SAN FELIPE, Mexico — When the dust settled and the rain stopped during Saturday’s 28th Tecate SCORE San Felipe 250 desert race elapsed-time event, Mexico’s Gus Vildsola Jr. was declared the overall and SCORE Trophy Truck winner for the second straight year.
Round 1 of the five-race SCORE World Desert Championship was held on a challenging, weather-shortened 219-mile course that started and finished in San Felipe on the northern portion of Mexico’s majestic Baja California peninsula.
Originally scheduled to cover 274 miles, SCORE was forced after the race had started early Saturday morning to significantly re-route the course because an area called the summit was impassable because of the torrential rain that pelted the northern section of the race course Friday and during the night on Saturday.
SCORE CEO/President Roger Norman made the decision to re-route after the motorcycle and ATV classes had left the start line Saturday morning starting at 6 a.m. To continue the race, SCORE moved the start time for the car and truck classes two hours from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. while he and his staff re-routed the motorcycle and ATV classes from race mile 120 on the original course to a spot along Mexico highway 3. The motorcycles and ATVs were stopped starting at 8:42 a.m. Saturday and returning to racing at Noon.
At that point SCORE marked a new section of desert to re-join the original course at the previous race mile of 224. The motorcycle and ATV classes were held from continuing for nearly four hours while SCORE official marked a new section of desert to race on to rejoin the original course near El Chinero.
Starting next to last out of 21 vehicles in the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck racing division for hi-tech, 850-horsepower unlimited production trucks, Vildosola, of Mexicali, powered the No. 21 Red Bull Vildosola Racing Ford Raptor to a winning time of three hours, 31 minutes, 27 seconds while averaging a super strong average speed of 62.14 miles per hour.
In earning his third career SCORE Trophy Truck race win, Vildosola, who normally splits driving time with his father Gus Vildosola and decided that this race was too short to stop for a driver change, praised a great-running truck and some aggressive driving for his home-country victory. Vildosola said at the finish line in the shadow of the famed San Felipe Arches.
“We drew 25th (starting position) and I was extremely worried about being so far back in the field of great SCORE Trophy Truck racers. It really changed my game plan during the race. We started seeing nice compacted dirt near San Matias and it was really slippery around Mike’s loop,” Vildosola said. “We got around a bunch of guys and it was a good clean race. That’s what we needed. We were running in the dust, bushes and things sometimes bigger than bushes that got in the way. I had to do some creative things to get around other trucks. We are pretty aggressive with the truck. Going up to Borrego we could really push the truck and we made up some good time. A lot of the race course played to our strengths and fit my driving strenghts.”
Finishing second overall were Tim Herbst and Larry Roeseler with a time of 3:36:51 at 60.60 mph, five minutes, 24 seconds behind Vildosola in the No. 19 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150.
The overall and Open motorcycle winner was the team of Ricky Brabec, Shane Esposito and Max Eddy Jr., who split driving in the No. 4x Monster Energy THR Motorsports Kawasaki KX450F. The trio overcame a battle for over half the race with Colton Udall on the No. 1x Honda CRF450X, finishing in 3:53:33 to give Kawasaki its first overall motorcycle victory in this race since 1996.
“The first 40 miles of the race was good with Colton Udall (1x who finished second) and I going back and forth,” Brabec said. “I’ve never started a Mexico race and I’ve never finished a Mexico race before so it was pretty awesome. These guys (my teammates) are all good partners. We delivered the bike all in one piece.”
With SCORE Trophy Trucks claiming eight of the top 10 overall 4-wheel finishing positions, third place went to Steven Eugenio in a Chevy Silverado (3:38:04) while fourth was Rob MacCachren in the No. 11 Rockstar Energy MacCachren Motorsports Ford F-150 (3:40:14).
RPM Racing of Bristol, Tenn., claimed three of the top 10 overall 4-wheel vehicle finishing positions. Team co-owner Justin Matney won the unlimited Class 1 and finished fifth overall in the RPM Racing Chevy powered Geiser open-wheel desert race car (3:45:10). RPM’s Juan C. Lopez was fifth in SCORE Trophy Truck and seventh overall in the No. 18 Ford Raptor (3:50:43) while RPM’s co-owner Clyde Stacy was sixth in SCORE Trophy Truck and eighth overall in the No. 5 Geiser Rally Truck (3:51:31). RPM Racing picked up a second class win as Jim Bunn won the Sportsman Unlimited Truck class in a Mason-Chevy.
Second in Class 1 and sixth overall was Damen Jefferies in the Jefferies-Chevy (3:48:31).
Completing the top 10 overall 4-wheel vehicles list with a ninth and seventh in SCORE Trophy Truck was Zak Langley in the No. 50 COPS Racing Ford F-150 (4:04:01) and 10th overall and eighth in SCORE Trophy Truck was the team of Troy Herbst and Ryan Arciero in the No. 91 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorsports Ford F-150, just one second behind Langley on elapsed time (4:04:02).