great run yesterday. She had a seven-minute cushion so we didn’t have to push too hard. I just had to stay close to the cars in front of me. The first half today we had problems with a tire, I had to cruise the last 10 miles of that lap to keep the tire from coming off. We got to the pit and the pit crew changed the tire quick and they saw that it was a B-lock ring. When we came around for our last lap we stopped and checked all the rings. Between all that we had the Class 10 cars pretty close to us. But, we had a good run. They gave me a perfect car and that one tire was the only issue we had. I didn’t race yesterday so I don’t know much the course changed but it was definitely chewed up, breaking bumps and really rocky. You had to be on your toes the whole time or you end up in a ditch, hit a rock or get a flat. It’s a cool course, real technical. There was a little bit of wind and we were able to get closer to the cars in front of us. The wind helped us some and then we got that flat. We dropped back, but we got close to them again, so the wind did help a little bit. It was still a dusty course. (On winning today) The 1000 is our main goal. We want points but the Baja 1000 win is something I’ve been trying to get for a long time. RPI has done it with the 10 car so, hopefully, Shelby, my brothers and I can carry this momentum into the 1000 and try to get a win there.
BRIAN WILSON, No. 138 (Second in class) — It was a good race. It was tough and dusty and rocky but it was a good race. It was fun. We had no mechanical issues. We, basically, just drove around. Our biggest thing here is to get around safe and play it smart for points. .We came to this race leading the points and it looks like we’ll be leaving this race leading the points, as well. (On whether it sets them up well for the Baja 1000): Absolutely!
AL TORRES, No. 114 (Third in class) — It was very slippery out there. They made the course very soft and slippery. There weren’t too many big holes, but it was slippery. Obviously, you always had to content with the rocks out there. That’s what took us out today. We had two flat tires and that took us out of the race. There are some sharp rocks and tires aren’t indestructable. You hit a rock and it’s over. I didn’t hit any big rocks, it just happened. (On how much time the two flats cost him): I’d say five to seven minutes. We had to stop twice. We had two flats and, then, we had to re-load a spare tire just in case we got a third flat. I’m still happy with the race today. If you’re racing, I’m happy, especially if you finish.
TROPHY TRUCK SPEC
ELIAS HANNA, No. 274 (First in class) — My logistics changed to how the course was going. My truck was working so good that I had to push. It was not me putting pressure on them (Chad Broughton, No. 229). It was just my style, my pace. It was just catching them one-by-one. I started seventh and when I was behind Chad I knew exactly where I was and it wasn’t pushing extra. I was just having fun out there.
BRIAN GOLDSTEIN, No. 229 (Second in class) — It was super rough out there, super dusty but no flats. BF Goodrich came in and we did quite well. We’re ready for the Baja 1000. This puts us second off the line.
CHAD BROUGHTON, No. 200 (Third in class) – (On whether he was trying to catch Elias Hanna): Our strategy was to try and beat everyone else. He had like a seven-minute lead after yesterday. We were starting first today and I was just trying to save the tires the first two laps and then go for it on the third lap and hope everyone stayed behind me. Everyone did and I think on time we were very close. It was nice to have clean air out there today.
BROC DICKERSON, No. 1023 (First in class) — It was fun, roughter than yesterday. Other than that, we had a lot of clean air today. When we’d get by cars we’d have a big section to get on the gas and try and catch the next one. We had another big issue with dust but other than that it was a good race. We didn’t have that much trouble going around people. We didn’t hit one single car to pass them. They all just moved over. All in all, it was a perfect race.
