TIJUANA, Baja California, Mexico — Veteran SoCal desert racer and popular action sports television announcer Cameron Steele climbed to the top of the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck class by winning this week’s special format, internationally-televised Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge Sunday.
The unique, two-day event was Round 3 of the four-race 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship. The season-finale will be the 51st SCORE Baja 1000. The Granddaddy of all Desert Races will be held Nov. 14-18, starting and finishing in Ensenada, Mexico.
After leading the first two of four laps on Saturday in the elapsed-time race, Steele, 50, of San Clemente, Calif., captured his first career SCORE Trophy Race win in a time of three hours, 21 minutes, 36 seconds while averaging 40.12 miles per hour over 134.8 race milesin his No. 16 Monster Energy Desert Assassins Chevy Silverado.
Steele posted consistently solid lap times Saturday of 49 minutes, 37 seconds and 50:15. His first lap time on Saturday was the fastest lap time for any vehicle in the race. On Sunday he covered the rutted out and more challenging course with lap times of 51:24 and 50:19.
Racing concluded Sunday at Rancho Casian on the southeast outskirts of Tijuana. The event featured two days of racing scored as one race. The race route was a 33.7-mile loop course through the challenging hills in the area that each class ran two laps each day for four total laps and 134.8 total race miles. The classes were split into three groups, running one session each day to determine the final results.
There were 161 official starters racing in classes for Pro and Sportsman cars, trucks, UTVs, motorcycles and quads. There were 96 official finishers in the race for a finishing rate of 59.6 percent. The impressive total of 161 starters was the eighth-most in the 22 times this race has been held.
SCORE Trophy Truck is celebrating its 25th year as the featured SCORE racing division for high-tech, 950 horsepower unlimited custom trucks.
Peacefully joyful at the finish line waiting to see if he had won a SCORE Trophy Truck race for the first time, commented, “It was dirty out there, but we are sitting pretty right now. We started in the back of the pack today so it was very hard to pass SCORE Trophy Trucks because of the dust. Our timing shows us winning but I am not sure. I actually started racing in SCORE Trophy Truck in 2005 and haven’t won one yet so I hope today is it. We are out there racing for those who have passed on. I recently lost my Dad and I think of him often when I am out there racing. Thankful to God who keeps us all safe as we race and I hope my Mom is watching (live streaming) from home. For sure I want to say thank you to everybody who makes it possible for us to race”.
Justin Morgan of El Cajon, Calif. put in consistent lap times for two days to take his third straight SCORE Baja motorcycle victory as well as his own Pro Moto Unlimited class with an overall time for the four 33.7-mile laps 3:34:13 with an average speed of 37.76 mph. Morgan, who teams with Mark Samuels, Yucca Valley, Calif. and the pair has won both prior SCORE Baja races this year, rode solo both Saturday and Sunday at this race.
Morgan ran lap times of 50:11 and 50:24 on Saturday on his No. 7x Honda CRF450X. With the course deterioration and fog during his group’s run, he turned in slower but fast enough lap times on Sunday of 57:21 and 55:39.
Following his third straight SCORE Baja race win in 2018, Morgan reported, “The course was extremely dusty and so we just stayed steady. The key was survival today. The wet fog during our group this morning was a game changer from yesterday. It was 80 percent fog and dust which was like floating mud. I had to try to clean my goggles with my shirt, but it was only good for about 50 ft. We are excited to be the season point leader right now heading to the season finale at the SCORE Baja 1000.”
PRO UTV WINNERS
Leading the Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) class which had a race-high 19 starters and the overall UTV winner was Las Vegas’ Wes Miller. Miller was fastest both days and he had a winning time of 3:47:40 in his No. 2989 Polaris RZR XP Turbo.
Topping the field in the Pro UTV NA (Naturally Aspirated) class was 19-year old rookie SCORE racer Kaden Wells, St. George, Utah, Polaris RZR XP1000 in 3:49:23, just 31 seconds behind Millen in the race for the overall UTV title.
