Saturday, April 20, 2024

Brandon Walsh switching to UTV for Baja 500

Brandon Walsh has long raced a Toyota Tacoma in SCORE International competition, but that will change for the Baja 500 on 3 June as he will instead pilot the #1870 Polaris RZR Pro R in the Pro UTV Open class.

Walsh’s Tacoma competed in Class 7 and Class 7F (both for production mini or mid-size pickups), scoring podium finishes in the SCORE class championships eight times throughout the 2010s while taking home the Class 7 title in 2011 and Class 7F in 2018. His most recent victory came in 7F at the 2022 season-opening San Felipe 250, though the rest of the year was plagued by engine failures and he finished runner-up in the championship battle to Gerardo Novelo by five points.

He was unable to defend his San Felipe win in early April after yet another engine expired in the closing stretch.

“San Felipe was my last race in a truck for a while,” began a social media post from Walsh on Tuesday. “It’s been a wild ride for the last 17 years racing nothing other than Toyota Tacomas but it’s time for a little change.

“This truck was flying when it had a healthy motor at San Felipe 250! Unfortunately a catastrophic motor issue put us out 70 miles from the finish.

“Starting at the Baja 500 which will be my 18th Baja 500 race, the team and I will be racing in the Pro UTV Open class as number #1870! We have a new Pro R being built right now and can’t wait to get this party started!”

Pro UTV Open is heavily concentrated with Polaris RZRs, with all but one of the seventeen entrants at San Felipe being in one. Three of the cars are part of the new Polaris RZR Factory Racing programme, which races a racing-spec version of the Pro R called the Pro R Factory. Team principal Craig Scanlon won the class and was the second-best UTV overall behind Rodrigo Ampudia from rival Can-Am.

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