RAFAEL NAVARRO, IV, No. 1000 (Second in class) — Coming from yesterday’s course, today it was pretty beaten up. The unlimited trucks made it quite interesting. So much of the bedrock that was underneath a small layer of dirt was all chunked up. The bedrock was completely exposed. It felt like I had no suspension up front. It was just so rough. We were just trying to get through it. That was one of the things we had an issue with because of the rocks. We tagged a rock and had a slow leak. We developed a slow leak and had to change that tire. That gave us some down time. It was just managing the environment from there. We dropped back in our heat so we had no dust, clear running. It was just tough, brutal. We made it through so we’re excited. I’m not surprised there were so many flats out there. There was just so much exposed rocks. You’r trying to push and it’s hard to get a brace on your pace is and what the competitions pace is with how rough the course is. It felt like we were going so slow. I think we were doing decent on our lap times. We just had that flat. It’s just one of those things, especially on these short course races. You can lose focus for even one second or it’s going to bite you in the dust. That’s really extremely difficult when you’re getting beaten up in the car and you’re trying to concentrate. It’s probably one of the hardest things. You don’t get any of this kind of terrain when you’re doing tdhe longer races. (On whether this helped prepare him for the Baja 1000): I think we did like 70-some miles each day and it felt like a thousand so I feel like if the car made it through this weekend I think we’re going to be OK for the 1000.
REINALDO VARELA, No. 1092 (Third in class) –It was a very tough race, tough terrain, very difficult. .We are not used to racing on this kind of terrain. But, everything was fine. We finished the two days so it’s good points for the championship. We had no mechanical problems or no tire punctures. It was a clean race for us. I think we leave here in third or fourth place in the points standings so the Baja 1000 is going to be a very important race for us. If we finish, we might have a chance to move up to second or third and it’s a little far but maybe first place for the championship. We’re definitely going for the 1000 and we’re already preparing.
CODY REID, No. 1068 (Fourth in class) — Today it was really dusty. We were pretty much in dust from lap one chasing our competitor Chip Prescott (No. 1032). We just played it spart, pushed where we could through his dust and stayed right behind him. We were finally able to make a move on the last lap and got him about five miles from the finish line and pushed itd through to him. We had one little mistake on the first lap. We got blinded by the oncoming traffic where the two courses run together. It caused us to hit the fence right there. Other than that, we just wheeled it as hard as we could all day. It was a good day. No issues whatsoever besides one driver error.
NOAH OSTANIK, No. 844 (First in class) – CO-DRIVER DRIVER DAVID DINSMORE said: It was a good day, nice and smooth. Didn’t have too much dust. I had to pass a couple guys. These BFG tires worked awesome, no flat tires. That’s the biggest help right there going through those rocks, having those tires on there. OSTANIK, who drove on Saturday said: Great run. Two days was a lot of fun. We just had a great time and it’s a great tuneup, ready for the 1000 now. It was an awesome time.
CLASS ½ 1600
CESAR FISCAL, No. 1644 (First in class) — It was very dusty out there starting behind all the UTV’s. Yesterday and today we started all the way in the back but we did a pretty good job on the GPS and here we are. We had no problems, everything went good, no flats or anything wrong out there. We did a clean race and it was a great race for us.
ERIC PAVOLKA, No. 1625 (Second in class) — It was rough out there. It was a really good day, I didn’t have any issues. It was just one of those days where everything clicked together. My co-driver called out everything perfectly. I just didn’t have any mistakes. It was great. Today i got the chance that I didn’t get yesterday because I got a flat in the dust right off the get-go. We made some adjustments to the car and today I just cruised it. Everything was flawless today, the engine, the tranny, everything was just flawless. The car held together very well. Yesterday was not my day. I was very frustrated but today was my day. I’m happy. (On what this means to him) It means that I’m old and I can drive a car. We’re going to wait and see on the 1000, whether we have the resources. We’ve got the talent and the car. We’ll see, we might enter the 1000.
OSCAR ALVAREZ, No. 1603 (Third in class) — The race was very challenging and it was a heck of a lot of fun out there. Yesterday we had an issue with a flat and today we tried to avoid that and we did. I think we ended up in third place and we’re looking forward to the next one.
RAFAEL AGUIRRE, No. 1222 (First in class) — It was an awesome race for us. The course today was twice as bad as yesterday with all the rocky parts and the dust. It made it very hard to pass any of the other vehicles out there. We would like to race the Baja 1000 to LaPaz. It would be a dream come true to win the 1000.
