Honda Is Back Dominating Baja Again

Finishing with a 25 minute victory lead the 2018 SCORE International Champions, SLR Honda, claimed the first points of the season to kick off the four-round SCORE World Desert Championship.

Mark Samuels, Justin Morgan, and Justin Jones made their way down to Baja California, Mexico and prepared for the San Felipe 250 bringing with them the champion 1x plate, an all new 2019 Honda CRF450x, and an unrivaled determination ready to dominate the grueling 350 mile desert race they were about to embark on.

The three man team spent their days prior to the race pre-running their sections and studying the course. A kind of preparation that is  pivotal for top riders, especially those averaging 50 mph through silt, rocks, and whoops.

Each day spent before the race consisted of riding, testing, and recovering until the fastest lines were found and the bike was performing at its best. The last few bike modifications  were made and the now flawless bike was ready to race with the help of San Diego Powerhouse and AHM Factory Services which assisted the SLR Honda team.

The Pro Moto Unlimited Bikes were first to leave the San Felipe malecon at 6:20 a.m. the morning of April 6, 2019 with Justin Morgan starting 5th off the line. Knowing that he had to pass the leading bikes early on to find clean air that sits in first place, Morgan went for the sprint and quickly moved to the front position.

Taking on one of the hardest sections, Matomi Wash, Morgan stated “the course was roughed up from Trophy Trucks pre-running so rocks were hidden under deep sand that snuck up on you,”

Justin Morgan railing down a Baja road to hand it off to Justin Jones in 1st place and set the pace for the rest of the #SanFelipe250 – the 2019 Honda Motorcycles & ATVs CRF450X worked its magic this weekend. A big thank you to San Diego Powerhouse for building this bike to get us another SCORE International win ⚡️

With their next victory in the works, the team understood that Baja is cruel desert and this is a long race.

Coming into race mile 92 Morgan handed off the bike to Justin Jones. Jones raced through thousands of spectators who had waited patiently along the 350 mile course eager to catch the first glimpse of a motor passing by. As any Baja racer knows, you can find the spirit of an entire Supercross stadium in a group of locals that have been camped out for two nights waiting for this big day.

Fans cheered on the first place runner as Jones raced through Morelia and into the fastest section of the race. Tucked and tapped across the Diablo Dry LakeBed, Jones headed toward the goat trail to finish off his section and hand it over to team owner, Mark Samuels.

Maintaining a 20 minute lead, Samuels ripped through the highest point of the race. A section in which SCORE sent racers downhill through one of the rockiest and most technical terrains in the course. Known as The Summit, Samuels credited this section for being “a true test of a product’s durability.”

Headed south towards the finish line ready to wrap up another win, Samuels handed off the bike to Morgan, who got back on ready to pound out the previously beaten up Powerline whoops of San Felipe.

Holding onto the only advice being given at each pit , “Keep the bike on two wheels and get back to the podium, safely.” Morgan felt the ocean air as he hit the last leg of the course.

Crossing the finish line just 10 minutes shy of 7 hours, with a 25 minute lead ahead of second place the SLR Honda team won the 2019 San Felipe 250.

Pop the champagne, SLR Honda is ready for the Baja 500.

SLR Honda takes on Round 5 Worcs Series

SLR Honda sent team riders Tallon LaFountaine and Ricky Dietrich to the Round 5 Worcs Series event in Las Vegas, Nevada. Being the halfway mark of the season, both riders arrived prepared for an intense and unfamiliar course and maintained a top 10 points lead. 

The race organization designed this short course to run both inside and outside of the Orleans Arena built with added enduro sections and an after dark start. For Ricky Dietrich, the night start seemed to be a breeze as he stated “racing at night was no problem. I’ve raced at night many times so I felt I was prepared for the unique conditions.” 

With dry heat and summer-like weather already making its way to Las Vegas,  racing after sundown was a great escape from the desert’s high temperatures. Still at a high of 78 degrees, the Pro 2 race started at 7:40 p.m. 

With the motivation of qualifying 2 seconds from first place that morning, Lafountiane was ready for another competitive race. Averaging 1 minute and 15 second lap times, Lafoutaine finished in 2nd once again and maintained a 6th overall in Pro 2 points. 

Tallon Lafountaine Worcs Las Vegas 2019
Tallon Lafountaine Worcs Las Vegas 2019

“I struggled a lot for about half of the race in the rocks and even went back to 7th after starting up front,” says Lafounaine. “I was able to figure out a couple sections and make my way back to 2nd place with only a few seconds off the leader again.” 

Teammate, Ricky Dietrich had a solid practice on Friday and Saturday until a crash in the final lap left him with a sore shoulder going into the race that evening. Dietrich stated, “I was third in the first turn and completed the first few laps in 4th behind Tayler Roberts.” Struggling with recovery Dietrich expressed “I faded back to 10th and fell behind. I did my best to regroup and put in some good laps towards the end but it was too late and the pack was too far ahead.” 

Dietrich is determined to stay strong this season, “The time in between now and Mesquite is pivotal for me to have a strong performance before summer break. I’ll take this weekend as motivation for the future and just keep plugging away.”

The indoor stadium seating and the tight race track at the Orleans Arena brought more spectators that most off-road racers don’t usually get to experience. “It’s definitely super tight and short for a Worcs race, it throws a little twist into the schedule which is cool.” Lafountaine declared.

The 32 day countdown for Round 6 at Mesquite has begun and the SLR Honda team is excited to get back to racing.