Can-Am ATV and side-by-side racers competed in the 46th Annual Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 desert endurance race over the past weekend in Mexico, and came away with one class victory and an impressive third-place finish in the UTV class. Team UXC Racing / Can-Am racer Michael Swift rode the entire 833-mile course alone to win Class 26 aboard his Outlander 4×4 ATV. Cory Sappington also finished the race, earning third overall in Class 19 (UTV) with his Desert Toyz / Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side vehicle.
“I’m very pleased with Michael Swift’s Class 26 win, considering the fact that he raced the entire Baja 1000 solo and it was said to be one of the most grueling courses in the history of the race,” says Jeff Leclerc, Racing Project Leader, Can-Am. “Despite a few challenges in the UTV race, I was thrilled to learn Desert Toyz driver / owner Cory Sappington earned the first Baja 1000 podium for the Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side.”
Three Can-Am Outlander ATV and Grand National Cross Country racers made up the competitors for class 26. They consisted of Team UXC Racing / Can-Am team members Michael Swift and Don Higbee, who each raced alone on separate ATVs, as well as Penland Racing / Can-Am pilot Mike Penland and his squad. Swift, who won the 2013 GNCC U2 class championship on a Can-Am Renegade 4×4, held the lead for much of the race and finished with a total official time of 33:12:39.176, averaging 26.6 mph. Higbee, who reached the finish almost seven hours behind Swift, earned the second-place award and both a finisher’s medal and iron man recognition from SCORE.
“I had a flawless race on my Can-Am Outlander 1000 XT,” says Swift. “It was a long race and a huge challenge to the Outlander and myself. Crossing the finish line was a great accomplishment for our team and the companies we represent.”
Nineteen side-by-side vehicles entered Class 19 (Limited, Stock Four-Wheel Utility Vehicle) at the 2013 Baja 1000. Only five vehicles finished the 833-mile event, with the top finishing Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side being the No. 1904 Desert Toyz / Can-Am of Cory Sappington. The side-by-side racing pioneer, along with co-driver Eric Fitch and the rest of the team, earned the first Baja finish and podium for the Can-Am Maverick 1000R side-by-side. Sappington’s team finished the race in a little more than 28 hours, averaging 30.4 mph, on its way to earning third place.
“We had four flat tires and, other than putting gas in the car, no other problems. It was the roughest Baja I’ve ever been in,” says Sappington, who also took second at the Baja 500 earlier in the year. “The Can-Am Maverick just powered through all the silt beds. My appreciation to Can-Am for building such a great machine that’s so fun to race. Our Can-Am Maverick is a stock machine, other than the exhaust and the air cleaner, so you can buy it right out of the box, race it in the Baja 1000 and finish on the podium.”
Derek and Jason Murray in their brand new No. 1917 Murray Racing / Can-Am Maverick MAX also competed in the race. They started last in the 19 class, but moved to within five minutes of the leaders at mile marker 350. However, a mechanical failure ultimately ended their race. Also racing for Can-Am was the No. 1905 Monster Energy / Can-Am of Marc Burnett. He was competing in the top three early on, after starting near the back of the pack, and reached checkpoint four before having to drop out due to a mechanical.