New winners for the season opener By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by Harlan Foley
The Best in the Desert season opener held record-breaking racer attendance with 330 total entries. Over 100 entries were registered for the various Pro UTV categories and 54 among the UTV Turbo class. The UTV Unlimited class nearly doubled in size from the previous year. The UTV Pro Open class ran for the first time in the Tensor Tire Parker 250 and was claimed by Mitchell Alsup. This class was designed to allow a more diverse range of UTVs and help with a clearer class structure for Best in the Desert’s UTV division.
Cory Sappington drew the first start position, followed by Phil Blurton and Austin Weiland. Eighteen-year-old Seth Quintero moved up from the UTV Production class this year after his great performance at Dakar. Mitch Guthrie had a brand-new Polaris build to take his title back from last year’s champion Phil Blurton. Guthrie succeeded in taking the Pro Turbo class and the overall UTV win. Brake failure ensured that Blurton was barely beaten out of a podium spot by Dustin Jones and Bruce Binnquist. The close times between racers in the top five showed just how hungry these racers were for the glory.
The UTV Unlimited podium was headed by Michael Isom, followed by veteran driver Randy Rashien and rounded out by Chris Blais in his hand-controlled Can-Am. The first Kawasaki KRX 1000 UTV to win a desert race was piloted by Carson Wernimont and Reid Nordin in the UTV NA class. They took 11th place overall. Seth Quintero only completed two laps during his debut in the new class, but he was still counted 27th in class and 67th overall.
The UTV Rally class only raced three (rather than four) laps of the tough desert course, and Justin Smith came out victorious. Justin McVay took the title for the RS1/NA class, and Mikey Kelly took the win for the youth portion of the race’s Pure Stock class.
COVID-19 compliance made this race possible for the many spectators that were in attendance in beautiful Parker, Arizona.
1. Mitch Guthrie Jr./Kurtis Elliott (POL)
2. Bruce Binnquist/Tanner Timblin (Can-Am)
3. Dustin Jones/ Dustin Henderson (Can-Am)
4. Phil Blurton/Beau Judge (Can-Am)
5. Vito Ranuio/Mike Whitaker (Can-Am).
1. Michael Isom/James Konces/Carey McCandless (Can-Am)
2. Randy Raschein/Garrick Lastra/Jared Gomez (Can-Am)
3. Chris Blais/Jeremy Gray (Can-Am)
4. Cameron Ornelas/Kyle Hidalgo/PJ Jones/Henry Duran (Can-Am)
5. Michael McFayden/Chris McFayden (Can-Am).
UTV Pro NA
1. Carson Wernimont/Reid Nordin (KAW)
2. Josh Row/Preston Axford (POL)
3. Austin Bolton/Matthew Banuelos (POL)
4. Corbin Wells/Brian Willison (POL)
5. Dominick Gaglione/Dominick Gaglione Jr./Ryan Blust/Darrel Gallow (POL).
UTV Pro Open
1. Mitchell Alsup/Nick Blais (Can-Am)
2. Caitilee Walker/Johnny Walker (POL)
3. Dan Fisher/Kyle Anderson (Can-Am).
1. Jesus Ramirez/Jose Roberto Villalobos (N/A)
2. Sean Loodus/David Scott (HON)
3. Howard Tande/Don Higbee (POL)
1. Humberto Valenzuela/Omar Alvarado/Alvaro Alvarado (N/A)