After more than 400 miles of challenging desert action, Can-Am’s Vito Ranuio came out on top of Friday’s Method Race Wheels Casey Folks Vegas to Reno, one of the longest point-to-point races in the United States and the centerpiece of the 2022 Best in the Desert schedule. Ranuio crossed the finish line with a winning time of 8:10:10 in his #T850 Can-Am, scoring an overall UTV win for the Turbo Pro class against a field of stout Trophy Unlimited racers.
With how many former Turbo standouts have made the switch to Unlimited, the battle between the two divisions was set to be intense from the minute teams unloaded in Primm for Thursday’s Head to Head Time Trials. The Unlimited machines would draw first blood, with Cody Bradbury and Mitch Guthrie Jr. posting the fastest two qualifying times at 3:11.102 and 3:13.475, respectively. Phil Blurton, winner of four straight Vegas to Renos from 2017 to 2020, was the top Turbo qualifier at 3:15.084, leading five straight Can-Ams atop that class in time trials.
As if the annual trek north wasn’t challenging enough at face value, wild weather forced multiple modifications to the course leading up to Friday morning. In the end, the traditional start in Beatty was foregone for a green flag in Bonnie Claire, and the segment between Tonopah and Millers was bypassed with a transit section, allowing racers to avoid multiple impassable areas on the initially planned course.
On race day, the Turbo and Unlimited divisions would go head to head yet again, with Bradbury spending the early stages of the race up front before suffering voltage issues and falling to eighth in class at race’s end. That would open top honors up for Guthrie, whose factory-backed #2912 Polaris RZR would get to the finish in 8:14:17, more than 15 minutes quicker than Dan Fisher’s Can-Am and an additional 11 minutes ahead of Trevor Leighton.
But it was Ranuio and his brand new Lonestar Racing-built Maverick X3 that would post the fastest UTV time of all, more than four minutes ahead of Guthrie for the overall and almost six ahead of Blurton in the Turbo Pro class. Branden Sims would finish third in class as the fastest RZR in the Turbo class, eight minutes clear of Mint 400 winner Dustin Jones for the final podium spot.
While Can-Ams and RZRs split the fastest times in the other two Pro classes, UTV NA Pro was all about the RZR, with Max Eddy, Ethan Groom, and Kaden Wells coming home on the podium. Conner Maxwell earned the Super Stock win for Can-Am, while John Lynch topped the Sportsman Rally class in his RZR. All told, 107 UTVs started the race across the five classes, with 71 of them finishing; Turbo Pro was responsible for the largest segments in both, with 28 finishers among its 40 starters.
Best in the Desert has two remaining UTV events on the schedule for 2022: September 22-25’s Battle Born 250 in Ely, and November 4-6’s World Hare and Hound Championship in Tonopah. TV coverage of Method Race Wheels Casey Folks Vegas to Reno will air on August 28 and September 4 on the CBS Sports Network.
Check of Ernesto Araiza’s gallery from the event right here!