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UTV CLASSES FIGHT HARD More Than 50 Teams Took On The La Paz To Ensenada SCORE BaJa 1000 By Larry Saavedra Photos by Get Some Photo More than 50 UTV race teams made their way to La Paz, Mexico, for the start of the BFGoodrich Tires 56th SCORE Baja 1000 presented by K&N, each vying for a chance to take on the challenge of the most demanding desert race on the planet. Teams used various race strategies in this historically long endurance race that stretched more than 1,310 miles across some of the fastest and technically challenging terrain. This included two sections of deep silt– deep enough to swallow many of the UTVs in their tracks. Adding to the excitement, it was the first time ever that competitors would run the SCORE Baja 1000 course from south to north, starting in La Paz, carving a path past Puerto San Carlos and inland toward Loreto, and out to San Ignacio before arriving at Bahia De Los Angeles and finally at the finish in Ensenada. This was the last race in the 2023 SCORE World Desert Racing series, and some of the best teams had everything on the line, hoping to take the coveted 2023 SCORE UTV Points Championship and class wins, while others simply wanted to cross the finish line unscathed. Pro UTV Open Polaris came out to win, and its factory racer Cayden MacCachren in the No. 1821 RZR proved he had the talent to get the job done. He crossed the finish line with a tight lead on other Polaris competitors, including Justin Lambert in the No. 1869 car and Brock Heger in the No.1896 car, who finished second and third place, respectively. “We had the lead at the start and were setting up a strong pace but ended up having an issue that costed us about 40 minutes,” said Heger. “From there, we just put our heads down and tried to get back in the fight. We came in leading the points and had that in the back of our minds. We wanted to win the race but also wanted to play it smart.” Branden Sims, who won last year’s SCORE Baja 1000 in the No. 1886 Polaris RZR, unfortunately, had some setbacks and crossed the finish line in fourth place. Another fan favorite, Mike Cafro, took fifth place in the No. 1876 Polaris RZR after a daring effort. The competition in this class was tough, with Heger, Lambert, Sims, and Kristen Matlock battling it out the first 100 miles. By mile-marker 176, Lambert took the physical lead. Then, around mile marker 528, with co-driver Justin Morgan in the driver’s seat of MacCachren’s Polaris RZR, the team made an incredible run on the field and never looked back. The team’s third co-driver was Rhys Millen, who then charged to the finish for an unforgettable win. Pro UTV Forced Induction Can-Am swept Pro UTV FI with factory race teams Murray Racing in the No. 2917 Maverick X3 crossing the finish line officially in first, Matt Burroughs in the No. 2948 Maverick R in second, and Phil Blurton in the No. 2944 Maverick R coming in third place. The first win of the season for brothers Jason and Derek Murray also gave them the UTV Overall Points Championship. More on their season championship in the SCORE Journal January 2024 issue. Jason started the race for Murray Racing and was the second UTV out of the gates in class. Burroughs started sixth, but his factory team worked their way to the front of the pack. Meanwhile, Blurton would start last in class. He eventually weaved his way into position by making incredible passes. By mile-marker 480, Blurton led the race against a competitive field. However, technical issues tagged his team early, opening the door for Murray Racing and Burroughs’ team to sneak in. A back-and-forth for the physical lead would span hundreds of miles. While some UTV racers had difficulty maneuvering around the bottlenecks, nothing seemed to phase Burroughs’ team and Murray Racing, and they put some distance on the field for Burroughs to finish about 30 minutes behind Murray for second place. “I normally start, so I was really happy to do the South sections,” said Burroughs. “I have never driven down there before. I really enjoyed it. The course was rough as heck– and muddy. We had fuel pump and fuel filter issues all day. So that cost us the win, but if we can’t win it, we are happy