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Head Of The Class Joe Bolton Marches To A 2023 SCORE Pro UTV NA Class Championship Story by Stuart Bourdon Photos by Get Some Photo  Veteran desert racer Joe Bolton and his team fought hard for the 2023 SCORE World Desert Racing Championship. It did not come to them easily, but the team’s preparation and consistency paid off. Among the many things Bolton and his crew had going for them heading into the 2023 SCORE desert racing season, was a record of high-position finishes. In recent Pro UTV NA class races, Bolton has recorded 13 finishes in the top five, nine in third place, five in second place, and two first-in-class wins. The 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship season began with the SCORE San Felipe 250. Campaigning a Polaris RZR Pro R, Bolton placed first in the Pro UTV NA class with a 10-minute lead over the nearest competitor. It had been a trouble-plagued day with the three flat tires on a racecourse thought by many drivers to be the roughest in the four-race SCORE series. Bolton said, “We changed them quickly, and got on our way. Other than that, it was a perfect day.” After a first-in-class win at the season-opener race, expectations were running high. The 2023 SCORE Baja 500 was extraordinarily rough due to flood-inducing rainstorms that ravaged Baja from top to bottom. Bolton told us, “We led the Baja 500 for the first 250 miles, then started having a lot of problems with the car. We wound up third in class, but we still managed to rack up some more champ points.” September brought the SCORE Baja 400. Again, Bolton missed the class win, landing in second place in the Pro UTV NA class. Bolton’s son Austin was the second driver. “We battled two other guys in our class all day and that’s when first place got away from us,” he said. “But considering we broke and replaced an axle, our overall result was great.” The final race of the 2023 SCORE World Desert Racing Championship, held in mid-November, was one for the history books. It was the first time the SCORE Baja 1000 ran northward from La Paz to Ensenada, and it was the second-longest SCORE Baja 1000 in history at 1,310 miles of rugged and fatiguing racecourse. Bolton got off to a great start and led the race for quite a while but had to stop and replace a broken differential in the middle of the night. That downtime for repair cost the team the win. Despite that, Bolton finished second, which pushed him to the top of the champs point matrix, delivering him the 2023 SCORE World Desert Racing Championship. “It’s been a long time since we had a champ title,” said Bolton. “But the best thing about winning this championship was doing it with my son Austin.”

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