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Day Two of Racing at the NORRA Mexican 1000 Sees the Bikes and Cars Split

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After the entire Mexican 1000 field raced from Ensenada to San Felipe on day one, the field will split on day two. The 4 wheeled competitors headed south to Bay of Los Angeles. The bike classes started south, but then headed back over to the Pacific side of the peninsula with the final destination being Guererro Negro. The bikes got into some nice terrain on day two and remember, they are all using roadbook navigation. Not only do they have the physical demands of riding, but they also need to concentrate on the symbols printed on the roll chart in order to stay on course. There are no course markings on a NORRA race course. There is no prerunning either; riders need to navigate the entire way. If they get off course, they have to go back and find the closest known point and start again. The demands are high, but the rewards are greater. Every stage completed is a huge accomplishment. Some of the more experienced Pro riders may make it look easy, but they too are one wrong turn away from big time losses.

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Two time overall winner Matt Sutherland riding his 2021 KTM 450 Rally is locked into a battle with Alex Smith on 2024 Ducati DesertX Rally bike. Both the leaders compete in the Pro Rally class. Amateur Rally class rider Alex Ritz has moved into the third place overall with a great ride on day two. Alex is riding a 2001 Honda XR650R. Larry Engwall is riding a 2024 Husqvarna 501W in the 60+ class and sits fourth overall. Amateur Rally class racer Shane Wallack rounds out the top five. He’s on a 2001 Honda XR 650R.

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There is a wide range of years and manufacturers racing at the Mexican 1000. During stage three (day two) the lead pack included Sutherland, Smith, Jeff Horton on 2013 Husqvarna TE511 and Jay Bartoli on his 2019 KTM EXC 450. Just behind them was the Weston Bradburn team bike ridden by Weston, Kevin Bradburn, Isaac Caldiero and Seth Watts. They were hanging with the modern bikes out front riding their Vintage Motos class 1977 Yamaha XT500! They aren’t even the oldest bike in the field. Those honors go to Matthew Travis on his 1975 Honda MR175 Elsinore. The seat cushion has to be counted as part of the rear suspension on those older bikes. Those guys are earning every mile; Matthew Travis is doing it all ironman. In the next couple days, the bikes will be getting into some incredible and remote areas of Baja; places where cars are not even allowed.

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The four wheeled competitors headed south through a lot of sand, silt, whoops and cacti of every type to their overnight stay in Bay of Los Angeles. The course was tougher for some than others. The faster cars in group one went up a sand hill that proved a big challenge for some. The UTV’s went right up with their all-wheel drive, but some of the big trucks got bogged down in the loose sand. Leader after day one, Larry Ragland remarked at the finish line that it was a rough course and it didn’t suit the way his truck was set up. He dropped down the overall rankings to fifth place overall, but still leads second place in Historic Truck and Truggy, Pedro Perezpliego in the number 16 by two hours. Mark Post is currently in third.

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Dave Mason won the first stage of the day followed by Steve Menzies and Joe Black. Roland Sarmiento in his Vintage Open Truck w/4×4 was fourth and Larry Roeseler fifth. It was stage two from El Huerfanito to El Huguay that really jumbled things up in the standings. Menzies finished first into Bay of Los Angeles, but Larry Roeseler ran the best times all day to put him into the overall lead.

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Steve Menzies was captured by the livestream crew during an interesting, but also common occurrence during Baja races. He had to stop while his co-driver got out and opened a gate. The ranchers have to keep the cows in so most people are in the habit of closing any gates they find open; even when the racers are coming through. It’s part of racing in Baja, we are traveling past their homes and businesses. Everyone owes a debt to the Mexican people for allowing us to follow our passions. It’s great that they share the same passion. No matter where in Baja you go, chances are you will see spectators cheering on their favorite drivers. We also owe a debt to our sponsors who make things like the live feed possible. Thanks to Speed Energy, Bilstein, Meyers Manx, Raceline wheels, Nomad, Mobelwagen, STEEL-IT, and the Fab School we can capture that incredible footage.

