FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2017 (Agua Dulce, Calif.): Day 3 had the longest mileage yet and the carnage is starting to build up. The bulk of the stage was made up of high speed sections with plenty of Gotcha’s along the way. Cameron Steele has led the overall since day one in his Evolution Unlimited group Monster Energy Trophy Truck and put in another solid run on day 3. Second overall and leading the Historic Truck and Truggy group is Mark Post in his familiar #3 Riviera truck. The next four spots in the overall belong to Evolution Unlimited group competitors with Greg DiStefano 3rd overall and 2nd in class followed by Zak Langley, JC Cornia, and Mark Croudy. 7th overall and leading Vintage Open Trucks is the Toyota pick-up of David Hough. Rounding out the top ten are three Volkswagen bodied cars. 8th overall and leading Vintage Class 5 is Travis Chase. Only 37 seconds back and in 2nd place in Vintage class 5 is Drew Belk. 10th overall is Gay Smith in his Jimco Evolution Unlimited VW Bug cabriolet.
The Vintage class 5 group has seen an intense battle since the drop of the green flag in Ensenada. After day 3, Travis Chase has found himself in the lead but Drew Belk is right on his bumper. “The stages were fast today but our top speed is only around 100 mph,” said Chase, “I was going fast but trying not to wring the neck out of our motor. We didn’t have any issues today but had a scary moment during the first stage on day one. We came to a fork in the road with some big ruts and cactus. All of a sudden, there was a deep gully and some whoops. We hit the gully and the back end went way up in the air; we were staring at the ground. We hit the next whoop and it popped the front end up and we just kept going. After that, we’ve been playing it kind of safe.” His strategy is paying off as two Vintage class 5 competitors blew their engines on day 3.
There are countless tight battles going on in the field but a couple stand out. In the Evolution Modified UTV group, PJ Jones and Bill Whittington are separated by only seconds with PJ out front. The two drivers are normally teammates racing under the PJ’s Performance banner. Another tight battle has emerged between 1st and 2nd place in the Modern Open bike group between leader Steve Hengeveld and 2nd place Mark Samuels. Separated by only 29 seconds, they are also the first and second overall bikes.
“I had a 5 minute lead on day 2 but some GPS issues had me off course,” said Hengeveld, “I waited for Mark to show up and we had to work together to find our way to the finish. On day 3, the stages were fast; not tight and technical. It’s really hard to gain time on stages like that over a top caliber rider like Samuels. The bike is running great; it’s nice to show that we can still hang with the factory Hondas on this old heavy bike.” Hengeveld is riding a Honda XR650R. Honda produced those bikes from 2000 to 2007 which means his bike is at least, 10 years old.
Leading the 2 Strokes Only group is Steve Ransom and Eric Chase on their Kawasaki KX500. “We had some clutch issues on the steep hills on day 1, so we changed the clutch that night,” said Ransom, “On day 2, we lost the GPS so I was following tracks ahead of me. I ended up on an old SCORE course; it was filled with deep whoops. I could see dust way off to my right so I worked my way over there. I found the course, it was a fast road. Much better than the whoops I was riding. I reloaded my map on the transit section but when I got back in the dirt, I was zoomed way out. I was on a high speed section that looked like a straight line but there was a zig zag. I went straight and found myself on a cliff. I was frustrated and thought about just pushing the bike off, but a guy on a quad showed up and helped me drag the bike up the hill,” he said with a laugh. “Eric was on the bike today and had to scrounge some gas. He rode with some jugs strapped on his chest until he burned enough fuel to dump it all in the tank. The bike is running great and we are having fun but it’s going to be a long day on day 4.”
Competitors are helping each other the best they can but Baja is taking a toll. Engines, transmissions and suspensions are being pounded into submission. Each night sees some teams having a toast in celebration; while others drink to commiserate. Everyone who has made it this far has earned it!
Be sure to follow the tracking and live feed so you can be a part of the action. You can find the live feed here: www.norra.com/live. There will also be daily race reports that include personal quotes from competitors and insider information from people on the ground. The nightly race report, and additional information about NORRA, can be found here: www.norra.com/mexican1000
BIKES - TOP 10 (6/10 stages) UNOFFICIAL
CARS - TOP 10 (7/11 stages) UNOFFICIAL
Beginning in 2010, the National Off Road Racing Association (NORRA) began promoting a rebirth of the NORRA Mexican 1000 rally. The unique off-road rally was co-created by promoter Mike Pearlman to consist of special stages (unlimited speed timed stages in the dirt) linked together by controlled speed liaison / transit sections (highway). The one-of-a-kind, once-a-year, four-day rally includes vintage off-road vehicles and motorcycles, as well as modern desert Rally Raid cars, pre-runner trucks, buggies and motorcycles.
Pearlman's late father Ed and others established the first running of the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally in November of 1967, which eventually became internationally recognized and evolved into the Baja 1000 in the mid-1970's.
The 2017 NORRA Mexican 1000 is supported by Yokohama, Method Race Wheels, Walker Evans Racing, South Point Hotel Casino, Bilstein Shock Absorbers, Multitool USA, Mastercraft/Impact Safety, P.C.I. Race Radios, BajaUnited Group and many more.