2012 Baja Mil Race Reports
I thought I'd open a thread for race reports from the 1000 and begin with one of my favorite people: Bob Bell.
The following is what happened to our team. We really thought this was our year. I will also post Robby's race report, and Henge's when he finishes it.
Plus, if you raced this year and stopped at the Baja Pits in El Arco (mile 500) then I may have some photographs of you as we had alot of time on our hands after Destry came through.
The Story of the 1000 From The Well
Bob and Robby Bell after the 2012 Baja 500
Well the Baja 1000 didn't end the way we had hoped. A DNF is a bitter pill to swallow, and it's something that really leaves a hole in your gut. A quick break down of what happened is as follows.
We started 7th and quickly moved up to 3rd. Through all the mountains we were right in the dust of the leading KTM, but were unable to push through it. Once we hit the desert, We closed in and began challenging for the lead. But as this was going on, Honda swooped by both our teams and took the lead. By San Felipe, we were into second, and chasing the lead Honda. By the time we were at 350 miles, we were approx. 8 minutes back. For the next 250 miles we moved closer, and got through to mile 585 approx. 6 minutes down. We did a full service and put the lights on, we were 9 minutes down to the lead, and had approx. 13 minutes on 3rd.
When the night time came, we began closing in. By mile 858, we were only 2 minutes behind and had 23 minutes on 3rd.. One last full pit and we were 4 minutes 20 seconds back. Over the next 100 miles, we pulled to within just over 1 minute back and closing fast. At mile 990, we were only down by 15 seconds, and moving in for the pass. At mile 995, our bike came to a stop.
A bearing keeper screw backed out. It went through the motor and caused enough damage to render it unrepairable. We would have had to replace the motor, which is against SCORE rules. In all the years that we have been racing and winning in Baja, we have never had this type of failure. The only thing I can say is that It was not a broken or failed part. The Kawasakis have been unbelievably reliable. Any one that knows me well enough I'm sure knows I've already over analyzed the problem and guarantee this will NEVER happen again. Just like when you get a stick through a radiator and DNF a race, the next race you have more protection in that area to prevent that.
THR Motorsports is a great team to be a part of and has given everything necessary to run up against heavily funded factory teams and beat them. With 127 miles to go, and being, by far, the fastest team at night, this race was well within our grasp to win.
Everything we tested and planned for this race worked flawless.
The Prerunning went without a hitch
The engine mapping worked great
The motor burned almost no oil
The coolant was still right at the cap
Our tire and air filter strategy worked perfect
The lights worked great, we were the fastest team at night
Our pits were spot on
With all the knowledge we've gotten from this first full year back in Baja, we will start next year much stronger and completely prepared.
I have to give a big shout out to everyone who supported us.
FMF for their amazing exhaust systems. The performance was awesome, and the silencer still had plenty of packing after 1000 miles
IMS for getting us tanks giving us the mileage we need and great foot pegs.
BRP for the best chain sliders and guides. The wear was exactly what we needed and the triple clamps worked great as always
Kalgard lubricants the best oil period
GPR for a great stabilizer. Thanks for getting it working so perfect
VP Race Fuel wouldn't run anything else
LAPC for their great pistons
DT1 air filters. Through all prerunning and the race, perfect performance
ZipTy Racing great products and quick wheel change parts
Dunlop Tires worked great and really extended our pit stops
Renthal sprockets, grips, and handlebars
RK/Excel chains and A60 rims
Works Connection Perches
Hinson clutch parts
Baja Designs lights
THR Motorsports, Hoosier Precision Machining These are the guys that make this team happen. Thanks to Rob Sims and Scott Jacobson for their passion and desire to have a top level off road race team.
Precision Concepts They all play a huge part in the success of the team
The riders who had the speed to win
Also thanks to Ty Renshaw for the tireless hours he puts in prepping pit equipment, building prerunners, and modifying the light set up to work for our needs. We have to run one of our lights with a battery, and his design allows us to change a battery as fast as you can put fuel in the bike. Nice !