A total of six racers have won their class in each of the three grueling races held so far in 2018. The first two were run over race-record long courses for each event
The race-record course length for the season-opening 32nd SCORE San Felipe 250 was 319 miles and for the BFGoodrich Tires 50th SCORE Baja 500 the race-record course was 542.12 miles long. The recently-concluded 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge was a very tough 134.8-miles, split into two days of two-laps each over a rugged 33.7-mile course.
Also 3-0 to lead their respective class point standings in the 4-wheel vehicle classes are Vincent Munoz, Yucaipa, Calif. (Class 8, No. 894 Ford Ranger) and Jesus Mendez Jr, Mexicali, Mexico (Pro UTV UNLTD, No. 1872 Can-Am X3 XRS).
Besides Morgan/Samuels, the other motorcycle class winners who are undefeated in 2018 with identical 3-0 records, the other four Pro moto racers are teams led by Jano Montoya, Winter Garden, Fla. (Peru) (Pro Moto 40, No. 400x KTM 450EXCF), Giovanni Spinali, El Cajon, Calif. (Pro Moto 50, No. 510x Yamaha YZ450FX) and Guy Laycraft, Canada (Pro Moto 60, No. 649x Honda CRF450X).
OTHER CLASS WINNERS
Other car/truck/utv class winners besides Steele, Munoz and Mendez Jr at the 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge included: SCORE TT Legend – No. 12L Gustavo Vildosola Sr, Mexicali, Mexico/Scott Bailey, Riverside, Calif. Chevy Silverado (builder-ID Designs); Trophy Truck Spec – No. 295 William Hedrick Jr, Vicente Guerrero, Mexico, Geiser-Chevy; Class 1 – No. 153 Brad Wilson, Long Beach, Calif. Jimco-Chevy; Class 10 – No. 1023 Broc Dickerson, Brawley, Calif., Alumi Craft-Chevy; SCORE Lites – No. 1258 Jeremy Davis, Chino Hills, Calif., Lothringer-VW, Class 1/2-1600 – Cesar Fiscal, Tijuana, Mexico, Romo-VW, Class 7 – Dan Chamlee, Montecito, Calif., Ford Ranger and Class 5-1600 – Cesar Iniguez, Mexicali, Mexico, VW Baja Bug.
Among the other motorcycle class winners the race besides Morgan, were Jose Carrasco, Rosarito Beach, Mexico (Pro Moto Ironman, KTM 450EXCF), Ryan Liebelt, Reedley, Calif. (Pro Moto 30, Yamaha WR450X), Philip Jaramillo, Tijuana, Mexico (Pro Moto Limited, KTM 350XCF), Spinali and Laycraft.
Earning his second win of the season in the Pro Quad class was Said Sanchez, Tijuana, Mexico (Pro Quad, Honda TRX450R).
WHERE THEY CAME FROM
With 161 official starters, there were racers from 22 U.S. States and six countries. Nations are USA, host country Mexico, Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Peru. States with racers are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.
Starting and finishing adjacent to Rancho Casian in Southeast Tijuana, the race route traveled in a counterclockwise direction. The 33.7 tough terrain miles were designed and put together by SCORE Race Director Jose A. Grijalva. It covered much of the land used in last year’s 23.4-mile loop, especially from Rancho San Vicente (where the race started last year), considered the roughest section of the course.
There were two full-stop checkpoints on the course. Checkpoint No. 1 was at race-mile 16.1 and Checkpoint 2 was at race-mile 25.8.
The hot pit area for competitors was in the area around race-mile 3.6.
Heading back to Rancho Casian, the race course went through the popular Rumorosita, a very popular area that is very rocky and rough.
The final sprint of several miles back into Rancho Casian at the end of each lap was the fastest section of the race course.
