May 3, 2024

Competitors Struggle in Penultimate Stage of NORRA Mexican 1000

“People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things,” Sir Edmund Hillary. Hillary and his Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Competitors at the NORRA Mexican 1000 have decided to do an extraordinary thing and are striving to be the first to the final finish line in San Jose Del Cabo.

NORRA Race Director Eliseo Garcia released this announcement about the events of stage five. “Due to circumstances out of NORRA´S control, Race Direction has decided to neutralize the entire second special stage of day 5. A teachers strike in the Constitucion area and an unfortunate accident resulted in course rerouting and delays in race progress, day 5 timing will only consider SS01 and SS03 for day 6 start order.”

Several competitors experienced setbacks to their efforts in this penultimate stage. In the bike classes, Cycle World Editor Justin Dawes was starting to climb steadily up the standings when a slight navigation error spiraled out of control. He had gone from 13th position up to fifth before a single wrong turn dropped him to sixteenth. He made a left turn too soon and found himself stuck in some blow sand. Justin is riding a Suzuki V-strom 800 in his first rally and first NORRA event. In stock form, with a full tank the bike weights 507lbs. After many intelligent mods they managed to get it down to 473lbs. but that’s still a lot of weight for anybody to wrestle in deep sand. Justin got it out, but at the cost of his clutch. “I made it to the beach and was so relieved that I blasted down the water’s edge at 80 miles per hour,” said Justin. “What I thought was wheel spin was actually the clutch slipping. I should have checked it out after I got stuck, but I didn’t. It was destroyed; I had no forward drive at all. I had to be carried out on the back of a Jeep.” The sweep crew got Justin to the highway and they took the bike to La Paz for repairs. He missed the final stage of the day resulting in a time penalty.

Out front the battle between Matt Sutherland and Alexander Smith raged on. It looks like the overall win will be determined in the final mile of the final stage. Sutherland is a seasoned pro who is going for his third overall win in a row. Smith, the son of Malcolm Smith, has Baja in his genes and is also a highly accomplished rider. "Two-day marathons are tough, long stages with no overnight assistance and limited fuel opportunities. However, I’m focused on closing out the final stage,” stated Alexander Smith. "I'm hoping for a technical navigation stage on the final day as that seems to be my strong suit for this race. I need to be smart tomorrow to close the gap and secure victory."

Alex Ritz is still leading in the Amateur Rally class and sits third overall. He has been trading places in the overall standings with Larry Engwall who leads the 60+ class. Eric Simensen has moved up into the top five overall and leads the 50+ class.

In the overall four-wheeled categories there has been a major shake-up in the standings after the Butch Jensen car driven by Pat Dean experienced a steering pump failure during special stage three. They were in contention for the overall, but now sit in the ninth spot overall and are second place in the Evolution Unlimited Buggy class behind Dave Mason Jr. Greg Distefano is third. Menzies leads the overall (he’s going for his third straight), Larry Roeseler trails by 11 minutes. Dave Mason sits third overall.

All teams are digging deep to get to the finish line. Randy Ludwig reports; “The Bukin'eer is officially out. Our oil pump drive in the motor froze up from debris off the distributor gear. We had a great time. Thank you, see you in Cabo. Rápido Randy Ludwig, Bukin'eer Racing.”

We also got a plea from Duke Lambert; “Come on folks! I drove 200 miles today with vise grips. Someone has to have a broken CanAm I can borrow the steering wheel from!!! PLEASE!” Duke and his Son David are currently third in the Evolution Open UTV class behind Kyle Vestermark and Richard Staunton. They won’t quit.

The Evolution Pro 2000 UTV/Class 10 has proven to be one of the most competitive this year. Remember, they have ten thousand dollars up for grabs. Wayne Matlock leads Eric Duran, Justin Lambert and Thomas Purcell going into the final day. “Lightning” Larry Ragland lost a V-drive unit, but his crew got it swapped out and he sits in the lead of the Historic Truck and Truggy class. Brian Coats maintains his advantage in the Vintage 4-cyl Buggies class over Daniel Cornwell, Bob Howle and Marty Fiolka. These results are just fleeting as anything can happen on the final stage. Good luck to everyone. We all hope things take a turn for the better the rest of the way.

Everything you need to know about the Mexican 1000 and NORRA 500 can be found at 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 NORRA created sanctioned off road racing in Baja. Don’t miss out on the prizes, competition and Baja experience found at all NORRA events.


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