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Mister Consistent Kaden Wells Finds A Spot On The Podium All Season To Take The SCORE Pro UTV NA Championship By Larry Saavedra Photos by Get Some Photo Portrait Photo by Jack Wright NMedia3 Factory Polaris racer Kaden Wells of Risq Racing has done it again. For the fourth time as a factory Polaris rider, Wells in the No. 1995 RZR XP1000 took home the Pro UTV Naturally Aspirated Class Championship with consistent podium finishes throughout the 2022 SCORE World Desert Racing series– but not without a hard-fought battle against fellow Polaris factory racer Joe Bolton. Wells ended the season with 447 points to Bolton’s 442. Wells and navigator Emma Cornwell started the season with a simple strategy– “gas it and go for it.” But there were times when that straightforward plan of attack seemed to be in jeopardy. Looking back at the 2022 SCORE World Desert Racing series, here’s how it played out for Wells. Overheating at the San Felipe 250 There were six starters in the SCORE Pro UTV NA class. Bolton in the No. 1957 Polaris wasn’t going to make it easy on Wells. While Wells took the early lead at the SCORE San Felipe 250, he immediately developed mechanical issues. “I think it was at race mile three where we first encountered overheating issues,” he said. Overheating continued throughout the entire race for Wells. Then, racing through Matomi Wash, his jack came off the Polaris and punctured a hole in the valve cover which could have put an end to his race. “I also had a coil failure and I was running on one cylinder,” he said. These issues created the opening that Bolton had hoped for, and while Bolton also had trouble of his own, he seized the opportunity to take over the lead from Wells, eventually placing first in class. Wells ended up in third place. Falling Apart at the BaJa 500 The SCORE Baja 500 saw eight competitors in SCORE UTV Pro NA with Bolton and Wells still neck and neck in points. “It was going well until about mile marker 200 when our car decided to fall apart,” Wells said. “Both rear axles and our power steering unit failed. It happened near Mike’s Sky Ranch and we were able to make the repairs, but the power steering bracket failed again and I ran the rest of the race without power steering.” Once again, Wells ended up in third place. It wasn’t the outcome he had hoped for, and Bolton was still ahead in points going into the Baja 400. “I was definitely worried about the championship,” he said. Muddy Mess at the BaJa 400 “My whole mindset was going for it one hundred percent,” Wells said. “I knew the championship was in jeopardy.” Fortunately, the field was small with only three competitors racing, but he also knew he could DNF if he had any major issue. By the time race day approached, Wells knew his Polaris was sorted out. He was right– the Polaris ran flawlessly. “It was gas and go for us,” said Wells. “We only got out of the car once and that was to help a Class 10 competitor,” he said. Wells said the course for the first 200 miles was pretty technical and the hurricane created a lot of mud. “There were big ruts and impacts throughout, but it was fun.” Wells took the lead after the first speed zone and never let up. He maintained more than an hour’s lead on his closest competitor in the class. Wells took first place and Bolton took second place. Showdown at the BaJa 1000 The points race between Wells and Bolton was too close to call and everything depended on the outcome at the SCORE Baja 1000. “We went into it thinking that we had to win because of the smaller driver count,” Wells said. “It was a back-and-forth race between Joe and me at the start. It was a really long race at speed.” Wells’ optimism would not last long though. His Polaris developed a stuck injector and they were losing power. He had a great lead, but by Ojos Negros, it had shrunk to last place. Wells decided to re-tune the ECU to see if that fixed the fuel delivery issues, but by that time Bolton had taken the lead. After solving the problem with the fuel delivery, Wells chased down Bolton and the others and battled it out briefly with Zach Sizelove in the No. 1925 Honda Talon 1000R. Comfortably in the lead again, Wells and navigator Cornwell maintained their speed and were able to continue without further mechanical issues. They cruised across the finish line in first place adding another 148 points to their total. Meanwhile, Sizelove took second, Elias Hanna in the No. 1920 Honda Talon 1000R took third, and Bolton finished fourth. After the win and taking his fourth Pro UTV NA class championship, Wells was obviously relieved and wants to move into another competitive class. “I plan to move up to Pro UTV Open with the new Polaris Pro R,” he said. “The main difference is twice the horsepower. Our shock testing is showing that we will pick up some speed in rough stuff like in San Felipe. With racers like Mike Cafro, Craig Scanlon, and Kristen Matlock in Pro UTV Open, the competition just kicked up a notch there,” he said. “I’ll still have to deal with things that can happen mechanically so none of that changes, but I’ll be much more prepared in 2023.” Wells figures he’ll need to rethink his chase teams and beef up the spare parts list, but he says he is ready for any challenge. SJ

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