While this was the second time in Tijuana, the SCORE Desert Challenge has been held 22 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, in Rosarito Beach, Baja California, Mexico in 2016 and in Tijuana in 2017 and 2018.
Hotel Lucerna Tijuana on Avenida Paseo de los Heroes in the Zona Rio area of Tijuana was the official event hotel and the hospitality group (Lucerna Hotels & Resorts) is the SCORE Official Hotel for the SCORE World Desert Championship.
2018 REMAINING SCHEDULE
51st SCORE Baja 1000, Nov.14-18, Ensenada, Mexico
Here is the four-race 2019 SCORE World Desert Championship and for the fourth consecutive year all races are being held in Baja California, Mexico:
33rd SCORE San Felipe 250, April 3-7, San Felipe, Mexico
51st SCORE Baja 500, May 29-June 2, Ensenada, Mexico
The 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship airs domestically on the El Rey Network and internationally through syndication and ESPN International.
El Rey Network is a 24-hour, English-language lifestyle network and is available in 45 million homes across the country through cable and OTT providers and via satellite on DirecTV Channel 341 and Dish Network Channel 253. For more information on how to watch El Rey visit http://elreynetwork.com.
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and official race title sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel, Lucerna Hotels & Resorts-Official Hotel and official race title sponsor, 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.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Mexicali Ayuntamiento, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Corporate Helicopters, McKenzie’s Performance Products, Advanced Color Graphics.
Lucerna Hotels & Resorts 22nd Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: XXII Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California State Secretary of Tourism, Comite de Turismo and Convenciones, Comite de Marcadotecnia Turistica, Lucerna Hotels and Resorts, Asociacion de Hoteles del Noroeste.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.
Racer quotes after second half of race — Sunday, Sept. 23
PRO Cars, Trucks & UTVs
SCORE TROPHY TRUCK
CAMERON STEEL, No. 16 (First Overall, First in Class)– It was dirty out there. But I think we are sitting pretty right now. We started in the back of the pack today so it was very hard to pass Trucks due to the dust. Our timing shows us winning but I am not sure. I actually started racing SCORE in 2005 and haven’t one yet so I hope today is it. We are out there racing for those who have passed on. I recently lost my Dad and I think of him often when I am out there racing. Thankful to God who keeps us all safe as we race and I hope my Mom is watching from Home. For sure want to say Thank you to all who make this possible.
SCORE TT LEGEND
GUSTAVO VILDOSOLA, No. 12L (First in Class)—CO DRIVER SCOTT BAILEY SAID: The course was very rough today but we had awesome Toyo Tires and my Kroyer Engine had no complaints it was awesome all day. Gustavo drove yesterday and after today we are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
BRAD WILSON, No. 153 (First in Class)— CO DRIVER JUSTIN MUNYON SAID: It was gnarly and rough all day. We were like a Freight Train then it a bottleneck. We got a flat tire in the Canyon, got out and changed it. Brad Wilson did an awesome job yesterday and now onto the SCORE Baja 1000.
TROPHY TRUCK SPEC
SARA PRICE, No. 2004 (Second in Class)—This was our best finish ever but we aren’t sure where we are at with adjusted time. We were second yesterday and second today so it was a great effort both days. Erica was on point all weekend yelling out the turns. Elias Hanna is an incredible talent and we were following him but we got into a bottleneck and got passed. We had no flats today and the machine was flawless. If you made a mistake today you weren’t correcting it anytime soon. We are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000 with our entire RPM Team.
BROC DICKERSON, No. 1023 (First in Class)—Today was different than yesterday with the big Trucks making it rough. We had some time and got in clean air but then Winslow was coming so we knew we had to go. We are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000 and see how that goes. Just want to be sure and thank my Dad, Mom and Sister who have supported me thru all I do.
MATT WINSLOW (DOR-TODD WINSLOW) No. 1081 (Second in Class)—The course was fun today and I enjoyed it. We really only overcooked a corner once and had to back it down, but it was good.
