The dust has barely settled on the 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship, but one thing is for certain: this year brought out the absolute best in some of the world’s top off-road racers.
When all was said and done and the 51st SCORE Baja 1000 wrapped up in Ensenada this weekend, it was Pro UTV Forced Induction driver Wayne Matlock who made SCORE history by becoming the series’ first overall champion from the UTV ranks. Matlock opened the season with a win in the 32nd Annual San Felipe 250, added runner-up finishes in the 50th Anniversary Baja 500 and Tijuana 22nd SCORE Desert Challenge, and added another Baja 1000 victory to his resume to lock up the overall crown.
Coming in just behind him was Rob MacCachren, who locked up the Trophy Truck championship with a third place finish in the season finale. Newly inducted Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame member Cameron Steele took the first two SCORE Trophy Truck wins of his career in Tijuana and the Baja 1000 to keep it close, but it was MacCachren who dethroned three-time defending champion Carlos Apdaly Lopez with podiums in all four races this season.
Elsewhere in Pro UTV, 20-year-old rookie Kaden Wells took the Normally Aspirated championship with four podiums, including a win in Tijuana. Kristen Matlock led the NA standings with back-to-back wins in the first two races, including the overall UTV victory in the Baja 500, but suffered DNFs in the final two rounds of the season. Other Pro UTV winners in 2018 included Branden Sims (who took the Pro UTV FI win in the Baja 500), Rhys Millen (the Pro UTV FI victor in Tijuana), and Tyler Backus (the Baja 1000 class winner in Pro UTV NA).
After Trophy Trucks took the overall victories in the first three events and the past four Baja 1000s, Justin Morgan completed a perfect season in Pro Moto Unlimited by scoring the overall victory in this year’s finale. Morgan, who placed sixth in last year’s point standings, teamed up with 2016 Pro Moto Unlimited champion Mark Samuels and Justin Jones to return the overall top spot to motorcycles at Baja for the first time since Tim Weigand (on a team that also included Samuels) scored the win in 2013.
The SCORE World Desert Championship will reach an even larger audience in 2019, with the announcement that the full season will be televised on ABC as part of World of X Games broadcasts. Next year’s season kicks off April 3-7 in San Felipe, and will also feature the 51st Annual Baja 500 on May 29-June 2, inaugural Lucerna SCORE Baja 400 on September 18-22, and 52nd Annual Baja 1000 on November 19-24.