Phil Valdez for prepping another great race bike.
Rich Barrows for another great pit and race support book
All the people who helped in the pits, and Baja Pits for being so helpful and professional.
We still have a few more races this year. David Pearson will be looking to clinch the BITD title this weekend, and Robby will be going after some Big 6 titles.
Again, thanks for all the continued support. We will be relentless in our pursuit to over come this disappointment and get back to winning.
Here is Robby Bell's Race Report
IMHO, this is probably the best moto race report I've read. And it's also the most balanced - more so than the moto-journailsts I think. Scotty Bloom's FB pages have all this and more.
Here it is if you haven't seen it: "THE" single BEST piece of moto-journalism ever inked about a BAJA 1000 race- straight from the mouth of one of the greatest athletes to ever ride a motorcycle- Mr. Robby Bell speaks:
"There’s no denying this was the most anticipated Baja 1000 ever as far as the Open Pro motorcycle division was concerned. With all of the advances in social media and the abundance of cameras capturing footage north and south of the border, the build up was front and center and fans worldwide were sizing up the teams, discussing their favorite riders and putting odds on the outcome. Popular opinion seemed to be that the KTM team possessed the most speed among their ranks between Mike Brown, Kurt Caselli, Quinn Cody and local favorite Ivan Ramirez. Many people put the Kawasaki team of myself, David Pearson, Steve Hengeveld and Destry Abbott pretty close to the orange team in speed, but saw the smaller budget and lack of pit presence as a big hurdle to overcome in a Baja 1000 that would span the peninsula. When people spoke of the Honda team (Colton Udall, David Kamo and Timmy Weigand), the most common statements centered on the fact that their program, preparation and experience were their strengths and they would be likely to capitalize on any mistakes the other two teams might make. But as with everything that happens in Baja, the outcome would be anything but predictable and once the clock hit 6:30am on Thursday, it was time to let the controlled chaos begin.
The scene at the starting line was quite typical of any SCORE race starting in Ensenada: the media grabbing a few last minute interviews, riders giving each other the customary thumbs up and “be safe out there” signals, fans leaning out over the barriers that line the edges of the streets, striving to get their final glimpses and pictures of the bikes before they would begin their 1120-mile assault on the demanding Baja terrain. The 5x KTM team would start a minute and a half ahead of me with Ivan taking the first forty miles. From there Mike Brown would hop on and take the bike around two hundred forty miles through San Felipe to Puertecitos where Ivan would remount and continue through the rest of my section before handing the bike off to Kurt further down the peninsula. I would be riding the first three hundred fifty mile of the race to El Crucero before passing the bike to Destry, and Colton (starting a minute and a half behind me on the 1X Honda) would mirror my section before handing over responsibility to David Kamo.
I felt confident on the line and as the bikes started revving up I had a wave of adrenaline pulse through my body; I was ready to get out on course and let it all play out. The green flag flew and I set out hard, aiming to pass the riders between the KTM and myself as quickly as possible. I rapidly made my way into fifth and as the racecourse wound through the outskirts of Ensenada I was soon able to make a second pass into fourth position. I had made a goal of reaching at least third position before the course left the city limits and hit a little dustier terrain and with a couple miles to spare I made my way into third. From there the markers lead us through Ojos Negros, one of my favorite sections in all of Baja. At this point Mark Samuels, on the 3X Honda, was leading the race ahead of Mike Brown (who had just mounted the KTM), myself, and Colton just a little ways behind me. I felt amazing through this section, the only thing limiting my speed was the hanging morning dust, but I was closing on the leaders and putting some time on the Honda behind; it was all going according to plan.
