When Polaris Factory Racing dropped its driver lineup for the 2023 race season last month, the focus was on one of the most talented trios of drivers in the desert with Cayden MacCachren, Brock Heger, and Austin Weiland. But when it came down to Saturday’s SCORE World Desert Championship-opening 36th Annual King Shocks San Felipe 250, it was team principal Craig Scanlon who showed his drivers a thing or two about what it takes to win in the desert.
With MacCachren, Heger, and Weiland equipped with the all-new RZR Pro R Factory, the team dominated most of the race in the Pro UTV Open class and even held all three podium spots at one point. Scanlon would come out on top in his RZR Pro R, though, posting a 6:22:56 to beat defending race winner Wayne Matlock by just over eight minutes. Mike Cafro would complete the class podium, while the rest of the factory Polaris racers would maintain top 10 finishing spots when all was said and done.
But when it came to the overall top time, the Pro UTV Forced Induction class proved it’s still got plenty of pace, with Rodrigo Ampudia coming out on top. Ampudia led a Can-Am podium lockout in the class with a race-best 6:16:17, followed by Edgar Garcia Leon’s 6:32:29 and PJ Jones’ 6:35:16. Those times meant that three of the overall top five UTV times went to Forced Induction drivers, while Garcia Leon and Jones matched their finishing spots from last year’s race.
But while multiple racers backed up last year’s results with repeat podiums, only one could score a second straight UTV class win: Pro UTV NA winner Joe Bolton. His 7:30:00 was 10:33 faster than runner-up Gabe Matthews; over the past three years, he’s never finished worse than fourth in class in this race. Last year’s Pro Stock UTV runner-up Anibal Lopez completed the list of winners by finishing one spot better this year, while last year’s third-place finisher Randy Emberton also improved by a spot to finish second.
13 of the 17 Pro UTV Open starters finished the race in their allotted 14 hours, as did 21 of the 30 Pro UTV FI racers, four of six Pro UTV NA starters, and 11 of 13 Pro Stock UTV racers for a total of 49 out of 67 UTVs (the lone Sportsman entry failed to finish).
For full results from the 2023 King Shocks SCORE San Felipe 250, click here.
Following San Felipe, the 2023 SCORE World Desert Championship resumes in two months’ time with the 55th SCORE Baja 500 on May 31-June 4. Weiland will look to defend the overall Pro UTV win from the Open class after taking it in Forced Induction last year, while Zach Sizelove (NA) and Mike Pratt (Open) also took class wins in 2022.
Image via Polaris Factory Racing