It has been a mixed day for the Australians competing in the 2022 BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000, with Toby Price and Paul Weel's fiery exit balanced by a successful outing for the Kelly Racing-built Ford Ranger Raptor.
Price and Weel were an early exit from this year's event, after their AWD Mason Trophy Truck burst into flames.
While Weel and co-driver Preston Schmid were able to get out of the vehicle unscathed, the Team Australia line-up have been left reeling following the incident.
“I'm devastated for Weely, the Navi's Preston and Kellon, our sponsors and the whole team,” Price said.
“Paul was doing an unreal job running with the front guys. It's just one of those things that unfortunately happen in Motorsport, but I want to thank Paul for giving me the opportunity to run this race, I really think we were in for a good shot.
“Until the next one.”
The sole entry in the Stock Mid-size class, the Raptor is meeting its target race pace of 26mph (42km/h) and is on track to finish the event well within the 36-hour timeline.
The truck has made four stops so far, primarily for fuel, driver changes, as well as standard system and maintenance checks.
As of Race Mile 405 (651km), only one repair has been carried out on the #773, with the light bar needed to be welded back into place.
“It's a pretty intense event, but so far so good,” Off-Road Racing Supervisor at Ford Performance Brian Novak said.
“We're planning on beating the 36-hour time limit by about 10 hours.
“This is a bit more of a test against the race itself, rather than a pure competition against all of the other competitors.
“Baja itself is considered to be the toughest competitor.”
If all goes to plan, Australians Andy and Danny Brown will jump in at the third and final driver change Race Mile 670 (1078km) and will drive from there all the way to the finishing distance of 828.5 miles (1332km).
The ARB boss and his son are expected to take the wheel after Loren Healy and Eric Davis (476m/766km – 670m/1078km).
Fellow father-son pairing Brad Lovell and Byam Lovell (0-200mi/321km), as well as Jason Hutter and Paul Blangsted (200m/321km – 476m/766km), completed the opening two stints.
The 2022 Baja 1000 is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, November 20.