CHASE WARREN, No. 1008 (Ninth in Class)—Much better today than yesterday. We got stuck yesterday early and then lapped traffic was an issue with the dust. We are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000 but with yesterday it hurt our starting place a little but today helped.
VINCENT MUNOZ, No. 894 (First in Class)—Today was much better for us because yesterday we had a one flat. But today our BFG’s were the Best and it went smooth. We are first in points for Class 8 so we are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
CLASS 1/2 1600
CESAR FISCAL, No. 1644 (First in Class)—We had a much better race today. Yesterday we rolled over so today was a good day. Due to our points right now I am not planning on running the SCORE Baja 1000 but you never know.
Pro UTV FI
WES MILLER, No. 2989 (First in Class)—We knew we had about a minute gap with Rhys Millen so it was on. The Track was rough with the Trucks chewing up the dirt yesterday. We had to take care of the car. Now I think this will be my 25th SCORE Baja 1000 this year and I am ready to go for it now.
RHYS MILLEN, No. 2966 (Second in Class)—We made up time we needed from yesterday but then couldn’t get past a dust bowl for the win. Congratulations to Wes Miller on his win with the chassis. This Car was stupid fast and now we are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
BRANDON SCHULER, No. 2919 (Fourth in Class)—The Trucks with their Big Tires vs our Small Tires made for new trenches today. But we ready now for the SCORE Baja 1000 after winning in 2017 we are going back to defend that.
KADEN WELLS, No. 1995 (First in Class)— We had a good race today but there were lots of rocks and holes. Yesterday we crossed the line with a 50 second difference but with adjusted time didn’t win. Today we are winners. Now we have to complete some repairs to get ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
Pro UTV Unlimited
JESUS MENDEZ JR, No. 1872 (First in Class)—This was our first time at a SCORE DESERT RACE and it was very technical and rough. The challenge was that if you got close to a another Competitor then they would shut up rocks. Every mile wanted more and more of you. But it was a great race and we will prepare now for the SCORE Baja 1000.
VIRY FELIX, No. 1104 (First in Class)—Yesterday I drove and today I was the Co Driver. Today was a tough track with more rocks and silt but that’s I what love. This is the challenge and that’s what we like to do, so it was a good day. Cisco Bio did a great job today and now we will get ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
ERIC SOLORZANO, No. 1111 (Second in Class)— Much rougher today with the dust. We had to be smart and have fun. We didn’t have any problems today and now we are ready to prepare for the SCORE Baja 1000.
MARIO VAQUEZ, No. 1113 (Third in Class)— I drove both days and today the rocks and silt have changed making it more difficult but we had a good run. My BFG Tires are the best. We are ready now to Pre Run for the SCORE Baja 1000.
PRO Motorcycles & Quads
PRO MOTO UNLIMITED
JUSTIN MORGAN, No. 7x (First in Class)— The course was extremely dusty and so we just stayed steady. The key was survival today. The wet fog was a game changer from yesterday. It was 80% fog and dust which was like floating mud. I had to try to clean my goggles with my shirt, gloves and at a their shirt but it was only good for about 50 ft. We are excited to be the points leader right now.
SANTIAGO CREEL, No. 66x (Second in Class)— CO DRIVER BRANDON PRIETO SAID: Today was completely different than yesterday. It was survival mode so we had to make smart passes. But we kept it on 2 wheels and did fine. The silt was nasty and with the rocks you couldn’t see them, but we are happy with the results for today.
NIC GARVIN, No. 30x (Fourth in Class)— The track was spun up from the Trucks yesterday but luckily I have a great teammate in Jacob Argabright. The speed was probley 4 to 5 miles slower today. CO DRIVER JACOB ARGABRIGHT SAID: I had a blast for my first time being here. I like it the rougher, more gnarly the better. I could only wear my googles for about 5 miles and I had two pairs. I took them off and got a full face of Silt as you can see.
