Ensenada, Baja California Mexico
After a long, tumultuous season of unknowns, the Team Honda Talon No. 1893 battled to win the 53rd running of the SCORE Baja 1000 and earn a SCORE World Desert Championship in the Pro UTV Unlimited Class driven by Eliott Watson, with a time of 28:37:58. A huge achievement any year, but especially so given this is the inaugural year of the Honda Powersports Talon 1000R racing program – a new racing platform, that has proven itself in Baja terrain.
This year’s edition of the SCORE Baja 1000 was the longest ever loop course over a rugged 898.4 miles in Baja, Mexico. Out of 185 entries, only 99 finished – at 53% finish rate, a testament to the brutal abuse the race vehicles endured.
Eliott Watson reflects, “It’s so hard to put into words how I’m feeling right now. We all love to win, but to win in 2020, and with a new race platform, adds another level of accomplishment. This year’s Baja 1000 was unforgiving and it was a bit of luck and an awesome team that got us through the gauntlet. We never gave up – my co-drivers, Steven Eugenio and Bud Ward rocked it in their sections, the team was ready to handle the challenges, and it paid off.”
“It was an epic team effort,” says Jeff Proctor, Team Principal, “I don’t think this was a perfect race for anyone this year, and it certainly wasn’t for us. We had to overcome a few hurdles to keep Eliott’s Talon in the race. It was a long event, not just in race miles, but in hours and effort. Everyone put in the time to bring it home. And boy did he! He was the only UTV in the Unlimited Class to finish. I’m really proud of the team, even though the results for the Ridgeline and No. 1888 Talon don’t reflect the dedication.”
The No. 709 Honda Ridgeline was out at RM 150 after a roll over from hitting a concrete pipe at speed. Both driver, Jeff Proctor, and navigator, Evan Weller, are fine, but the Ridgeline suspension sustained too much damage to continue.
Brett Sourapas was the lead driver in the No. 1888 Talon, fighting Baja gremlins and persevering until RM 460. They ran a strong first 150 miles, passing upwards of 40 cars.
“This car was on the rails and it’s a bummer the result doesn’t show it,” recounts Sourapas, “ We had a great pace with the new Talon platform – they are definitely here to takeover. I’m excited to see where this program goes. And a big congratulations to Eliott on his win and championship.”
Proctor shares his thoughts on 2020, “It goes without saying, that this year, has been a year of patience for everyone. From the changes happening in the world, to our race program – we all had to learn to adapt and accept the lows with the highs. Honda Off-Road Factory Racing team did all of that and then some. Our Talon program advanced quickly, as did the drivers. The Ridgeline is in great shape and continues to perform. We are fortunate to be working with an incredible manufacturer like Honda. We are exactly where I want to be, as we head into 2021.”
There’s one last stop for the team in 2020, the SxS 12 Hour TexPlex Endurance Race. After a quick reset and prep, the team heads to Texas where Eliott Watson and Jeff Proctor will drive for another chance to show off the new Talon race platform.
There’s no such thing as an off-season with the Honda Off-Road Factory Racing team. They plan to roll into more development and testing, with the King of the Hammers being the first race of 2021 for the Ridgeline and two Talons.
For additional info on the Honda Ridgeline Off-road team go to: http://www.hondaoff-road.com/ or HondaOffRoadRacing on Facebook, Instagram: @HondaOffRoadRacing or Jeff Proctor on Personal Instagram: @proctor_race.
Photography By: Bink Designs