BMW Motorrad successfully contests Baja 1000
There were 431 entries and only 231 finishers in the 2006 Tecate Score-International Baja 1000, but the BMW Motorrad off-road team was one of them, posting 14th overall in the motorcycle class.
There were 431 entries and only 231 finishers in the 2006 Tecate Score-International Baja 1000, but the BMW Motorrad off-road team was one of them, posting 14th overall in the motorcycle class. The team, consisting of riders Beau Hayden, Ron Bishop, Chuck Dempsey, Tony Megla and Peter Postel, tore the 105 horsepower HP2 Enduro equipped with Marzocchi fork through a treacherous 1047-mile course, racing for twenty-four hours straight to reach the finish line at La Paz.
In a race where just surviving is a victory in itself, the team’s 14th overall win was quite an accomplishment – even more so when you factor in that the 13 bikes that finished ahead of the 1200cc HP2 Enduro were all 650ccs or less.
The race began at 6am in Ensenada, with Beau Hayden tearing off the starting line into the coastal morning haze of dust and fog. Hayden did approximately 215 miles to checkpoint 3, just north of Puertocitos and had this to say about the race:
“I started the 22nd bike out of 26 open pro entries. There was no wind but very thick dust and the sun was in my eyes for the first 40 miles of the race. The dust rarely let up during my stint on the bike. My ride was fairly uneventful as I concentrated hard on not making mistakes or misjudgments in the dust. The bike worked flawlessly and I steadily moved forward through the pack. At one point we moved up to approximately 6th overall around Valle de Trinidad. My highlight of the day was crossing El Diablo dry lake bed where I could open up the bike and let it run.”
“It was a tight race up to this point where I would get passed in the very rough areas of the course where there were big whoops and ruts and I would blow back by them in the faster sections. We did a tyre change at pit 3 (mile 185) and three or four riders passed me there. A few riders also passed me during a whoop/rock section prior to checkpoint three and I handed the bike to Ron in 10th place overall.”
Averaging just above 42 mph, the team navigated hundreds of waist-deep water crossings, extremely rocky sections of boulder fields, pitch black night conditions, lava rocks, washouts, and tons of deep, deep silt, not to mention the numerous other surprises that the Baja throws at riders. From local traffic, roaming cattle, and hurricane-ravaged terrain, the hazards were ceaseless, but the team endured to capture a genuinely remarkable result. After Hayden’s first leg, Baja legend Ron Bishop—a veteran of every single Baja 1000 ever run—handled his section smoothly and then Chuck Dempsey took the helm. Chuck had this to say about his section:
“I rode as safely as possible in the whoops because they were pretty big and sandy. I wanted to save the bike for when I got to the fast roads. This was my 21st year racing in the Pro Class down in Baja and I'd have to say that the HP2 Enduro is the fastest bike I have ever ridden in my life. I started passing guys right off the bat which surprised me – when I got on the roads it was like taking candy from a baby.”
“The middle of my section was fast,” Dempsey continued, “but the last 20 miles were tight and rocky so I knew I had to get there as fast as possible before all the guys would pass me back, and then we headed into the night. I turned on the headlight and it lit up for about three seconds, and then turned off. That’s when I knew I was in trouble because Baja is pitch black when there’s no moon. I rode as fast as I could, even though I couldn't see much in front of me. That was a handful on the HP2 Enduro when you can't even see your own fender – and that’s when everybody started passing me back.”
I tried riding next to other riders, but they were not happy with that since I had passed them earlier. So about seven miles from HWY 1 I saw a group o