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DUST DEVILS The Conditions Were Cloudy, But The Pace Was Super-Fast For UTVs By Larry Saavedra Photos by Get Some Photo Polaris Factory Racing is clearly in command of the 2023 season as Brock Heger in his No. 1896 RZR Pro R Factory captured the top spot in the Pro UTV Open class by nearly nine minutes at the K&N 4th SCORE Baja 400 presented by VP Racing Fuels. Heger took UTV Overall, too, making him a serious contender for the upcoming BFGoodrich 56th SCORE Baja 1000 presented by K&N. Many UTV drivers ran it solo, and commented on the extremely dusty air. Others noted the new sections of the course. In all, teams said it was one of the fastest paces this season. Pro UTV Open Polaris Factory Racing drivers Branden Sims and Justin Lambert took second and third respectively. “For us, it was basically a sprint,” said Sims. “The way this class is getting now it feels like everyone is sprinting. The pace is crazy. It blows me away.” Lambert added, “It was nine and a half hours of brutality.“ It was very tough and my RZR held together really well. No flats. It was a good finish.” Placing fourth in class Kristen Matlock in the No. 1854 Polaris RZR Pro R said, “There was a big battle in our class. I had a lot of back and forth with Heger and Sims. We made a couple of mistakes with tires, but other than that all went well.” Meanwhile, Kaden Wells in the No. 1895 Polaris RZR Pro R got stuck in traffic and lost time finding his way back on track. Cayden MacCachron in the No. 1821 Polaris RZR Pro R suffered mechanical issues that dropped him back, but says he’ll return to the SCORE Baja 1000 to redeem himself. Pro UTV FI After coming off a less-than-desirable finish at the SCORE Baja 500 Mark Burnett rallied to first place in class at the SCORE Baja 400, and never looked back. Racing the No. 2905 Can-Am X3 Burnett said he pushed a little and held back a little to keep the racecar on course for the win. “We knew we were in the lead from the start,” he said. “There was a minor transmission issue because the course was really tough. We’ve been fighting things for the entire season but the race car seems to be coming together.” Erick Kozin in the No. 2940 Can-Am X3 took second in class and said he had to avoid a lot of incidents that made for a long day of racing. “I enjoyed the new sections of the course,” he said. “We had some issues with the racecar, but that’s all very normal in Baja. We didn’t have any flats thanks to BFGoodrich and that helped a lot.” Rickey Arslanian in the No. 2915 was the driver of record and placed third in class in his Polaris RZR Pro R. “Brian Cooper started the race and I finished it,” he said. “It was very dusty and there was limited passing. The second half of the course was rough, but also fun. SCORE did a great job and the race car ran flawlessly.” Pro UTV NA Gabe Matthews in the No. 1980 Polaris RZR Pro R captured first in class, saying it was a fun, but rough course. “I blew a couple of turns, but we didn’t have any issues because my navigator was on point. Being at Baja during Mexico’s Independence weekend was pretty cool too. The fans were everywhere. That just made us want to keep pushing for the lead.” Joe Bolton in the No. 1957 Polaris RZR Pro R took second in class with his son Austin. “My dad said his section was rough, but I thought the second half of the race was a lot of fun,” Austin said. “Uruapan at mile-marker 310 was tough, but you just have to deal with it. We battled two other guys in class all day and that’s when first place got away from us. But it was all good even after breaking an axle.” Pro UTV Stock After finding his way to a first-in-class finish, Edmundo Fernandez, a co-driver for the No. 3959 Polaris RZR Pro R said the dust was relentless. “It was a hard race to run because of the dust in the air, but we managed to overcome the adversities,” he said. Antonio Mendez is the driver of record and started the race and handed it off to Alonso Gonzalez at mile-marker 125. From there it was up to Fernandez to wrap up the win. “We had an electrical issue, but repaired it and quickly passed our competition in class,” he said. Right