Just over 100 miles into the race and the unforgiving Baja mistress took her first casualty as Samuels ran out of gas before he could reach his pit; such an unfortunate turn for Mark as he was riding well and showing he had the speed to run up front. This did, however, work out well for myself and Brown as we now owned the first two spots and through our first lengthy highway section I could see him just 15 seconds up the road. We turned toward Borrego and hit our first stretch of whoops and that’s when my race took a turn that I wouldn’t be able to recover from. Normally I enjoy the whoops in San Felipe, I ride light on the bike and work with my machine as it skips from whoop-top to whoop-top, but this time it was different…I was struggling. I couldn’t get a good rhythm, and the more I tried to push the pace, the more out of shape I would get, the tighter I’d become. This truly showed as I was leaving pit three and the course turned onto the power line road, a five-mile stretch of rolling car whoops. As I left the pit, I looked back to see that Colton had caught me and by the time I had gotten up to speed he was just behind me. I tried to lift my pace, but again I was found wanting and Colton was able to find another gear and straight up pass me. I didn’t want to accept it, but I couldn’t push any harder without feeling like I was risking throwing the bike away and decided to keep my pace and get the bike to Destry safely.
As the course wound through Borrego towards San Felipe, line selection came into play and unfortunately for me, Brown was taking my line. I was right in his dust and knew I had more speed than he did, but I couldn’t punch through the wall in front of me. Meanwhile, Colton was in a line out to the left and not only did he pass for the lead, he was pulling time. I continued to battle with Brown through San Felipe as we went back and forth a few times; it wasn’t until the course turned onto Old Puertecitos Road and the KTM stopped for a rear wheel that I was finally able to make the pass stick and by the time I would hand the bike off they’d be a further five minutes behind. I had already lost about four minutes to Colton by the time I’d finally laid claim to second place, and with the next twenty miles being some of the roughest in Baja, mixed with my current form on the bike, the odds weren’t looking good for me to cut back into this lead. Again I just couldn’t seem to find my flow on the bike, I was grazing rocks I’d normally miss and having a few heart in mouth moments that would take energy and time to recover from. By the time I had finally reached the long stretch of pavement that followed I’d lost another four minutes and now found myself over eight minutes behind the lead. In the final sixty plus miles of my section I was able to find a little form and get back on pace, but the damage was done and after a slightly lengthy pit stop, I’d given Destry the bike with nearly a ten minute deficit.
I was horribly disappointed in my ride; I’m not used to getting beat in Baja, but it’s times like these when you need to lean on your teammates and luckily, I have three of the best in the business. Destry showed why he’s still a world-class rider and by the time he handed the bike to David Pearson, the lead was down under eight minutes, and he had stretched our lead over KTM to around nine.
As darkness fell over the peninsula this is when most people say the race truly begins; there was still almost half the race-distance to run and things can get even more unpredictable at night. David was riding so well and eating into the lead of the Honda. In the chase van, we could only get scattered reports, but each time the lead was smaller: down to six minutes, then four, and by the time he had finished his section he’d cut the lead down under three minutes. We were well and truly in the race. The KTM was still hanging about, but they had dropped to over twenty minutes behind us and as Steve mounted the bike, going head to head with Timmy on the Honda, I had absolute confidence he could make the pass and pull out the minute and a half we needed to take the win.
Again radio updates were sketchy at best, but we heard Steve was reeling the Honda in and it was getting close. We set up a pit just outside San Carlos and as the Honda came through, Steve was barely ninety seconds behind and I could tell he knew he had it. Then disaster struck…
First we heard a report that the Honda had cleared Baja Pits, but no sign of our Kawi, and within the next nail-biting half an hour our worst fears were confirmed… Our bike was broken down at race mile 995, just about 130 miles from the finish. Everyone’s heart sank; especially when we reached Steve and he said he could see Timmy’s head light just fifteen seconds up the course when it happened. After nearly 1000 miles of ups and downs and one epic comeback, our race was over.
