Off Road

McNeil, Menzies lead 2023 SCORE World Desert Champions

3 Mins read
Credit: Art Eugenio/Red Bull Content Pool

Like in 2022, Luke McMillin and Bryce Menzies battled for the SCORE International World Desert Championship throughout the four-race 2023 campaign. This time, Menzies came out on top.

McMillin, the reigning champion, drew first blood by beating Menzies for the San Felipe 250 before Menzies rattled off three consecutive wins at the Baja 500, Baja 400, and Baja 1000. The two entered the 1000 with just nine points separating them, and Menzies—with help from McMillin’s cousin Andy and Tavo Vildósola—beat him again by just forty-six seconds for his maiden victory at the legendary race.

“Whenever Luke’s racing, you always know he’s going to be up there so we could battle it out all year long from San Felipe to the 500 to the 400 to the 1000. If it’s not him, it’s me,” said Menzies. “It’s pretty cool to have that rivalry going on and we’re also really good friends.”

Although Menzies enjoyed his first SCORE world title, he did not win the outright championship for all Four-Wheelers. Instead, Trophy Truck Spec driver Jason McNeil claimed that crown as he recorded 551 total points, more than anyone else among such categories, to Menzies’ 538. Despite struggling through rain and electrical issues at the 1000 which relegated him to an eighteenth in class, McNeil never finished worse than second across the first three rounds.

A year after winning the Championship Off-Road Pro Stock SxS title, short course star Brock Heger adds his first SCORE championship in Pro UTV Open; he won twice at the Baja 500 and 400 in the début season for Polaris Factory Racing. On the other hand, Jason Murray of rival Can-Am was the top UTV as a whole en route to the Pro UTV FI title.

The closest points battle came in Pro Stock UTV, where Jorge Cano narrowly escaped with a three-point edge over Antonio Mendez. While Mendez won the Baja 400 and Cano went winless, Cano defeated Mendez by one position at the 1000 with a second to his third. The same margin occurred twice among Bikes with Fabricio Fuentes beating Kurt Steever in Pro Moto Ironman and in the premier Pro Moto Unlimited with Juan Carlos Salvatierra over Ciaran Naran.

Salvatierra’s title defence began on a sour note with an electrical failure in San Felipe while Naran, in his first season as the lead rider, claimed the win. Naran built a bigger cushion with a better finish at the 500 before the tide turned with a penalty at the 400 which took away Naran’s victory and gave it to Salvatierra. The latter then completed the pass at the top of the standings by winning the 1000.

The Pro Moto 30 of Jano Montoya recorded the most points among Bikes with 464, winning all four rounds in his category. He was one of four class champions to sweep the season alongside Kevin Ward (Pro Moto 60), Oliver Flemate (Class 11), and Nicolas Velez (Pro Quad).

Drivers must run all four races to qualify for the championship. As a result, eleven classes like Pro UTV Unlimited and Heavy Unlimited did not hand out awards for 2023 as they either only appeared at certain rounds like the Baja 1000 or did not have entries for the full calendar.

2023 was the fiftieth season for SCORE International.

2023 SCORE International World Desert Champions

Four-Wheelers

ClassNumberDriver of RecordPointsRunner-UpPointsMargin
Baja ChallengeBC4Edward Muncey379Kyle Tucker*145– 234
Class 1168Cody Reid449Al Torres423– 26
Class 1/2-16001625Eric Pavolka455Pablo Jauregui368– 87
Class 5511Eli Yee365Mike Sullivan*198– 167
Class 7700Dan Chamlee384Gaspar Espindola373– 11
Class 7F714FJustin Park389Aaron Celiceo244– 145
Class 7SX740Armando Durón324Rodrigo Martinez*150– 174
Class 8852Spencer Morgan170Boy Jassen*50– 120
Class 101091Francisco Vera481Jose Ruvalcaba454– 27
Class 111105Oliver Flemate466Eric Brandt370– 96
Pro Stock UTV3936Jorge Cano447Antonio Mendez444– 3
Pro UTV Forced Induction2917Jason Murray485Rickey Arslanian466– 19
Pro UTV Normally Aspirated1957Joe Bolton442Lawrence Janesky432– 10
Pro UTV Open1896Brock Heger478Justin Lambert458– 20
SCORE Lites1211Oscar Alvarez446Oliver Flemate*159– 287
Trophy Truck7Bryce Menzies538Luke McMillin523– 15
Trophy Truck Legends1LGus Vildósola470Clay Lawrence380– 90
Trophy Truck Spec234Jason McNeil551EJ Herbst513– 38
* – Did not run every race

Bikes

ClassNumberRider of RecordPointsRunner-UpPointsMargin
Pro Moto 30300XJano Montoya464David Smith432– 32
Pro Moto 40441XAlirio Amado450Ryan Liebelt*139– 311
Pro Moto 50501XRobert Creemers454Giovanni Spinali*145– 309
Pro Moto 60644XKevin Ward460Scott McIntosh*248– 212
Pro Moto Ironman785XFabricio Fuentes442Kurt Steever439– 3
Pro Moto Limited100XFernando Beltran460Ely Ramirez450– 10
Pro Moto Unlimited1XJuan Carlos Salvatierra442Ciaran Naran439– 3
Pro Quad1ANicolas Velez460Jose Castro428– 32
Pro Quad Ironman83AFaelly Lopez365Jose Enriquez*145– 220
Sportsman Moto249XArmando Ortiz471Luis Angel Rivera Sarabia*339– 132
Sportsman Quad139ASergio Jimenez472Francisco Valle451– 21
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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