Follow along as we share coverage from our friends WestX1000 from the Baja Rally 2022.

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Baja Rally 2022: The Epilogue

Six Days in Riding Paradise

Key points: As the Rookie #30 Tony Palandrani claims his first stage win, the solid overall victory at the Six Day Baja Rally 2022 goes to #44 Nick Browner from Freedom Rally Team. The experienced Pros #10 Paul Neff and #3 Mike Johnson make it to the second and third Overall, despite the crashes and injuries. One blown engine, two bike replacements, a six unforgettable special stages and 28 happy rally finishers.

Every race has a life of its own. It’s always the same feeling at the end – tired and beaten and definitely happy and full of great memories. At the same time, it’s a bit nostalgic and sad that this is over.

Epilogue. That was the name of the last stage of the Six Days Baja Rally, which took the caravan from Cataviña with its magnificent cacti and sunsets back to the rally headquarters in San Quintin. Short and sweet, just 44 miles. But it still offered a couple of places to get lost, parts definitely affected by yesterday’s rain. It was the final chance to shake up the overall classification, and it didn’t go without some casualties.

Another Fast Rookie. With an enduro and hare scramble background, #30 Tony Palandrani from Santa Cruz is today’s stage winner. Tony and his teammate from Durban Racing, #31 Steve Varni, had their own soul-stirring mission at the race. They brought a can of their friend’s ashes from California, who sadly passed away from Covid recently. And the ashes were scattering into the air at sunrise or sunset in different race locations in memory of him at places where they all loved riding together.

Today was awesome – short, fast single-track. Reminding me of hare scramble racing, it was very muddy because of the rain and slippery. But in general, the event was awesome. That many days staging from Cataviña, it was heaven, and we had incredible weather. I did the best I could, I!m happy with everything, both me and the bike held together.” – Toni Palandrani, Durban Racing

The younger of the fast Kansas brothers #43 Alec Brawner posted the best time of the day, but he received a 20- minute penalty which pushed him back. Yesterday he spent the evening taking the cactus spines out of his hand, and today another insidious prickly obstacle awaited him on the way and put him out of action. Still, with a brilliant performance and several overall podiums, the 22-year-old racer has a bright future in the rally world. There is, by the way, a third Brawner brother, who is also fast but couldn’t make it to the race because of work. If not for Alec’s engine blowing up on the second stage, they would be up for the 1-2-3 place distribution at the race, the young rider said.

“Today was my first chance to open a stage because Nick missed that first corner, and I was really excited about how I was doing. But about 10 kilometers from the end, I caught a barrel cactus and had to put my leg down, so I think I tore something in my knee. I was able to finish without too much pain, and I think I have the fastest time, hopefully. That would be awesome to be a stage winner for the final stage. Without the second stage bike issues, we would!ve a good finish.” – Alec Brawner, Freedom Rally Team

Last day, fate was still owed some victims, and it became the Baja Rally regular (since 2015), Kent Choma, who injured his hand and had to take a shortcut to the pavement. With lesser strict rules than FIM regulations, 28 riders out of 30 managed to end up in the Final Classification even without finishing some stages for technical reasons. We specifically say technical, because minor and even major injuries didn’t stop the following two racers from going on and ending up on the podium – this brings us to the Overall results.

Yes, this is a flawless debut for #44 Nick Brawner. A fast hare scramble racer, he picked up navigation quickly during several trainings and dominated the race with four stage wins out of the six. Plus, one Second place and one fourth. Among his dream races, however, he mentions ISDE first, yet no Dakar – but there are still a lot of pinnacles for him to conquer.

“Today I was taking it easy, so not to crash or do anything crazy…to finish the race. Baja is a killer in general, and as a first rally, it!s awesome and winning is crazy! We might try to hit some more races. Thanks to the Freedom Rally Team for getting us out here and supporting us.” – Nick Brawner, Freedom Rally Team

Despite the Rookies snapping at their heels, the tough experienced riders stood their ground. Cispus cycles Offroad Training School owner #10 Paul Neff and RallyComp developer #3 Mike Johnson have both been through serious crashes, but nevertheless carried on and kept their Second and Third overall podium positions. Paul Neff managed to test the Alpinestars airbag vest on the way, and this experience made him a strong proponent of stricter protective measures at such races. And Mike Johnson did the last two stages with a plaster on his broken left-hand finger, but what can ever stop a Dakar finisher? #1 David Pearson, also from the American Rally Originals, is content with his third place in Pro category:

