Jorge Sampietro (Trophy Truck Spec), Matt Burroughs (Pro UTV FI) unofficially take titles
The 55th SCORE Baja 1000 sent hundreds of the world’s top off-road racers into the Baja California desert for 828.25 miles of intense action and any challenges the terrain could throw at them. But when all was said and done, an elite fleet of Monster Energy athletes, led by names like Mark Samuels, Phil Blurton, Jorge Sampietro, and Matt Burroughs, had what it took to bring home wins, podiums, and class titles in the most challenging event of the year.
Samuels, Justin Morgan, and Kendall Norman teamed up to dominate the Pro Moto Unlimited class on their SLR Honda CRF450X, giving the team its fifth consecutive win, Morgan’s sixth career Baja 1000 win, Samuels’ seventh, and Norman’s eighth. Their finishing time of 18:51:30 was more than an hour ahead of the next best finisher in class, and 10th among all registered entries in the event.
“It was a tough course, slower than normal, slower than we anticipated,” Samuels said at the finish line. “I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m looking forward to getting back and taking a nap. But it feels good to cross that finish line. It’s a special feeling for sure.
“We had our hands full at the beginning. The course was really gnarly from the hurricane that came through. It changed the course a lot, turned a lot of rocks up. We had to make our way through the pack from seventh. It was a really good race. By race mile 340 we were in the lead. From there we just had to bring it home. We had a great effort all the way.”
Multiple Monster athletes entered the season finale with a shot at the Pro UTV Forced Induction title, and with defending race winner and SCORE World Desert Champion Blurton set to join them, were a force to be reckoned with. Despite starting outside of the top 10, Blurton quickly put himself in podium position, running second for most of the race before scoring his second 1000 podium in two tries. Burroughs, meanwhile, came home fourth to claim his second class title in the past three years.
“It was a good race with really no issues,” Blurton said in Ensenada. “We got stuck in one bottleneck that separated us from the leader, as he got through there before we got there. Other than that, everything was smooth. We have only done one other SCORE Baja 1000 and it was a peninsula run, so this was a totally different game. This loop race was a little bit more tight and technical, with more of a save-the-car strategy. (But) we didn’t have to touch the car all day long.”
“In the beginning, the Summit was rough,” added Burroughs. “A bottleneck. Brad (Howe) drove all night and did a great job, and I jumped back in at the end. We only had one flat tire. Amazing. Especially with all the rocks. Thank you to SCORE for this amazing race. Thank you to my crew and my family.”
The Herbst family had a phenomenal event across both the Trophy Truck and Trophy Truck Spec classes, with top-six finishes for all three of its entries. The #264 team of Pierce and Riley Herbst and #263 of EJ Herbst and Ryan Millen came home third and fourth in TT Spec, while Tim Herbst’s #19 Trophy Truck was sixth of just 16 finishers in the premier class.
The Trophy Truck Spec championship, however, came down to Jorge Sampietro, whose 14th place finish was enough to return him to the top of the division. The 2022 Baja 500 winner finished all four of his starts this season, making up a 14-point deficit coming into the race by getting to the finish line in Ensenada. Finally, in the Trophy Truck Legends division, Mark Winkleman added third place finishes of his own in both the race and season standings.
Be sure to tune in to ESPN’s World of X Games in the coming months to watch the 55th SCORE Baja 1000 and see the Monster Energy athletes in action. Monster Energy is a proud sponsor of the SCORE World Desert Championship and looks forward to an exciting 2023 season, kicking off in March with the 36th SCORE San Felipe 250.