that the Murray brothers won and we will take second place.” After making repairs to his vehicle, Blurton managed to catch up to Burroughs, crossing the finish line right behind him to get on the podium. “We had a really good time, and this is a new platform for Can-Am,” said Blurton. “We came down here to test and get some miles on the car. It was a pretty smooth ride and we’re happy about it.” Pro UTV Normally Aspirated Joe Bolton in the No. 1957 Polaris was a heavy favorite in the SCORE Baja 1000, but Lawrence Janesky in the No. 1914 Honda Talon managed to take first place by finishing minutes ahead of Bolton. After the start, Bolton had the lead, but his team had to replace the differential at night, and Janesky was able to make his move into first and never looked back. Bolton had podium finishes at each of the last three races. “We started the day very well and ran first and second all day,” said Bolton. “We got through the horrible silt in Loreto where there was 15-20 people stuck. Then we had a problem that costed us about 40 minutes. This was an incredibly special race and we wanted to win it, even if it risked the championship. We were able to pass Janesky for the lead, but then we had a front-arm buckle.” David Pedder in the No. 1984 Honda Talon came in third ahead of Zack Sizelove in the No. 1925 Honda Talon. “It was a long race, obviously, but the first 500 miles were smooth sailing,” said Pedder. “We broke a fuel regulator at about 200 miles to the finish and that was a five-hour delay to replace it. But we finished and that’s all that matters. This was our second SCORE race and we’re only racing Baja from now on. There’s nothing like it.” Pro Stock UTV In a heartfelt tribute to family patriarch Ken Block, the mother-daughter of team Block House, Lucy and Lia Block, won their first SCORE Baja 1000 in the No. 3943K Can-Am. They paired up with Rodrigo Ampudia and Terry Madden to finish ahead of Jorge Cano in the No. 3936 Can-Am by over an hour. Cano took second place, followed by Antonio Mendez in the No. 3959 Polaris RZR for third place. “We got a little bit of everything today,” said Cano. “The course was tough and we got five flat tires. We also got stuck on the silt, but we managed to get the car going again and made it here. We lost our 4-wheel drive, our brakes, and I don’t know how we managed to go through the last 100 miles.” This was Mendez’s first SCORE Baja 1000 race, and he and the team were happy with the finish. “We’re very tired, but the race went well and we’re safe,” he said. “We had all sorts of problems with the car and also struggled a bit going around competitors that got stuck in the silt. We also had to replace a clutch, and had about six hours of downtime. I love racing and my first SCORE Baja 1000 was fun from start to finish.” SJ OFFICIAL FINISHERS PRO UTV OPEN  (two-seat open UTV open-displacement) (15 Starters, 10 Finishers) 1. 1821 Cayden MacCachren, 21, Las Vegas/Justin Morgan, 33, El Cajon, CA/Rhys Millen, 51, Huntington Beach, CA (New Zealand), Polaris RZR Pro R, 27:25:03 (47.81 miles per hour) 2. 1869 Justin Lambert, 48, Bakersfield, CA/Scott Trafton, 41, Alpine, CA/Adrian Orellana, Polaris RZR Pro R4, 27:32:25 3. 1896 Brock Heger, 23, El Centro, CA/Ronnie Anderson, 23, Riverside, CA/J.D. Marsh, Star, ID, Polaris RZR Pro R, 27:47:35 4. 1886 Branden Sims, 37, Prescott Valley, AZ/Skyler Howell, UT, Polaris RZR Pro R, 28:10:22 5. 1876 Mike Cafro, 53, Temecula, CA/Jamie Kirkpatrick, 42, Olympia, Wash./Adan Leggs, Ensenada, MX, Polaris RZR Pro R; 29:13:22 6. 1854 Kristen Matlock, 43, Alpine, CA/Eliott Watson, 23, El Centro, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 29:25:15 7. 1895 Kaden Wells, 25, Hurricane, UT/Travis Wells, Hurricane, UT, Polaris RZR Pro R, 29:58:41 8. 1841 Dylan Schmoke, 30, Santee, CA/Larry Job, 55, Las Vegas/James Hill, 38, Lake Elsinore, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 33:29:30 9. 1885 Tyler Backus, 40, Canada/Trent Backus, Canada, Polaris RZR Pro R, 34:21:32 10. 1899 Kyle Ahrensberg, 35, San Diego/Doug Mittag, 29, Winchester, CA/Keegan Kincaid, 33, Argonne, Wisc./Rick L. Johnson, 58, Lake Havasu City, AZ, Polaris RZR Pro R, 34:33:54 PRO UTV FI (two-seat Forced Induction, OEM engine UTVs) (18 Starters, 14 Finishers 1. 