JAVIER BUELNA, No. 1205 — (Second in class) SUBSTITUTE DRIVER LUIVAN VOELKER said: The secret to today’s success was being conservative. The dust was too much. A win here would make our owner very happy and as well as the employees and the mechanic.
MARK McNEIL, No. 501 (First in class) — CO-DRIVER PERRY McNEIL SAID: (On whether he was satisfied with his run) Yeah, we had a flat out there. The big trucks left one hell of a mess out there. It was incredible. I went out there last night, almost after dark, and I’m glad I did. I knew what to expect this morning because it was a totally different race course this morning from yesterday morning. There were ruts all over the place so I’m not surprised I had a flat. There were so many rocks but I didn’t even see what I hit. This is a rock crawler race, like five miles of it that are for rock crawlers. Other than that, I liked the race course and it’s close to home. I thought it was awesome. This is a good shakedown for the Baja 1000.
PRO UTV FI
MARC BURNETT, No. 2905 (First in class) — It (the axel) went bad on the first lap. We knew it was bad on the first lap but we didn’t want to say anything to our pit crew. We didn’t want to announce it to everyone out there in the pits because others were coming up on us. We just kind of kept it quiet. We had no four-wheel drive and that was in the right front axel. There was another problem in the rear too, but we made it here — Can-Am, number one. (On what it means to have his first win for Can-Am) It means a lot.It’s so emotional for us. We’ve had so many close calls. We lost at the San Felipe 250 because we ran out of fuel five miles from the and I broke my wrist. It was pretty emotional for that and just getting here was a big deal for us. To get the win was awesome. The course definitely changed a lot from yesterday to today. It was a lot more rocky, a lot more holes in the ground, a lot of debris out there from so much happening to other people’s cars because they were going so fast. .For the 1000, we know there a lot of things we need to fix, but we’re getting there. We won this race but we still have a lot of work to do. I’m pumped for the 1000. I’m going to race ironman (solo) for the Baja 1000. I’ll probably be the only one in the UTV class. It’ll be the last time I ironman a race. I’m looking forward to it and I would love to get a win in ironman because it would be a big story out there. It would be quite a way to go out.
RHYS MILLEN, No. 2966 (Second in class) — We had a great second day. We had a fantastic first lap, moving from eighth on the road up to fourth. Unfortunately, on the rocky, crawling section we got a flat tire and dropped back. We changed the tire in the pit. We went back out in the same place and got another flat tire. We need to investigate and see what’s going on there, see if it’s wheel failure, tire failure or tire pressure. The chassis worked incredibly well. . It was a fun, challenging course, very dusty. Next time maybe I’ll pay to bring a water truck down here. I love racing down here in Baja. I think with the combined times of yesterday and today we’ve got enough to take second overall for the weekend. That would give us second starting spot for the Baja 1000 and that was really our goal coming down here, to get a top three.
KRISTEN MATLOCK, No. 1954 (First in class) — It was awesome out there today. I got to start first off the line today with the inverted start from yesterday and had very little dust for the first lap and a half. I just tried to set the fastest possible lap I could set. Then I finally caught the dust and had to slow down. It was a great race all the way through. Something was happening in the front end so I pulled into the pit after my second lap just to make sure nothing major was happening. It all checked out fine so I just kept going. It’s good.
MARK JOHNSON, No. 719 (First in class) — (On whether he was satisfied with your run) You learn every time you go out. I haven’t had a lot of patience in the past and I’m learning patience. I got held up a couple of times, stalled on some hills with UTV’s that didn’t make it or they were backing down and Iu had no place to go. You feel like that person is breathing down your neck when they’re going backwards instead of forward you’re always concerned. The course was burned in better. You could carry more speed. The wind helped tremendously today. It made it easier to see. You just have to be more patient and be more aware of passing zones. It’s hard to pass out here because it was tight. No excuses, though. It was fun, the car held together well and I’m looking forward to going to the Baja 1000. Racing in Baja is much different than racing in the states. We ran all three races down here this year because we haven’t raced down here for quite a few years.