Las Vegas’ Wes Miller took the Pro UTV Forced Induction victory in this weekend’s Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge, the third of four rounds in the 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship. Miller and Donny Powers completed four laps on the 33.7-mile course in their Polaris RZR XP Turbo in 3:47.40, beating Rhys Millen by one minute and 12 seconds. Wayne Matlock completed an all-Polaris sweep of the Pro UTV FI class podium.
“We knew we had about a minute gap with Rhys Millen so it was on,” Miller said after the victory. “The track was rough with the trucks chewing up the dirt yesterday. We had to take care of the car. Now I think this will be my 25th SCORE Baja 1000 this year and I am ready to go for it now.”
Compared to other SCORE events, this weekend’s Desert Challenge featured perhaps the most unique event format of the season. The field was separated into three distinct groups, each of which would run two laps on Saturday and two on Sunday, for a total of just over 130 miles—the shortest race distance of the season. The combined fastest time from both days of action would determine the winner.
26 UTVs started the event in all, including an event-high 19 in the Pro UTV FI class. Miller and Millen would post the top two UTV times overall, but 19-year-old rookie Kaden Wells’ 3:49:23, good enough to win the normally aspirated Pro UTV class, was the third-best UTV time. Wells, who hails from St. George, Utah, topped Adrian Orellana’s second-place Pro UTV time by nearly 20 minutes.
“We had a good race today but there were lots of rocks and holes,” Wells said. “Yesterday we crossed the line with a 50 second difference but with adjusted time didn’t win. Today we are winners. Now we have to complete some repairs to get ready for the SCORE Baja 1000.”
The 51st SCORE Baja 1000 takes place November 14-18 in Ensenada, Mexico. The legendary off-road race completes the 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship, and will lead to a five-month break for the series before action resumes with the 33rd SCORE San Felipe 250 in April 2019.
UTV finishers of the Lucerna Hotels & Resorts Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge are as follows:
PRO UTV FI (two-seat Forced Induction, OEM engine UTVs) (19 Starters, 9 Finishers)
- 2989 Wes Miller, 48, Las Vegas/Donny Powers, 30, Morgan Hill, Calif., Polaris RZR XP Turbo, 3:47:40 (35.53 mph)
- 2966 Rhys Millen, 46, San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (New Zealand), Polaris RZR XPT1000 Turbo, 3:48:52
- 2971 Wayne Matlock, 40, Alpine, Calif., Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo, 3:51:45
- 2919 Brandon Schueler, 29, Phoenix/Pat Stone, 50, Phoenix/Miles Martin, 29, Phoenix, Polaris RZR XP4 Turbo, 3:51:52
- 2912 Tony Riggs, 50, Newhall, Calif./Kurt Meachum, 46, Cave Creek, Ariz./Kyle Melville, 28, Valencia, Calif., Polaris RZR Turbo, 3:57:33
- 2910 Scott Trafton, 37, Alpine, Calif./Dave Price, 62, Alpine, Calif., Polaris RZR Turbo, 4:11:36
- 2978 Luis Fortanel, 29, Mexicali, Mexico/Jose Ramirez, 28, Mexicali, Mexico, Can-Am Maverick X3, 4:19:53
- 2946 Jose Juarez, 34, Chula Vista, Calif./Alejandro Zuniga, 35, Chula Vista, Calif., Polaris RZR XP1000 Turbo, 4:36:55
- 2968 Paul Kraus, 47, Los Angeles/(DOR-Christine Giampaoli Zonca, 24, Las Vegas/Italy/Spain), Can-Am X3, 4:41:02
PRO UTV (two-seat Normally Aspirated, OEM engine UTVs) (6 Starters, 3 Finishers)
- 1995 Kaden Wells, 19, St. George, Utah/Travis Wells, 46, St. George, Utah/Jesus Gutierrez, 33, Ensenada, Mexico/Rory L’Hommedieu, 36, Mesquite, Nev., Polaris RZR 1000, 3:49:23 (35.26 mph)
- 1985 Adrian Orellana, 33, Jamul, Calif./Daniel Gonzales, 25, Polaris RZR XP1000, 4:08:07
- 1955 Paul Champion, 46, Phoenix/Travis Casteel, Phoenix, Polaris RZR XP1000, 4:19:06
PRO UTV UNLTD (two-seat unlimited UTV open-displacement) (1 Starter, 1 Finisher)
- 1872 Jesus Mendez Jr, 21, Mexicali, Mexico/Rodrigo Ferla, 29, Mexicali, Mexico/Ignacio Arteaga, 48, Mexicali, Mexicali/Jesus Mendez Sr, 51, Mexicali, Mexico, Can-Am Maverick XRS, 4:22:32 (30.81 mph)
Words by: Chris Leone // UTVUnderground.com
Photos by: Ernesto Araiza // UTVUnderground.com