For years, Honda has been the team to beat at Baja, thanks largely in part to Johnny Campbell’s dominance as a racer and then team manager.
But, with Kawasaki’s win at the Baja 500 on the weekend, along with Marc Coma’s third-place finish, it looks as if that might change.
Kawasaki’s three-man team ( Robby Bell, Menifee/David Pearson/Steve Hengeveld) managed a 9:11:33 finish, ahead of Johnny Campbell’s J.C.R. Honda team (Colton Udall/Timmy Weigand/David Kamo). It was Kawasaki’s first win at the event since 1996.
Marc Coma’s finish with Kurt Caselli, Mike Brown and Ivan Ramirez in third place for KTM (with a 9:18:39 time) is big news (and bad news for Honda) as well. Coma and fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres are arguably the world’s two greatest desert racers. With Coma showing interest in racing Baja again, the other racers in the Mexican series must be wondering if Despres is going to show up to race as well.
Of course, since the Baja is almost always raced as a relay, the ultimate treat for off-road racing fans would be to see Coma and Despres team up, ideally at the Baja 1000. It’s true their racing dominance comes in rally raid racing, a different form of off-roading than the all-out Baja events, but a Coma/Despres team-up would put Baja on the map internationally, taking its popularity outside North America.