This is Team SRT’s first try at a SCORE race. The team was very excited to tackle the challenge and felt that we had a good shot at doing well. The 37x (Pro Bike Unlimited) team of Kevin Murphy, Morgan Crawford, Jordan Brandt and Cory Graffunder had a goal of getting on the podium. The 437x (Pro 40+) Team of Craig Thompson, Jeff Evans, Kyle Smith, Guy Comer and Jeff Vogt had a goal of finishing with a class podium.
Most of the team arrived the weekend before to get some pre-running in and to acclimate to the Baja environment. We got treated to really good San Felipe food and some of the best tacos ever! Most of the team had never used a GPS before so we learned how to navigate our sections of the race course. As the week went on, guys became more comfortable with the whole scene.
Race day came quickly but each team was ready to go. The Team SRT Pro Unlimited team was first off the line with ROR Kevin Murphy starting off. We quickly learned that Murphy would be able to hear team communications, but would not be able to communicate back. He ripped off the line when he got the green flag. Things were going well through the start but at RM10 Murph swapped up and took a big get-off in the whoops. It took him a few minutes to get back up and going but at least 2 riders got by him while he was down. He found his groove again but got passed by 2 more riders in the next 16 miles. Murph made it out past check 1 and swapped up again in the whoops and went down even harder this time. After this 2nd get-off, Muphy was avoiding whoops and zig-zagging through the bushes on smooth sand. He eventually made his way to the first Baja Pits at RM 38 and handed off to the next Team SRT rider. We learned later that Murph broke a couple of ribs on the first fall and broke a few more on the 2nd fall and also ended up puncturing his lung.
Murph handed off to Morgan Crawford who rode a flawless 40 miles to the 2nd Baja Pits at RM78 – even with a broken clutch perch on the bike. He got one of the riders back that passed Murph while Larry Serna on the 15x went down earlier in the race, so this put Team SRT into 3rd physically on the course. Morgan handed off to Jordan Brandt who rode a great section as well and extended the lead on 4th place. Murph was supposed to get back on again after Brandt, but he never made it back to his exchange. So Brandt continued on in a section he didn’t pre-run. Cory Graffunder was next up and he heard the news about Murph and that Brandt was riding extra miles so he went to relive Brandt by taking some additional miles himself. Brandt got the bike to Cory and he started to reel in 2nd place. Cory hit all his lines and rode a great section to the end. The 4x in 2nd place was just too far ahead but Team SRT was happy to finish the race physically 3rd. Official results didn’t change the finishing order but Team SRT had no penalties and rode a great race! Murph ended up breaking 7 ribs and a punctured lung. He is still in the hospital recovering in SD.
The Team SRT Pro 40+ team also got a finish, although it was a tough one to make happen. Craig Thompson had a get-off at RM9 and injured his leg. The bike was left there for Team SRT rider, Jeff Vogt, to come find it and continue on. They got the bike around to each rider and eventually finished – not on the podium like they wanted, but a finish is a finish in Baja! Craig’s leg got stitched up at a Mexican Medical clinic and will be fine.