The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Campbell And Hengeveld Rule Baja On XR650R

SCORE Desert Series
Round 3: Tecate SCORE Baja 1000, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
November 21, 2003

The 36th-annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 will go down as toughest one ever,
with just 153 of the 272 original starters able to finish. Despite the
long, dusty day and cold, foggy night, however, the Honda Off-Road Team
pairing of Johnny Campbell and Steve Hengeveld not only coped well but
thrived, resulting in a winning ride that saw them literally run away from
the entire field to take the overall victory in 15 hours, 39 minutes, 52
seconds. That gave them an average speed of 51.58 miles per hour for the
808-mile course on their XR650R, besting the first truck or buggy by some
45 minutes and the second-place motorcycle by about 53 minutes. It also
stretched Campbell's Baja 1000 win streak to seven in a row and gave Honda
its 14th overall motorcycle victory, also extending a record. In addition,
eight of the first 10 bike finishers relied on the XR650R, resulting in
four Pro-class wins out of five (of course, the 650 isn't eligible for the
250cc class).

Though Campbell and Hengeveld finished the three-race SCORE Desert Series
with a perfect record for the second consecutive year, don't think that
their Baja 1000 win was easy. Campbell was fourth off the line and grabbed
the lead just 20 miles later. Early in the race, however, he hit a sizeable
rock that sat hidden in the shadows, destroying the front wheel. "I never
even knew it was there," he said. "I've been down that road a hundred
times, but I hit it going really, really fast! Right when I hit it, I
thought it was over with."

Fortunately, Campbell didn't crash, but besides the mangled wheel, he
suffered a jammed thumb on his throttle hand, an injury that would affect
him the rest of the day. "It kind of dampened my ride because I had a
really good rhythm going and everything was working really good until
then," he lamented. Still, Campbell managed to limp the bike onward until
he could get the broken wheel replaced by the heads-up crew from the next
pit. After that, "Basically, I just had to maintain and ride 75 percent
because my thumb was hurting pretty bad," he said, and he handed the bike
to Hengeveld after 205 miles.

Coming on strong and determined to overtake them, the Christopher
Blais/Chuck Dempsey/Andy Grider/Beau Hayden team actually passed
Campbell/Hengeveld when the defending champs stopped for a scheduled tire
change. That lasted only until they reached the bottom of the course near
Chapala Dry Lake and turned north with Hengeveld moving back into the lead
for good. "When I passed them at Chapala, my goal was just to ride as hard
as I could to San Matias Pass (a distance of nearly 170 miles) because I
figured I could put some time on them," Hengeveld explained. "When I got to
San Felipe (about 120 miles later) I had six minutes and kept building."

Despite having to avoid a herd of cattle and some wild horses in the dark
in the last 150 miles, plus needing to slow markedly for fog, Hengeveld
kept extending his margin while Campbell kept tabs via a satellite phone he

"There is no greater thrill or accomplishment in our sport than to be
champions of the Baja 1000," Hengeveld declared after finishing back in
Ensenada. "Don't wake me up; it's unbelievable!

"We rode a couple thousand miles in preparation for this thing. It all
worked out so it's okay," he laughed.

The Blais/Dempsey/Grider/Hayden team ended up second overall on their
XR650R, their ride slowed by a broken light bracket. Third overall and
first in Class 40 for riders 40 or older went to Craig Adams, Rich Binkley,
Chris Haines, Bob Johnson, Jack Johnson and Paul Ostbo. It marked the 20th
Baja 1000 for Haines and gave him his 10th class victory. Class 30 winners
Gerardo Rojas and Sergio Vega took fourth overall by just three seconds
over Class 40 runners-up Jeff Kaplan, Jim O'Neal and Tim Withers.

Baja 1000 overall motorcycle results:
1. Johnny Campbell/Steve Hengeveld-Honda XR650R-15:39:52
2. Christopher Blais/Chuck Dempsey/Andy Grider/Beau Hayden-Honda
3. Craig Adams/Rich Binkley/Chris Haines/Bob Johnson/Jack Johnson/Paul
Ostbo-Honda XR650R-17:37:30
4. Gerardo Rojas/Sergio Vega-Honda XR650R-17:43:18
5. Jeff Kaplan/Jim O'Neal/Tim Withers-Honda XR650R-17:43:21