The 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship kicks off on Saturday with a return to San Felipe for the 36th Annual King Shocks SCORE San Felipe 250. Dozens of the top UTV teams in the world, including a number of high-powered new efforts, will set out from El Malecon and have a maximum of 14 hours to take on the 263.5-mile course in the shortest race of the SCORE campaign.
Last year’s San Felipe 250 was the first matchup between the tried-and-true Pro UTV Forced Induction class and the upgraded Pro UTV Open division, where a fleet of all-new Polaris RZRs would look to establish a new top class. Open class winner Wayne Matlock and FI class winner Justin Lambert posted similar finishing times, but Matlock’s 6:08:50 was just over four minutes faster for overall supremacy across the two divisions. Joe Bolton completed the list of class winners in Pro UTV Normally Aspirated.
18 Pro UTV Open entries headline the entry list, including Matlock and Lambert. Other big names on the entry list include Branden Sims, Kristen Matlock, Kaden Wells, Mike Cafro, and even Roger Norman—but the team looking to make the biggest splash is Polaris Factory Racing. Formed in the offseason by Craig Scanlon and Travis Clarke and equipped with the all-new Polaris RZR Pro R Factory, the team signed Austin Weiland away from Can-Am and Brock Heger away from Yamaha to partner with Cayden MacCachren.
Still, the Forced Induction class brings the most entries to the opener with 26. From 2020 SCORE World Desert Champion Matt Burroughs and Marc Burnett to last year’s second and third place class finishers Edgar Garcia Leon and PJ Jones, there’s no shortage of talent lined up, even with all of the big names that have moved into the Open class. Five Normally Aspirated entries, 13 Pro Stock entries (both normally aspirated and forced induction), and an additional Sportsman Stock entry complete the 63 UTVs in the field.
Following the San Felipe 250, SCORE gears up for the 55th Annual BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 on May 31-June 4. Last year, Weiland took the overall UTV win in the Forced Induction class, while Honda’s Zach Sizelove earned the Pro UTV NA win and Mike Pratt survived a tough race for the Open class to take that win.