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BROKEN BUT NOT BEATEN Mike Cafro Overcomes Obstacles To Win The Pro UTV Open Class By Mike Vieira Photos by Get Some Photo Mike Cafro and co-driver Jamie Kirkpatrick shared the time behind the wheel of their Polaris RZR to bring home a win in the Pro UTV Open Class in this year’s SCORE Baja 400, after second-place finishes in both the SCORE San Felipe 250 and the SCORE Baja 500. Cafro’s win keeps him in the class points lead for the season so far, with hopes for capturing the championship with the upcoming 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented by 4 Wheel Parts. Before the race, Cafro was hoping to take the overall UTV win, but some small troubles during the race put that goal out of reach. Near Mike’s Sky Ranch, Cafro missed a turn, and in the process of getting turned around, ran over a branch and suffered a punctured tire. While changing the tire in the rugged terrain, the car fell of the jack. “Changing a tire that would normally take under two minutes, took ten minutes, and some of the other cars got past us there,” said Cafro. Another issue that plagued the team early-on in the race was a broken rear sway bar link. “It made the car just a little more of a handful to drive. It wasn’t that you couldn’t drive it, but to go the pace that you need to go for the overall, you have to be spot-on,” he said. “You can’t have issues. It’s tough nowadays. These guys are so fast, and so flawless, if you want to get the overall, you’ve got to be on it.” Rather than take the extra time needed to fix the link, the team decided to continue on, and compensate for the reduced handling capabilities. The team is preparing a new car for the SCORE Baja 1000, and actually was hoping to have it ready earlier in the season. Because of that plan, they were competing with much faster vehicles in the Open Class than they would have in their previous Pro Stock UTV class, in which they won every race in 2021. Kristen Matlock and Mike Pratt both took the lead in Open Class during the race, but both suffered problems that put them out of contention, and Cafro’s main battle for the win ended up being with Craig Scanlon, whom he bested by 27 minutes. After nearly thirty years of Baja racing experience, Cafro says this race was one of the best. “I really enjoyed the course. Most of late have been badass, in my opinion. The more challenging the course is, the more technical the terrain is, the rockier, anything like mud or rain, only benefits us. I’d rather have it harder than easier, for sure.” With the class win Cafro starts first and is looking forward to being in clean air for the SCORE Baja 1000, and of course, being in his brand new car. “It’s a little risker than staying with something you know, but I feel that to be competitive, I have to be in one of these new car because they are way, way, faster,” he says. “Getting the car done, tested, and having zero issues, that’s the challenge. We definitely have to drive to the extreme of our vehicle’s belt temps and belt capabilities in these UTVs, but these new cars are way more stout.” With a faster, more capable car, and if he can indeed avoid problems, Mike Cafro is in a great position to capture the SCORE Pro UTV Open Class championship and add that to his impressive career record. SJ

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