It’s true heartbreak for something like this to happen, especially when our entire team was on such a high, feeling this was finally our year to get that elusive Baja 1000 victory; but, of course, it’s a part of racing that can happen at anytime to anybody and unfortunately it happened to us. I’m so proud of the team though and want to say a huge thank you to the entire THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki team for working so hard all year, putting in countless hours of preparation and making this effort championship-worthy. Thank you to my teammates: Destry Abbott, David Pearson and Steve Hengeveld for working their butts off and riding so well, getting us back in the race after my slow start. Thanks to Phil, Ty, Bob, Mikey, Rob and Scott for everything they do day in, day out to make this effort possible. Thanks to Ryan Abbatoye for being “so freaking fast” as our back up rider, everybody who volunteered to help out in the pits and Joe Feely for being our designated taxi in Ensenada. Big thanks to my personal sponsors for supporting me this entire year: Fox Racing, Asterisk, John Burr Cycles and HookIt.com, and of course my wonderful fiancé for all that she is and all that she does for me.
I want to congratulate JCR Honda on the SCORE championship, as there’s no denying they earned it. After getting beat at San Felipe and the Baja 500, their backs were up against the wall, but I feel that made them more dangerous. They were backed into a corner and absolutely had to win and they showed they put in the time to get the job done. Congratulations to KTM for a successful first true year in Baja showing they were competitive and the bike was solid and I’m looking forward to another year of close battles. And I want to say huge congratulations to Sal and everyone at SCORE for 45 years in Baja. This was once again a top class event and I know it wasn’t easy to pull off with all of the hurricane destruction down south. Finally, it’s getting frustrating saying, “we came so close but…” yet again, but the entire team put in such a fantastic effort and we’ll dust ourselves off, come back again, stronger and more determined to show what we’re made of and get that 1X plate."
Here is Henge's Race Report
The 2012 Baja 1000 was probably the most anticipated baja 1000 of all time. Coming off of our Baja 500 Overall win in June, this was making the Baja 1000 even that more great.. With the way the points were working out, Out of the (3) teams in contention, who ever crossed the finish line first would win not only the Baja 1000 Race but the Championship as well..
My journey to this years Baja 1000 started right after the Baja 500 in June.. I wanted to be ready and ready for anything that might be thrown at me for the The 2012 running of the Baja 1000. My team (THR/Monster Energy Precision Concepts Kawasaki) was ready for battle.. All of our testing and prep went as planned and we learned alot and applied it to our program.
Our team consisted of Robby Bell, Dave Pearson, Destry Abbott and myself. I believe we had the strongest team out there..All of the guys did a great job prerunning and learning the course.
So here is my story of when I got on the #8X THR MonsterEnergy Precison Concepts kawasaki.
David Pearson Handed me the bike In Loreto, BCS. About 9:30pm. After Davids great ride, the bike came in and we did a full pit... Front and rear tires, Fuel, Air filter, Brake Pads, check oil, everything.. That pit was amazing.. Bob Bell, Ty Renshaw, Flying Phil, Tim Gomez, The Pearson Clan, Robby Bell, and Dave Pearson even after getting off the bike. All these guys made it for a great fast FULL PREP pit stop.