“Over the years, I tended to be a guy, who needed the medics. So it was nice to finish the race, a beautiful event. The sixth day made it more challenging to keep your bike and body together, but it was good. Competitive all the way, a lot of lead changes, a lot of fun. The plan is Dakar, Saudi Arabia in December. Our Malle Moto group is of five but total it will be 11 Americans in this year!s Dakar in Motorbikes, that!ll be the most ever on record over 45 years.” – David Pearson, American Rally Originals

With a red beard, wide smile, and a good word for everyone, #20 Willem Avenant from South Africa will take away the first trophy in the Rally 1 Category, sharing the podium with ex-Baja Rally Malle Moto winner #21 Benjamin Myers and #56 Rome Haloftis from Canada. In Rookies, who proved to be at times stronger than the more experienced riders, numbers One, Two, and Three are #44 Nick Brawner, #30 Tony Palandrani, and #46 Oswaldo Lara, whose name caused an especially loud wave of applause to support the local beginner rider.

There were two ladies at the race, who successfully made it to the finish – with some penalties, but without DNFs. And both Malle Moto participants have made it, despite being through a lot, especially the only Adventure rider – #41 Brett Fox, on his Triumph 900 Tiger. He finished 15th overall, and that would definitely be much faster without having to change mousses and tubes on four of the six stages.

“I made only two out of six days without some kind of tire issue. But these six days were phenomenal! This is my first time doing a full rally, and it wears your body and mind out. It!s the most hardcore off-road riding I!ve done, and I!ve really learned how to mentally pace myself. It was fun, I want to do more of this. Baja was beautiful, stunning to see. Yes, we are racing, but once in a while you get a moment to look around, especially when you change a tire.” – Brett Fox

Apart from diverse riding terrain and the best Baja views, it’s always about the people, who put their heart into the event. Today, the rally team voted for the two best Moto Medics – volunteers who ride their bikes along the route and provide safety. The solid monetary award, established by the family of the deceased Moto Medics team founder, Patrick Attardo, was presented to Nick Hart, Randy Fish and Eddie Zeller, who would need it to recover after a coyote encounter.

For every participant, the race was their unique story. For someone, it was about overcoming technical difficulties. For others, it was enjoying the nature and views. And perhaps there are those who just love testing their newly acquired riding skills to the max. And that is the most beautiful thing about rallies raid. Bringing together all these unique personalities in one place to go through this adventure together. The bivouac packed and left with no trace; the Valle de Los Cirios went back to quiet. But the Baja Rally team is already thinking about the improvements and surprises for the next event. The General Director Mauricio Parra Aguilar is looking forward to grow the Baja Rally family. So stay tuned!

Stage 6 Unofficial Results


  1. #30 Tony Palandrani (USA)
  2. #10 Paul Neff (USA)
  3. #1 David Pearson (USA)
  4. #44 Nick Brawner (USA)
  5. #3 Mike Johnson (USA)
  6. #21 Benjamin Myers (USA)
  7. #6 Patrick Reyes (Mexico)
  8. #22 Carlos Garcia (Global)
  9. #31 Steve Varni (USA)
  10. #33 Mo Hart (USA)


  1. #10 Paul Neff (USA)
  2. #1 David Pearson (USA)
  3. #3 Mike Johnson (USA)

Rally 1

  1. #21 Benjamin Myers (USA)
  2. #56 Rome Haloftis (Canada)
  3. #20 Willem Avenant (South Africa)


  1. #30 Tony Palandrani (USA)
  2. #44 Nick Brawner (USA)
  3. #22 Carlos Garcia (Global)

Provisional General Classification


  1. #44 Nick Brawner (USA)
  2. #10 Paul Neff (USA)
  3. #3 Mike Johnson (USA)
  4. #30 Tony Palandrani (USA)
  5. #1 David Pearson (USA)
  6. #46 Oswaldo Lara (Mexico)
  7. #33 Mo Hart (USA)
  8. #20 Willem Avenant (South Africa)
  9. #21 Benjamin Myers (USA)
  10. #22 Carlos Garcia (Global)


  1. #10 Paul Neff (USA)
  2. #3 Mike Johnson (USA)
  3. #1 David Pearson (USA)

Rally 1

  1. #20 Willem Avenant (South Africa)
  2. #21 Benjamin Myers (USA)
  3. #56 Rome Haloftis (Canada)


  1. #44 Nick Brawner (USA)
  2. #30 Tony Palandrani (USA)
  3. #46 Oswaldo Lara (Mexico)