PRO MOTO LIMITED
PHILIP JARAMILLO, No. 106x (First in Class)— The Track was full of dust and rocks today with no Googles due to the fog made it very complicated. But we had no accidents and we did well on our time. CO DRIVER WILLY GAZIOLA SAID: started the race and it was very very tough because of the fog you were racing blind. Now we are ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.
SANTIAGO CREEL, No. 100x (Second in Class) – Yesterday was rough but the SCORE Trophy Trucks left the Track even more tore up today. With the fog and the hidden rock in the silt it was a tough ride. Yesterday my CO DRIVER ALBERTO HEREDA was injured at Mile 12 so I had to ride solo today. I am very happy with my myself today and ready for the SCORE Baja 1000. This is our warmup for that. We will have brand new bikes for that race and we are ready for another Win!
PRO MOTO 30
RYAN LIEBELT, No. 300 x (First in Class)– CO DRIVER ANDREW PUCKETT SAID: It was tough to see so I had to take my googles off after 5 miles. It was fun if you wanted it to be. Our Yamaha bike is Awesome and so was the suspension. Ryan thank you for this we love being here. Getting ready for the SCORE Baja 500 with 5 to 6 guys and we are looking for a repeat. Today we made a 3peat with the SCORE Tijuana Desert Challenge. Being the leader going into round 4 takes the pressure off and that’s awesome.
PRO MOTO 40
JANO MONTOYA, No, 400x (First in Class)— Increased fog made today completely different than yesterday. The rocks and dust made it very unsteady but this is what Baja is all about. The Trucks changed the Track so much yesterday, but we had fun. We are ready to Pre Run right now for the SCORE Baja 1000.
PRO MOTO 50
GIOVANNI SPINALI, No. 510x (First in Class)— CO DRIVER TROY PEARCE SAID: Today was brutal and 100 times different than yesterday. I think they grew rocks overnight. We couldn’t see and it was a race of survival. CO DRIVER JOHN GRIFFIN SAID: I drove the 1st loop and it was incredibly wet. I thought the sun would burn off like yesterday but it didn’t happen. We finished first yesterday and finished first today so we are ready now for the SCORE Baja 1000.
PRO MOTO IRONMAN
JOSE CARRASCO, No. 721x (First in Class)–This Race was so technical and with the weather, mist and dust it was a challenge but an Awesome course. My KTM 450 was awesome and suspension was getting thru the course. My Flow Vision Googles worked great on the first lap but had to take them off for the 2nd lap as did many. We had a clean race but as you can see I am all dusty. Thank you to SCORE for putting on these crazy fun events and especially in my backyard here in Baja.
LIZ KARCZ, No. 722x (Third in Class)– Today was much harder with the silt. It was a race of survival. I did go down twice in the 1st loop and it is very hard to get the bike up in the silt but here I am and each day getting ready for the SCORE Baja 1000 both mentally and physically.
PRO MOTO 60
GUY LAYCRAFT, No 649x (First in Class)– CO DRIVER DAVID POTTS: Yesterday was bad but today was insane. We saw what to expect from the Trucks yesterday. Guy wears glasses buy had to take them off and then googles came off so it was a challenge to see for sure. Now we ran the 250, 500 and ready for the SCORE Baja 1000. This was a lot of trail riding and that’s our forte so have an awesome team ready to go.
SAID SANCHEZ, No. 1a (First in Class)– We had a very fast bike today and it was crazy with the mist. The challenge in the changing climate made it tough today. But we are going to go to the SCORE Baja 1000 and defend our Championship.
JUAN SANCHEZ, No. 15a (Second in Class)– CO DRIVER EDGAR MORENO SAID: Today was good but very rough. The moisture and fog was a challenge today. So we couldn’t wear our googles and I see that most riders don’t have them on. So that made it very hard to see. Yesterday was not good as we damaged our Transmission. We are excited for the SCORE Baja 1000 where we will have a first time appearance of a team of four riders for our second bike.