Phil Blurton ‘Flawless’ in UTV World Championship
Click here for full unofficial results of the Walker Evans Racing Naturally Aspirated Desert Championship Race.
Laughlin, NV (4/9/2018) – Defending Best in the Desert Series champion Phil Blurton scored his first victory of the season, winning the Polaris UTV World Championship. Driving a Can-Am X3, Blurton finished first in the Turbo class, ahead of Ryan Holz, Dustin Jones, Jacob Carver and Bill Zemak. Dodge Poelman won the Production class, while Cody Bradbury finished first in Sportsman, and Australian racer Brett Comiskey won the Unlimited class.
The nine-lap race was held Saturday following the short course event, which was held on the same course. The earlier racing made for a rough surface with plenty of braking and acceleration bumps, long whoops through the Fox Proving Grounds, and plenty of carnage. Temperatures were in the high 90s, and a stiff breeze late in the event cut down on dust.
Blurton started on the front row and was fifth going into the first corner. About three quarters of the way through the first lap, he took the lead and dominated from there. He added a minute on his nearest competitor every lap and cruised the final go around for the win.
“Another flawless UTV World Championship for us,” exclaimed Blurton. “This car really excels here because the whoops are so big here and the chatter bumps are so rough. With all of the wheel travel it has, it just soaks it up. This put us back into a really good position in points right now. As long as we can stay on track, we should be in the hunt for another championship.”
Though he drives a Can-Am, Blurton won one of five Polaris RZRs Polaris Industries awarded for race winners. Polaris also awarded brand-new rides for the winners of the two Youth class races, the short course race, as well as both Production and Turbo in the desert race.
“I really appreciate the RZR and I think it’s awesome,” said Blurton. “The more competition makes us faster as drivers. It keeps us pushing to build faster cars and coming back for more wins.”
Holz finished second after driving the entire event with his father, Mark, as co-driver. It marked the second year in a row that Blurton and Holz finished first in second in the UTV World Championship. Despite having boost issues, Holz used the durability of his Polaris to his advantage and snagged second.
“We lost boost on the second lap, but we worked with what we had and ended up second,” said Holz. “The new car goes exactly where you want it to go and it’s pretty durable. It goes through the holes, so no complaints. The competition is really deep here so if you can get on the podium that’s a really good day.”
Jones, who won the short course race earlier in the day, finished third and made UTV World Championship history in the process. He became the first driver to podium in both events in one day. After running a short-wheelbase Can-Am X3 in the short course event, he switched to the long wheelbase Maverick Max X3 for the desert race.
“This is a monumental day, not just for S3 Powersports, but for the UTV World Championship,” said Jones. “The wheelbase really makes the difference. Dustin Henderson is my co-driver and he is the reason we did so well in this race. He did all of the work. All I did was steer the wheel and push the gas. For the first time in a long time it’ll make the trip back to Louisiana easier.”
In Production, Poelman won his second consecutive race driving a Polaris RZR. Though hesitant during the dead engine, land rush start, he took the lead on the first lap, but his car had a mechanical issue and the entire pack passed him. He recovered, picked his way through the field and scored the victory. It turned into send-off victory for Poelman, who will embark on a two-year mission trip for his church and won’t return to racing until 2020. Mike De Ley finished second, ahead of Jeff Obering.
“We chased Seth Quintero all the way until mile four and passed him, but then we went into limp mode and got passed by the entire pack,” said Poelman. “It was a lot of determination and consistency from there. I had never done a lapped race like this, so I memorized the track. I knew were the turns and the rocks were. Just having the future in mind helped us out. The last lap the track was beat up. There were braking bumps everywhere, broken cars, car parts, and it was mayhem. We’ll be back at it in two years. So, in 2020 they better watch out!”
De Ley was third off the starting line in his Polaris. He passed Seth Quintero on the first lap and held onto third for the entire race.
“Once we got in front of Seth, we just cruised,” said De Ley. “This is awesome and I’m happy just to finish. The car got hot and we had to slow down a few times, but the course was fast and it was fun.”
Obering drove his Yamaha to second after starting on the third row. Obering witnessed most of the carnage. Avoiding the many rocks in the racing lane, he scored his first BITD podium of the season.
“I am so happy to be here and this car held up amazingly,” said Obering. “There was a lot of carnage out there: a lot of cars flipped over and rocks in the middle of the track. It was important to miss those rocks. We’ve always been there, but something always happened at the end so it was nice to get this podium.”
In the Sportsman race, Bradbury prepared his 2016 WORCS Polaris RZR XP Turbo, put a passenger seat into it and went to it. Though he had some bad luck during the race, including two broken axles on the final lap, Bradbury was able to pull it out for his first victory of the season. Garrick Lastra finished second in a Can-Am X3 ahead of the similar car of Cody Currie.
“I had a couple issues early on, and I broke both rear axles on the final lap, but I’m pumped to put it on top,” said Bradbury. “I’ve had a bunch of bad luck this year, so it’s nice to go home and put my head up, happy with the results.”
Clutching limited Lastra’s top speed, but he was challenging at the end and was close to passing Bradbury when tragedy hit. With his co-driver and girlfriend Jackie Kelly, Lastra flipped his Can-Am on the final lap. Though he only lost a few minutes, it was enough to put him second at the finish.
“We had a rollover at the end and that was unfortunate, but got it back going and still finished second,” said Lastra. “This thing got on top of everything and we passed the majority of cars through the Fox Proving Grounds. This car is amazing.”
Currie had a number of issues he had to overcome to secure the final spot on the podium in his Can-Am. Though he was running essentially a bone stock Can-Am X3, he fought his way to a third-place finish.
“We pushed hard all nine laps and this Can-Am rips,” said Currie. “We had a turbo hose fall off on the first lap, got two flat tires, lost our spare and we found it in the middle of the desert. These Can-Ams are fast right out of the box. To come out here and get third place is awesome. The course had a little bit of everything and there was some serious chop.”
In Unlimited, Comiskey scored his first BITD victory. The Australian driver couldn’t get his Can-Am running at the start and had to make up time, driving from last to first to score the win. Michael Isom finished second, ahead of Randy Raschin. Both were driving Can-Am X3s.
“We had a bad start when the car wouldn’t run, so to come from last to first is amazing,” said Comiskey. “This is my passion and I love the sport. To come over here to get the opportunity to race in another country is great. The people make me want to do this. This is like a big family.”
Isom was looking for a repeat win the UTV World Championship. A throttle issue, however, took its toll and put him second at the finish.“We were definitely going for the win, but we had a throttle issue that held us back,” said Isom. “We’ll persevere. The Can-Am is an amazing machine. It is just so fast.”
Raschein was driving one of Cory Sappington’s Can-Ams. The Oregon native turned around bad luck experienced in the Mint 400 to secure the final spot on the podium. “We had some issues at the Mint 400, so this was a nice way to come back,” said Raschein. “As the race went on, the track got rougher, but I love everything about this race; the community, the people, and the competition.”
The Best in the Desert Series returns to action with the Silver State 300. That race is scheduled for May 3-6 in Alamo, NV.