Ryan Villopoto Gets A Taste Of The Baja 1000 With Brenthel

December 1, 2015


Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

Brenthel Industries took on the 48th SCORE Baja 1000 (B1K) with a two-truck assault in the Trophy Truck Spec class. Driving the Falken Tire #872 was Jordan Brenthel and Jamie Galles who quickly jumped out to the lead. The Monster Energy #873 was piloted by Jonathan Brenthel and 4x Supercross champion Ryan Villopoto who also made their way up to the lead pack. Running up front was the payoff for countless hours of preparation.


A brutal race like the Baja 1000 takes a huge amount of time, effort, and resources just to get to the starting line. In addition to miscellaneous spare parts that include steering racks and transmissions, 400 gallons of fuel and 42 Falken Wildpeak tires are distributed to six chase trucks on race day. Crew members, supplies, and spare parts are spread across hundreds of miles of remote Baja desert.

This year’s B1K was an 840 mile loop race. It travelled south along the Pacific coast, turned east past Punta Blanco towards highway one, then headed north along the gulf coast to San Felipe before returning to Ensenada. After miles of unforgiving silt, racers still had to get through the whooped out sand around San Felipe. It was like running the Baja 500 and the San Felipe 250 in one shot.


The Brenthel Brothers, Jonathan and Jordan, and teammate Jamie Galles, have run many miles of Baja trails. For Ryan Villopoto, it was all new. More accustomed to heat races on man-made tracks, the distances, remoteness, and ruggedness of the terrain, was a whole new experience for Villopoto. The plan was to have Jonathan start and make his way outside Ensenada. Ryan would then take over driving and head down the coast while the sun was still out. As most Baja races go, plan A didn’t work out despite Jonathan starting 10th and handing the truck off in 6th. Ryan got in the car and was doing well, but the steering rack sheared the mounting bolts which cost more time and the repair was not 100%.


For a highly successful, multi-time champion like Ryan, it made no sense to keep going in a truck with a temporary repair and no chance to win. If they were racing towards a championship, they would have to continue but knowing what a huge eye-opener it already was for Ryan, Jonathan decided it was better to let him experience the cheering crowds and spare him from a possible cold, hungry night in the middle of nowhere due to a broken truck. They decided it was better to save the truck for another day. Giving Ryan his first taste of Baja was a good time for all and Ryan is excited to do it again.

For Jordan Brenthel and Jamie Galles, they were in the hunt for a championship. They took control of the race early by getting out front and staying there. The truck was running strong as they clicked off mile after mile. As they rounded a blind corner, they had to brake hard to avoid hitting a Trophy Truck stuck in the silt. The sudden stop trapped them too in the bottomless pit of powdered dirt. It took hours, but they dug themselves out and clawed their way back up again; finishing in fifth place. Fifty percent of the field was beaten by Baja. Out of 16 starters, only 8 finished.


“I put in a lot of time prerunning the course and keeping good notes on the course,” said Jordan, “We pre-ran the course fast, we did it slow, we spent long weekends getting it right; we were real confident going in that we had a chance for a solid finish. My co-driver Trey Palreiro started the race. In the early going, I got ahead of myself and blew a corner. It turned out to be a good thing because I relaxed and got my head on straight. It sounds strange but the goal was to run conservative but quick. All the prerunning we did paid off. I was able to stay out of the dust and choose when to make my passes. We got around several trucks without having to nerf or drive blind off course.”


“We stopped for a splash of fuel at Santo Thomas in the lead. We pulled out of our pit and had a truck right on our bumper through the speed zone. As soon as we could, I opened it up, and they disappeared in the rear view mirror. It was after dark when we came around a tight corner and found a Trophy Truck buried in the silt. There was no way to avoid him; we were stuck too. He got pulled out by another competitor but they left us there. We spent hours digging out and seized the jack because of the silt. As we worked, we noticed some cars were coming back and searching for an alternate route. There must have been a huge bottleneck ahead. We eventually got pulled free and found our own way around but hurt the transmission in the process; that put a lot of pressure on us. We had only second gear, no first gear, and no reverse. It left us no room for error with 600 miles to go. We ran it that way for 250 miles until we could meet the crew. They changed it and Jamie took over driving; I had been going for 18 hours. He did a great job taking the truck to the finish with no issues.”


Strong runs all season put the #872 in a podium position in the Championship standings and would not have been possible without strong support from the crew and the team’s sponsors; Falken Tire, Rigid Industries, Method Race Wheels, BajaKits, Torco, Jamar, CBM and King Shocks. No other car builder submits their vehicles to the kind of punishment Brenthel does. Regardless if you are competing in the toughest races in the United States, Baja Mexico or the Dakar Rally; Brenthel has been there and put all the knowledge gained right back into their designs. Created in CAD and then proven on the race course, Brenthel Industries leads the way by design. Any job you have, big or small can benefit from Brenthel’s meticulous engineering and precise craftsmanship. Go to http://brenthelindustries.com or http://www.bajakits.com to find out more about the many services, highly developed suspension systems and race-proven products available from Brenthel Industries.

Photography By: Bink Designs & GetSome Photo