Baja Race Report
The 24th annual running of the San Felipe 250 begins at dawn tomorrow, but the racers have been at it for a solid week. Go practically anywhere within fifty miles of the city center and you'll see race vehicles heading to, or returning from portions of the course where they've been pre-running.
On Friday, the first major event of the race weekend occurs with the race vehicles lining up along the Malecon, the sea-wall that separates the fishing boats on the beach from the restaurants and bars. It makes for a colorful parade as thousands of race fans (the majority of them local) crowd around the trucks and buggies as they inch toward tech inspection area.
Rather than waiting in this long line, motorcycles enter the inspection area from the side and can go through anytime they please. It's quick - the inspectors check the paper work, make sure the wheel spokes are tied, look for the first aid kit, rider safety gear and, finally, a working taillight.
After that, riders may do some last minute pre-running, but for most it's a day of rest in preparation for tomorrow's ordeal on 250 miles including the three sand and rock filled canyons, Matomi, Huatamote, and Chanate, that represent the "Best of Baja" The fastest will average nearly 60 mph with a top speed of over 100 mph. They will finish the motorcycle race in under five hours. But anything can happen, and up to eleven hours are allowed to count as finishing the race.
On Saturday, the Honda and Kawasaki teams will compete in the open pro motorcycle class with the 1X plate carried by Kendall Norman (JCR/Honda) and the 2X bike ridden by Robby Bell (Monster Energy/Kawasaki). Bell's teammate will be former champion Steve Hengeveld.
An unfortunate turn for the Honda team came when it was announced late yesterday that Tim Weigand, Kendall Norman's scheduled teammate, suffered a mild stroke and is out of the race. In addition to the pro class eight other motorcycle classes. All together, nearly 275 vehicles will be raising clouds of dust as they run in the first of Baja's big three races.