Barker's Performance could not be more proud of our sponsored rider Juan Pirruñas Dominguez and Team 109A! Finishing 2nd place in one of the most brutal off-road races on the planet is no small feat. Honestly, just being able to cross the finish line in this race is a big deal.
We got up with Juan to get the scoop on his team's journey to the finish line at the 2017 50th Baja 1000. Here's what we learned.
After putting together our Baja 1000 in less than a month, Pirruñas Racing and Team 109A finished the 50th anniversary Baja 1000 in 2nd place, after battling the Baja peninsula from Ensenada to La Paz in 27 hours and 22 minutes, along with a 20-minute penalty. This 2nd place finish allowed us to clinch our 3rd World Desert Championship! The team's journey started by heading to Baja 1000 race headquarters on Tuesday, November 14 with all the adrenaline pumping for the green flag to drop. 109A rolled through tech and contingency festivities that evening with no issues and was ready for 1,134 miles of the most demanding terrain on earth.
The start of the Baja 1000 started at 2 am on Thursday for us, as I began navigating through the streets of Ensenada and into the dark night of Baja battling dust, fog, and booby traps for the first 40 miles. Since we were 9th quad off the line out of 17 entries, our plan was to was to ride smooth and not make any mistakes through the night, since it was very hard to push through dust and fog in pure darkness. By mile marker 110, we were leading the Sportsman ATV class until Baja Pits #2 chose to sleep in that night and not provide a fuel stop for us at mile marker 89. An unplanned gas stop at rm110 allowed 100A to get by and left us battling through the thick dust once again. As we came into Baja Pits #3, we were able to make a much quicker fuel stop and rider change and left the pit before 100A and into clean air. As we left the pit, our rival 103A came hot into the pit in hopes of taking over the lead. As the sun became to rise, we decided to remove our Baja Design dual racer lights, in order to pound the whoops of puertecitos with less weight on our front end. We were able to hold onto the lead until rm341 where the dust of the two pro quads held us back from moving away from the rest of the competition.
We decided to do a maintenance pit at rm341 which allowed 103A to get by us and settle in for 2nd place. From this point, we played catch up with 103A and were within minutes all the way to mile marker 860 when bad luck struck for us. Our spark plug fouled from the numerous water crossing between San Javier and Insurgentes, where we lost more than an hour trying to troubleshoot the issue. We battled the next 200 miles of the gnarliest fog we have ever witnessed and finished about an hour and a half behind 103A. Other than the spark plug failure, 109A ran a flawless race with no other mechanical issues or flat tires. 103A ended up receiving a one-hour penalty and put us around 40 minutes from the top spot. If it wasn't for our spark plug failure, we would have won our 4th Baja 1000. Lessons are always learned in Baja and to win you must have a perfect race! Although we took all measures to protect our spark plug since we knew water crossings were going to be a factor after pre-running, we still had an issue.
Although we didn't take the top spot, I was very impressed with how are Baja 1000 effort worked out. We were not planning to compete in this year's Baja 1000 due to transitioning jobs, but the support from our sponsors, friends, and family, we were able to live our dream again. Our riders Javier Robles, Jose "Moño" Contreras, Rusty Repass, and Daniel Webb did a hell of a job navigating through the course! Hats off to Rusty and Daniel that pounded their sections without pre-running. It is like racing blind!
I want to personally thank Paul Hirth and Lee Larsen at Liberty Motorsports for building us a solid motor and carburator that ran without a beat for 1,134 miles in less than two weeks; My buddy Greg Fiddes for reinforcing our frame and not cracking after pounding it for over 27 hours; My buddy and competitor Felipe Velez at Baja ATV Riders Only for setting up our suspension and tire blocks; My close friend/mechanic Jose Nolasco for sponsoring us our tireblocks and allowed us to not worry about no flat tires the entire race; My Tio Mono at Master Exterminators for sponsoring us a set of rear tires; my cousin Raul Gutierrez at Marina's Tax Services for sponsoring us a set of front tires, Dave Nugent at Barker's Performance for setting us up with the most durable exhaust on the planet, Ruly at YaDije, my dad Vicente for helping me put together a bulletproof quad in less than 3 days and helping out with expenses, my cousin Jose for chasing us and helping out with fuel expenses, and my girlfriend Juanita for supporting me and giving me positive vibes that this race would be possible! Also huge thanks to My Tio Victor and Chibuya for chasing us while pre-running the beautiful Baja peninsula!
Words cannot express how happy I am for putting this effort together in a less than a month and having such a flawless run for 1,134 miles. This just proves that we have the best sponsors and supporters to be successful in Baja!