when the bike was done I Jumped on the bike about 4minutes 40 seconds behind the Honda bike.. I knew I had some time to make up but I was ready for the challenge.. After months of training and a couple of weeks of prerunning i knew this was the moment when all of the hard work was going to pay off.. My first section was from loreto to Insurgentes.. during this first section i kept calm, put my head down and rode that motorcycle like it was suppose to be ridden. In this first section from Loreto to Insurgentes i was really confident, especially when i was seeing the Hondas Lines in the corners where they were starting to accelerate in the corners and I was already accelerated. Right there gave me a rush.. i knew I had to be making up time. But I just didn't know how much.. When I got to Insurgentes for my first pit, the Pit went really smoothly.. We used the BAJA PITS and they did an awesome job as a gas and go pit.. Flawless.. especially when they gave me a new time split of 2minutes. :) That even pumped me up more.. My next section was from Insurgentes to San Carlos Hwy. We were getting into the Nasty FOG Section. I knew that there might be some fog in this section and i knew what i had to do.. Keep focused and keep moving forward. everything went good in this section. there was one particular water hole that woke me up. Sometimes the fog changes things and it sure did this time.. But a little High speed maneuvering around the water hole and we were back to business. When i reached the San Carlos highway BoB Bell, Robby Bell and Phil pitted me again with just fuel.. and of course a time split.. Robby informed me that the time split was just under 90 seconds. =) I was like YESSS!!!!! I had made up another minute in a very fast section. My next section was San Carlos Hwy to Santa Rita, This is the section with the notorious WHOOP section thru the cactus forest that everybody dreads. As I made that left off of the highway and headed for the whoops i knew it was going to be very foggy and this is where i had to do it. I had to push thru the fog and whoops Harder than anyone else. I had to catch and pass that Honda in this section. I knew I could do it.. I wanted to prove to everyone that I was still KING of the NIGHT!!!! After about 20 miles i started to see something in glimpses.. I was seeing light. I kept pushing for miles and all of a sudden I could see him. I couldn't believe it.. I actually could see the back of the Honda. I was ecstatic.. At this point i was just reeling him in. I was starting to plan my pass. I figured I would pass when he would pull into his pit in about 5 miles, I was about 10 seconds behind him. i knew that in 5 miles i Would be right on him and the game would be over.. I would just pull away too the finish.. BUT then Tragedy struck me.. =( I couldn't believe it . The bike popped and coasted to a stop I kept kicking the machine in hopes it would refire. To no avail she was done..... I pushed the bike for awhile but then the sand was too much.. I had to stop pushing in the sand. I waited there in the dark for what seemed to be hours for the next bike.. Thanks to NIGHT RIDER, My new Night riders were able to let me look around while i was pushing my bike and also while i was waiting for help. When Kurt Caselli came by he stopped and and he went to the next pit and told Dean in which told BOB bell where i was and that I was safe.. Thank you Kurt. In the mean time a family that was camped way out in the middle of nowhere came along and picked me up. Kurt had also stopped at there camp and told them i was broke down. They ended up giving me a ride out of the middle of the BAJA out to the Highway where my team happen to be waiting at this random dirt road. We came to this BAJA to win Like we do for EVERY RACE. Our outcome is not what we wished, But we did have the competition running scared in the night..
I want to thank THR MOTORSPORTS, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts, TroyLEE Designs, Night RIDER, Bob Bell, Scott Jacobsen, Rob Sims, Ty Renshaw, Factory Phil, Tim Gomez, Baja Pits, and the entire Team for riding Hard and not giving up.
See you next year!!!!!
Bobby Bell's race speed
Great reports, Guys. Bobby Bell, do you have a reason for giving up time when you did?
I think the official story is Robby just had an off day and was smart enough not to push a bad position. Remarkable to me was everyone else I spoke with had the same impression that the KTM seemed visibly slower throughout the course. Not sure why. I'd love to see Dean win. But I'd like to see us win more... :D
We really were a David vs two Goliaths situation. Robby is the fastest during the day and Henge is still king of the night. The Kawi is faster than the Honda. But it is really difficult to put together 20 pits across 1120 miles of desert with a tiny budget. KTM had their Mercedes vans while I drove the 8X bike to Ensenada in a 160K mile Chevy pickup borrowed from Ryan Abbatoye's dad. Same for Honda as they have their legacy structure in place. Ours was basically a group of mostly volunteers for a little motorcycle shop in Riverside, California against two huge international motorcycle companies. And we almost did it with Bob's better sling shot.
Post racing chatter is often what-ifs but if Robby had been on and the one mechanical hadn't happened we'd have won by a large margin. So Bob is definitely on the correct track.
Kawi and KTM are getting this figured out and while Honda has dominated since Kawi left Baja it's like Caselli said before the race 'sure they are winning but who are they beating?' Something like that.
With the sale of Score to Norman I'll be interested to see if he starts coming down on Honda for their course deviations. And if they send an army of dozers to San Felipe. And we get better video coverage. And...
Great report. Love reading "from the horse's mouth" so to speak.
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