Team Honda Racing Ridgeline Is The 2018 Baja 500 Champion

Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

The 50th Anniversary of the SCORE Baja 500 will stand out as a remarkable off road race not easily forgotten. For the racers it will be known as the toughest and most grueling course in recent memory. Team Honda Racing Ridgeline driver, Jeff Proctor won the Class 7 Unlimited division finishing nearly two hours ahead of the 2nd place finisher to be crowned the 2018 Baja 500 Champion.

Off road desert racing is the proving ground where man and machine are put to the test. It was no different for the 50th Golden Anniversary, if not even more of a challenge. The Baja 500 featured a record long 542 miles of pure punishment and plenty of opportunity to surpass the vehicle limits. “This was one of the toughest and most challenging Baja 500 course we have ever raced” Jeff Proctor admitted.

Jeff Proctor started and drove the #709 Honda Racing HPD Ridgeline to race mile 270. Pat Daily drove to the finish completing the race course with a total time of 14 Hours, 36 Minutes, and 46 Seconds with an average speed of 37.10 Miles Per Hour. 2nd place finisher, Dan Chamlee (5x Baja 500 Champion) required over 16 Hours to complete the course.

The Baja desert is the great equalizer and equipment failures are the #1 factor determining race results. When the race course officially closed, only 187 of 321 starters (58.26 percent) completed the Baja 500 race course. The course ran through Northern Baja California starting in Ensenada Arroyo and worked inland towards the rolling hills of Ojos Negros and down the treacherous Goat Trail into the scenic Valle de Trinidad. Once hitting the desert floor of the El Diablo Dry Lake bed the racers hit triple digit speeds before climbing their way back up towards the rough and rocky roads of Mike’s Sky Rancho. The course led racers through the farm roads of Rancho El Coyote and Rancho Meling before heading west towards the coast. Camalu, Colonet, and along the weathered beach of Erendira was the route back into Ensenada.

Starting 4th off the line in Class 7 Unlimited, Driver; Jeff Proctor and Navigator; Even Weller, right from the get-go, encountered blinding dust from competing racers ahead. This early section of the course is very tight cornering and steep canyon walls. It would be easy to make a mistake and take yourself out of contention. Jeff determined the best strategy would be to drive conservatively and patient while holding position, then to finally pass the slower traffic in clean open air. This patience paid off as soon as they approached the rolling jumps in Ojos Negros. Proctor pushed the Honda Ridgeline and overtook 3 positions to assume the lead physically by race mile 55.

Proctor and Weller encountered a bottleneck around race mile 70 in some deep silt with multiple stuck vehicles. “Once the dust began to settle, it looked like a grave yard of stuck vehicles” said Navigator Evan Weller. Fortunately, the pair was able to pick their way through thick brush and navigate a sand wash around the issue only costing them about 4-5 minutes. Now that they were able to find clear air, Proctor was focused on running a conservative pace while also trying to gap the field that may have been stuck behind them.

At the near half way point of race mile 270, Team Honda planned a scheduled pit stop for a full fuel dump, fresh rear KMC Wheels / General Tires, and a driver change. After the well-executed and flawless pit stop, Driver; Patrick Dailey and Navigator; Billy Baroody took over heading for Mike’s Sky Ranch and onward to the coast with a 21 minute lead over second place.

As the sun began to set over Baja, Pat and Billy turned on the KC HiLites and continued to extend the lead. The Honda Ridgeline equipped with FOX shocks and Eibach Springs, raced through the rugged twists and turns of Baja running at maximum performance thanks to NEO Synthetic Oil and AEM Air Filters towards Ensenada. Over 540 miles and a little over 14 hours later, The Honda Ridgeline proved to be tough enough to take the checkered flag for a 1st place victory celebration. This is the second Baja 500 win for the Honda Ridgeline in three years and third straight podium finish: 2016 – 1st, 2017 – 3rd, 2018 – 1st.

“It’s difficult to describe my feelings about what it means to win this race. I am so proud of our entire team! We couldn’t race at this level without the commitment and continued support of our partners and crew! Thanks to Honda Racing / HPDGeneral TireFOXKC HilitesKMC WheelsSparcoEibach SpringsNEO Synthetic OilRPI RacingPCI Race RadiosAEM Air FiltersPro EagleJE REEL Driveline and STEEL-IT Coatings,” said Jeff Proctor.

For all the latest 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.