AUSTIN WEILAND AND CAN-AM WIN THE BAJA 400 OVERALL AND PRO TURBOS
KADEN WELLS AND POLARIS WIN THE 400 PRO NA 1000S
The third annual SCORE Baja 400 presented by VP Racing Fuels featured a gnarly 393.82-mile race course in northern Baja, Mexico, while motorcycles and quads raced 270 miles. The course was technical and tight in many places, and Hurricane Kay ravaged the region the week before the race, wiping out the cross-over road from Valley Trinidad to Hwy 1 and creating huge rain ruts, wash outs, and mud holes throughout the course. There were 202 total entries with Trophy Trucks edging out Pro Forced Induction UTVS, 25-24; there were 38 total UTV entries. The bikes and quads started three hours 15 minutes before the trucks, buggies and UTVs; the UTV race order was Pro Open, Pro Turbo, Pro N/A, and Pro Stocks.
While the torrential rains and flooding smoothed out many sections, especially sand washes, wash-outs, puddles, and rain ruts made pre-running ultra-important as teams had to mark danger points on their GPS. So much pre-running whooped out the washes again and cleared most of the big puddles. By race day, dust and silt were back with a vengeance. Passing the Pepsi Stand on the way to Ojos Negros, Mike Pratt led the Opens in his Hanger 15 Pro R, and Marc Burnett started first in his Monster Maverick. Kaden Wells led Joe Bolton in Pro N/As as the course headed into tight, technical terrain.
At KM77, the course turned onto Hwy 3 briefly, and Mike Cafro had taken the physical UTV lead from Pratt, while Burnett had opened up a lead on the turbo field with Wes Miller second. Austin Weiland, the Baja 500 winner, had moved up to third, and Wells had passed most of the turbo pack. At RM80, Burnett had a boot pop off of his turbo, so he gave up the lead fixing it. He would later break an axle and then a wheel, dropping to sixth. Miller took over the lead and was having fun, but he too would suffer mechanicals. Like Burnett, Weiland was driving solo, and he diced with Miller before taking over the lead at Mike’s Sky Ranch. Austin pushed hard all day but never got out of his X3, even after hitting a tree in a bottleneck. He would win the UTV overall and Forced Induction Pro class by 16.75 minutes.
Miller had more problems, and Rodrigo Ampudia, who had started deep in the pack, got by for second. Both were also driving solo, and Ampudia closed on Weiland at points. Justin Lambert and Matt Burroughs also moved up quickly, trailing Weiland at KM77. Burroughs handed his Monster Maverick over to Brad Howe at RM220, and the team would finish fourth behind Miller with a flat-free race. Fifteen Pro Turbos would finish the grueling race, but champion Phil Blurton, Brandon Schueler, and Austin “AJ” Jones were not among them. Burnett would regroup for fifth.
Kaden Wells handily won the Pro N/A 1000s, winning by an hour and 18 minutes over Bolton, plus his time beating all of the Open Pro Rs. Cafro would hold onto the Open lead and hand over the #1876 to Jamie Kirkpatrick at RM223; the team had a couple of issues but put 27 minutes on solo racer Craig Scanlon, who also liked the technical course. Kristen Matlock was third, saying, “It was going amazing – until it wasn’t. We were leading the UTVs until 62 miles from the finish line and then something went wrong. We got all the parts we needed sent out to us. Unfortunately, we had to rob parts off of the pre-runner, so it is still out there.”
Miller said that he thought he would take over the pro Turbo points lead, and Wells scored his 18th straight podium. Most expressed fondness for the 400 course and were looking forward to the Baja 1000 finale.
RESULTS: 3RD SCORE BAJA 400
Pro Open UTVs
- Make Cafro/Pol…10:30:47.552
- Craig Scanlon/Pol…10:57:47.758
- Kristen Matlock/Pol…11:50:47.282
- Mike Pratt/Pol…12:30:43.732
Pro Forced Induction UTVs
- Austin Weiland/C-A…09:30:18.495
- Rodrigo Ampudia/C-A…09:46:34.618
- Wes Miller/Pol…10:01:04.287
- Matt Burroughs/C-A…10:24:18.838
- Marc Burnett/C-A…10:32:27.291
- Santiago Creel/C-A…10:53:08.956
- Edgar Garcia Leon/C-A…10:53:33.699
- Jesus Mendez/C-A…10:54:39.621
- Justin Lambert/Pol…11:09:15.934
- Steve Allen/C-A…12:06:59.567
Pro Naturally Aspirated UTVs
- Kaden Wells/Pol…10:04:39.542
- Joe Bolton/Pol…11:22:31.607
Pro Stock UTVs
- Randy Emberton/Pol…13:40:18.042
- Douglas Cornwell/Pol…17:54:42.54Randy Emberton won the Pro Stocks.