SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal - January 2018

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 71 of 95

Back On Top After struggling over the past two seasons, Marc Burnett pulls off his second SCORE UTV Championship By Dan Sanchez Photos By Get Some Photo Marc Burnett’s UTV racing history is filled with seasons that went bust to championship status. While many racers can attest to that same rollercoaster ride, Burnett has never backed down since he began UTV racing in 2013. During the 2014 SCORE World Desert Challenge, Burnett in a new Polaris won the Pro UTV class championship. That season was followed by two years of defeats, broken bones, vehicles that caught on fire and more. During the 2015 season, his best finish was eighth at the SCORE Baja Sur 500. In 2016 his team moved into a new Can-Am vehicle and began winning races again, taking first at the San Felipe 250, and at the Rosarito Desert Challenge. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to regain championship status. It wasn’t until the 2017 season that Burnett and his team began to figure out their vehicle and show their championship-winning ways. At the SCORE San Felipe 250, Burnett finished second, followed by a 12th place finish at the SCORE Baja 500. At the Tijuana Desert Challenge, Burnett won the Pro UTV F/I class and finished the year with a 10th place finish at the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000. With extremely more competition at the highest levels, Burnett and his team managed to get back on top winning the Pro UTV Championship. As with all journeys like this one, it was filled with ups and downs, and for Burnett, it wasn’t until two weeks after the 50th, that he found out he was a champion again. SCORE Journal: What was it like to win the Pro UTV FI championship after all the problems you had in 2015 and 2016? Marc Burnett: It felt great winning for all the problems we had throughout the year. We were learning a brand new car and the competition was strong out there. To get a championship the first year back with Can-Am was truly awesome! SJ: At the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, you actually ended the race tied with Brandon Schueler. How did you find out you had won the class and Pro UTV Championship? Burnett: We knew going into the race that we had to finish ninth or better. During the race, it came right down to the wire. We were in seventh place towards the back half of the race and on our last pit, we had a fire. That cost us some time and we knew it was going to be real close. When I got to the finish, I was told by the SCORE officials that the championship would end up going to whoever had the best finish, and Schueler finished the race ahead of us. I was bummed. A week later we found out that we had tied in points and that the rulebook had a tie-breaker rule that says the winner is the racer with the best overall finishes of the season. So that’s when we found out we had won the championship! SJ: Your team was running neck and neck with Brandon Schueler the entire season. How tough of a competitor was he, and how did you and your team manage to try and give yourselves an advantage at each race? Burnett: It was definitely a battle. Schueler has a lot more experience than I do. He’s a true champion, and to go head to head with him was a big deal for me. It’s just awesome that we were able to squeak by with a championship. The competition, in general, is stepping it up. SJ: You started the SCORE racing season with a second place finish at the San Felipe 250, and with a new UTV. What were you expecting for the season at that time? Burnett: That second place finish didn’t make me happy. On the contrary, we were leading the race and we ran out of fuel. That’s what killed it for us in San Felipe; the tank wasn’t all the way full. I also had a broken wrist and was driving that way throughout the race. Overall it was another learning experience for us. We should have finished first, but I thought our chances of winning a championship was fifty-fifty for the rest of the season. SJ: At the SCORE Baja 500, lots of racers had a difficult time with the course. How did you feel about your performance there and did you feel the 12th place finish was the end of your chances for a championship? Burnett: Yes, it was really disappointing. Again, we led the race down to about mile 178. The pit guys didn’t have fuel, and that cost us some time waiting for it. We also had a bad axle and it took a long time to fix. In general, we weren’t “gelling” as a team. SJ: A first place win at the Tijuana Desert Challenge must have been a big shot in the arm for your team. How did it affect your ability to pull off a championship for the season? Burnett: After all the mistakes and learning the car, that race had our team really come together. We worked better as a team and it really showed what we were capable of. We found out the issues with the vehicle and got them all resolved. SJ: Tell us about your Can-Am UTV. Did the vehicle, and working with Can-Am, change your approach to SCORE races this year? Burnett: Any new vehicle takes time to learn about it. For us, it always seems to take a year to work the bugs out and learn the car. To do as well as we did this season was the result of that. 2018 looks brighter and we’re more prepared, looking to come back stronger. SJ: What is the Burnett Motorsports team planning to tackle the SCORE 2018 Season? Burnett: Right now we have two new vehicles to run in 2018 and we know what we need to do to make them win. For us overall, my second year with a new vehicle usually is better than my first. For this season, I would like to win overall every race. I think we can do it. The new Can-Am is an awesome car. It’s going to be a threat. SJ: Throughout your years in UTV competition, what kinds of changes have you seen with the vehicles and competitors overall? Burnett: I can tell you right now, everybody is getting into UTVs more than ever. There are more sponsors, more manufacturer support, and the speeds are unbelievable. Some are now reaching up to 117 miles per hour! I think sometime soon, UTV race vehicles will surpass Class 1 vehicles. All the manufacturers, Can-Am, Polaris, Yamaha, JTM, Textron, and more all stepped up their game. The manufacturers are finding out that racing is a great way to make their products more durable. Honda is planning on a new UTV and some companies are making full electric models too. Even some of the Trophy Truck racers are racing UTVs. It’s just where all the action and support is right now. SJ

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