2917 Jason Murray, 40, North Tustin, CA/Derek Murray, 39, Yorba Linda, CA/PJ Jones, 54, Cave Creek, AZ/Michael McFadden, Can-Am X3, 29:33:05 (44.36 miles per hour) 2. 2948 Matt Burroughs, 54, Norco, CA/Dustin Jones, 39, Shreveport/Bradley Howe, 34, Leona Valley, CA, Can-Am X3, 30:10:36 3. 2944 Phil Blurton, 37, Auburn, CA/Beau Judge, 45, Rockland, CA, Can-Am Maverick R, 30:26:55 4. 2915 Rickey Arslanian, 41, Livermore, CA/Brian Cooper, 37, Santa Rosa, CA/Kevin Fox, 32, Santa Rosa, CA, Polaris RZR XP1000, 33:54:55 5. 2905 Marc Burnett, 52, Chula Vista, CA/Todd Clark, 53, San Clemente, CA/Victor Herrera, 52, Temecula, CA, Can-Am X3, 36:08:34 6. 2911 Aaron Aguilar, 51, Hermosillo, MX/Martin Bringas, 54, Tijuana, MX/Fermin Flores, 46, Hermosillo, MX/Juan Delgadillo, 42, Chula Vista, CA, Can-Am Maverick X3, 37:57:47 7. 2901 Leobardo Gomez, 44, Tijuana, MX/Leobardo Gomez Jr, 20, Tijuana, MX/Fernando del Campo, 39, San Diego/Rigoberto Cabrera, 45, Tijuana, MX/Rigoberto Cabrera Jr, 27, Tijuana, MX/Mario Amezcua, 47, Tijuana, MX, Polaris RZR XP1000, 39:52:40 8. 2928 Carlos A. Quezada, 44, Mexicali, MX/Cesar Castillo, 39, Mexicali, MX/Carlos Quezada Jr, 22, Mexicali, MX, Can-Am X3, 40:42:02 9. 2981 Fernando Kabande, 64, Ensenada, MX/Cesar Leon, 36, Tijuana, MX/Francisco Verdugo, 31, Ensenada, MX/Esteva Estrada, Ensenada, MX, Can-Am Maverick X3, 44:14:57 10. 2995 Matt Montieth, 38, Canada/Jody Potire, Canada, Polaris RZR XP1000, 45:15:30 11. 2930 Sean Cook, 57, Twain Harte, CA/Carlos Diaz, San Diego/Nathan McBride, Reno, Nev./Ross Bohlin/Darwin A., Can-Am X3, 46:18:60 12. 2935 Tomas Cantor, 38, Los Cabos, MX/Carlos Gutierrez, 30, Los Cabos, MX/Victor Castro, 47, Los Cabos, MX/Jhoan Martinez, 30, Los Cabos, MX, Can-Am X3, 46:29:28 13. 2929 Damian Velasco, 17, Agua Dulce, CA/Arturo Velasco, 41, Agua Dulce, CA/Jose Murillo, 41, Arieta, CA, Can-Am X3, 48:04:22 14. 2976 Jesus Mendez Jr, 26, Mexicali, MX/Jesus Mendez Sr, 56, Mexicali MX/Luis Melesio Solis, La Paz, MX/Rodimiro Amaya, La Paz, MX, Can-Am Maverick XRS, 48:16:35 PRO UTV NA  (two-seat Normally Aspirated, OEM engine UTVs) (4 Starters, 3 Finishers) 1. 1914 Larry Janesky, 59, Middlebury, CN/Dustin Gebers, 40, Chapmansboro, Tenn./Victor Abitia, 37, Rosarito Beach, MX/Mark Daconto, 59, Oxford, CN, Honda Talon, 36:01:10 (36.40 miles per hour) 2. 1957 Joe Bolton, 66, Corona, CA/Austin Bolton, 28, Corona, CA/Mike Lesle, 63, Wildomar, CA/Matt Banuelos, 43, Whittier, CA, Polaris RZR XP1000, 36:09:02 3. 1984 David Pedder, 54, Rancho Santa Fe, CA/Luis Sandoval, 43, Lake Elsinore, CA/Ricardo Torres, 27, Lake Elsinore, CA/David Blaisdel, 48, Temecula, CA/Roger Malcom, 50, San Clemente, CA/Cory Susag, 49 Mission Viejo, CA, Honda Talon, 43:37:35 PRO UTV STOCK (Stock UTVs, FI or NA) (17 Starters, 8 Finishers) 1. 3943K Lucy Block, 48, Park City, UT/Lia Block, 17, Park City, UT/Rodrigo Ampudia, 39, Ensenada, MX/Terry Madden, 46, Pioneertown, CA, Can-Am Maverick R, 35:50:39 (36.57 miles per hour) 2. 3936 Jorge Cano, 49, Culiacan, MX/Francisco Ritz, 43, Culiacan, MX/Raul Peraza, 26, Ensenada, MX/Jorge Patraca, 49, Culiacan, MX/Adrian Peraza, 31, Ensenada, MX, Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo XRC, 37:14:24 3. 3959 Antonio Mendez, 58, Puebla, MX/Alonso Gonzales, 41, Ensenada, MX/Edmumdo Fernandez, 57, Ensenada, MX/Miguel Rosales, 56, Ensenada, MX, Polaris RZR XP4, 40:05:06 4. 3924 Ricardo Zaragoza, 44, Culiacan, MX/Marco Valenzuela, 35, Ensenada, MX/ Edgar Knapp, 30, Culiacan, MX/Efrain Mejia, 46, Culiacan, MX/Roberto Gonzalez, 51, Culiacan, MX/Roberto Gonzalez Jr, Culiacan, MX, Can-Am X3, 42:13:13 5. 3943 Dennis Romero, 43, Charlotte, N.C./Oscar Ibarra, 21, Ensenada, MX, Can-Am X3, 44:01:27 6. 3908 Scott Bergen, 42, San Diego/Zach Hydeman, 35, San Diego, Can-Am X3, 47:10:21 7. 3900 Anibal Lopez, 40, Mexicali, MX/Daniel Gonzalez, 40, San Luis, MX/Francisco Lopez, 45, Mexicali, MX/Martin Munoz, 35, Mexicali, MX/Hector Beltran, 43, Mexicali, MX, Polaris RZR Turbo R, 47:15:52 8. 3969 Brandon Medina, 37, Vista, CA/Cameron Reeves, CA/Andrew McFederies, New Zealand/Alastair Miles, New Zealand/Jeremy Chapman, New Zealand, Polaris Turbo S, 49:26:45

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