on his heels was Ricardo Zaragoza in the No. 3924 Can-Am X3, who took second. Somehow Zaragoza managed to tangle with another competitor at mile-marker 220 and he lost time. “We managed to keep it running and got back on course, but the other competitors had already passed by,” he said. “Our GPS unit wasn’t working well either and that caused some issues.” Jorge Cano in the No. 3936 Can-Am X3 recalled the three-car battle he had all the way to the end of the race. “It was rough,” he said. “The last miles were challenging and we suffered two flats after hitting rocks. But overall the Can-Am performed very well.” OFFICIAL FINISHERS PRO UTV OPEN  (two-seat open UTV open-displacement) (16 Starters, 14 Finishers) 1. 1896 Brock Heger, 23, El Centro, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:01:57 (42.59 mph) 2. 1886 Branden Sims, 37, Prescott Valley, AZ, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:08:29 3. 1869 Justin Lambert, 44, Bakersfield, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R4, 9:16:06 4. 1854 Kristen Matlock, 42, Alpine, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:17:40 5. 1895 Kaden Wells, 24, Hurricane, Utah, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:24:59 6. 1831 Craig Scanlon, 49, Orange, CA (Helena, Mont.)/Max Eddy Jr, 40, Barstow, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:41:06 7. 1821 Cayden MacCachren, 21, Las Vegas, Polaris RZR Pro R, 9:41:35 8. 1829 Sierra Romo, 22, Henderson, NV, Polaris RZR Pro R, 10:33:13 9. 1823 Ricardo Malo Jr, 17, Mexicali, MX, Polaris RZR Pro R, 11:29:02 10. 1871 Wayne Matlock, 45, Alpine, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 11:47:04 11. 1876 Mike Cafro, 53, Temecula, CA/Jamie Kirkpatrick, 42, Olympia, Wash., Polaris RZR Pro R, 12:12:00 12. 1870 Brandon Walsh, 37, Encinitas, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 12:25:20 13. 1888 Roger Norman, 60, Reno, NV, Polaris RZR Pro R, 12:42:22 14. 1827 Austin Weiland, 31, El Cajon, CA/Dylan Schmoke, 30, Santee, CA, Polaris RZR Pro R, 14:51:25   PRO UTV FI  (two-seat Forced Induction, OEM engine UTVs) (16 Starters, 10 Finishers) 1. 2905 Marc Burnett, 52, Chula Vista, CA, Can-Am X3, 10:00:28 (38.44 mph) 2. 2940 Erick Kozin, 44, Yorba Linda, CA/Drew Stanton, 24, Can-Am X3, 10:34:08 3. 2915 Rickey Arslanian, 41, Livermore, CA/Brian Cooper, 37, Santa Rosa, CA, Polaris RZR XP1000, 10:39:09 4. 2917 Jason Murray, 40, North Tustin, CA/Derek Murray, 39, Yorba Linda, CA, Can-Am X3, 10:40:59 5. 2987 Edgar Garcia, 36, Trabuco Canyon, CA, Can-Am Maverick X3, 11:35:04 6. 2981 Fernando Kabande, 64, Ensenada, MX/Esteban Estrada/Francisco Verdugo, Can-Am X3, 12:03:59 7. 2928 Carlos A. Quezada, 44, Mexicali, MX/Carlos Quezada Jr,  22, Mexicali, MX, Can-Am X3, 12:41:38 8. 2976 Jesus Mendez Jr, 26, Mexicali, MX, Can-Am Maverick XRS, 12:42:42 9. 2920 Oscar Ruiz, 28, El Centro, CA, (DOR-Roberto Ruiz, El Centro), Can-Am X3, 12:49:58 10. 2996 Jessica Lopez, 20, Tecate, MX/Alexis Lopez, 24, Tecate, MX, Can-Am X3, 14:48:39 PRO UTV NA  (two-seat Normally Aspirated, OEM engine UTVs) (6 Starters, 4 Finishers) 1. 1980 Gabe Matthews, 40, Lakeside, CA, Polaris RZR XP1000, 10:19:32, (37.25 mph) 2. 1957 Joe Bolton, 66, Corona, CA/Austin Bolton, 28, Corona, CA, Polaris RZR XP1000, 11:04:36 3. 1984 David Pedder, 54, Rancho Santa Fe, CA/Ricardo Torres, 27, Lake Elsinore, CA, Honda Talon, 12:58:08 4. 1914 Larry Janesky, 59, Middlebury, Conn./Cisco Bio, 38, Spring Valley, CA, Honda Talon, 14:11:31 PRO UTV STOCK (Stock UTVs, FI or NA) (10 Starters, 6 Finishers) 1. 3959 Antonio Mendez, 58, Puebla, MX/Alonso Gonzalez, 37, Ensenada, MX/Edmumdo Fernandez, 56, Ensenada, MX, Polaris RZR XP4, 11:33:11 (33.30 mph) 2. 3924 Ricardo Zaragoza, 44, Culiacan, MX, Can-Am X3, 11:35:15 3. 3936 Jorge Cano, 48, Culiacan, MX, Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo XRC, 11:36:05 4. 3928 Endy Chavez, 27, Mexicali, MX/Yoshua Mardecho, 28, Mexicali, MX, Can-Am X3, 12:53:00 5. 3933 Randy Emberton, 64, Prescott, AZ, Polaris RZR Turbo S, 13:55:00 6. 3900 Anibal Lopez, 40, Mexicali, MX/Daniel Gonzalez, 40, San Luis, MX, Polaris RZR Turbo R, 14:45:10

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