Image via Polaris Factory Racing
Polaris Factory Racing is two for two through the first half of the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship in the Pro UTV Open division, as Brock Heger earned his first win with the team in Saturday’s 55th SCORE Baja 500. Heger’s winning time of 10:45:28 over 473.67 miles in the Polaris RZR Pro R was also good for the team’s first overall SCORE victory, as the RZR-dominated Open division and Can-Am-heavy Forced Induction class have battled for overall supremacy throughout the past two seasons.
But after the Forced Induction class—then a little more balanced between the two manufacturers—dominated last year’s overall running order, it was all Open-class Pro Rs atop the overall standings this time around. Heger, Branden Sims, Kristen Matlock, Justin Lambert, and Wayne Matlock were the top five overall finishers, separated by less than half an hour. Forced Induction class winner Phil Blurton was sixth overall with a time of 11:18:55; he had nearly an hour’s advantage over runner-up Jason Murray and 75 minutes on third place Matt Burroughs when the dust settled.
The closeness of competition proved to be a stark departure from last year, when Austin Weiland (ironically, now a Polaris Factory Racing driver) had the top Open competitors beat by well over three hours, and eight FI entries managed to meat Open class winner Mike Pratt. Besides having much more closely matched race winners, both classes had at least seven entries come in within two hours of the winning time. 15 of the 20 Open teams made it to the finish, while 12 of 22 Forced Induction entries did—although neither Craig Scanlon nor Rodrigo Ampudia, winners of the San Felipe 250 in the respective classes, were among them.
One thing that didn’t change from last year, though, was Zach Sizelove’s Honda Talon on top of the box in Pro UTV Normally Aspirated with a winning time of 12:59:51. Sizelove’s 23-minute win over Joe Bolton last year gave way to a 17-minute advantage over Larry Janesky this time around. Even more consistent as of late has been Sara Price, whose recent run of success has included wins in the Sonora Rally and NORRA Mexican 1000; she can add a Baja 500 win in the Pro UTV Stock class to that, defeating Endy Chavez for the victory by 15 minutes.
When the dust settled in Ensenada, no Pro UTV racer managed to start off the 2023 season with back-to-back victories. Only San Felipe winner Bolton could even manage a second consecutive podium finish, coming third in the NA class at just an hour behind Sizelove.
The 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship resumes on September 12-17 with the 4th SCORE Baja 400, also in Ensenada, before the season concludes on November 13-18 with the BFGoodrich Tires 5th SCORE Baja 1000 that will run from La Paz to Ensenada.