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With the rally stage format, the order of the vehicles on course do not determine who is winning. Everything is based on elapsed time and penalties. If you make mistakes navigating or miss the starting time for your stage, your overall time will be affected. You can be back in the field, run a fast time, and be higher in the overall standings at the end of the day. There are six straight days of racing and you have to maintain a consistent speed the entire way. Can you make up time? Yes. Your competitors can also lose time. Nobody knows who will win until the final checkered flag falls in San Jose Del Cabo.

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Steve Menzies hangs on to his second place overall position and it’s probably right where he wants to be. The strategy is to let someone else sweep the road ahead and use their pace to run just fast enough to stay in contact. Of course, you always need to pay attention to who is coming through the pack. That’s what Roeseler did to take the overall spot. Butch Jensen’s team is running third overall. He had Pat Dean behind the wheel for day two; Tricia Reina was navigating as usual. Fourth place overall is Dave Mason Jr. He was second car into the finish line. After winning stage one, he finished fourth on stage two. As mentioned, Larry Ragland is fifth place overall and Joe Black has moved into the sixth spot in his 6100 truck.

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As we suspected, the 6100 trucks blew past the UTV’s today. Number 6188 Maxime Losier is now sitting in seventh place overall despite suffering a rollover on day one. Eighth place overall id Bill Zemak in his Rhys Millen Racing Jackal. The ninth spot is held by Scott Bailey in his ID designs Evolution Unlimited Truck. Rounding out the top ten is Wayne Matlock in his Polaris RZR Pro R. It’s nice to see Wayne having a good run.

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Other UTV’s that are running strong include Kyle Vestermark and his son Carter racing their CanAm Maverick R in the Evolution Open UTV class. At only 16 years old, it was Carter’s third Mexican 1000. Jake Versey is running second in only his first NORRA race. They are getting the hang of navigating. In Evolution Production Turbo UTV Clint Tasset leads Gilberto Rodriguez and Benjamin Crawford; all three in CanAm’s. Robby Gordon is less than a minute behind in his Speed UTV Bandit. Seth Egge leads Evolution Production N/A UTV in a Yamaha.

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The Evolution Pro 2000 UTV/Class 10 is looking to be a real battle. Wayne Matlock leads followed by Nick Mcphee and Kristen Matlock. Chasing the top three are Justin Lambert, Eric Duran in the class 10, Austin (fish) Farner and then Thomas Purcell.

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The Vintage 4-cyl Buggies are plugging away with Brian Coats out front in his Mirage followed by Daniel Cornwell in a Chenowth Magnum and Bob Howle in his Chenowth Dr2. In the Vintage Class 1/2-1600 Ruben Rodriguez leads Dan Bradley. Both are racing Romo built cars. The lead has changed in Vintage Class 5. Bill Hernquist has overtaken both Rick Paquette in second and Hap Kellogg in third. Nobody is having more fun than Segismundo Lucas Valdes who is racing his Volkswagen Vanagon in the Evolution RV class. We see that our Grand Marshal Randy Wilson is still out front in the Challenger Buggies class. The car looks great in its original Norm Wilson and Sons livery with Prep by Mike Singleton on the car. Mike cut the front end off this car after winning the championship in 1989 to convert it from a beam to independent a-arms; a gutsy move. Mike must be watching over them, Race in Peace Mike.

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So much has happened so far and it’s only been two days of competition; four more lay ahead. Be sure to follow along as they head further south. There are plenty of surprises to come so don’t miss any of the action on the NORRA live feed found on YouTube and Facebook . After experiencing the Mexican 1000 just once, you too will be hooked. Everything you need to know about the Mexican 1000 and NORRA 500 can be found at www.norra.com. Go to the site and find out for yourself why NORRA has exploded in popularity. You can experience the same wonder and sense of achievement those pioneering thrill seekers sought in 1967 when you join NORRA in Baja. NORRA events honor the past, while forging the future. Don’t miss out on the fun and action.

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