Franklin, Tenn. -- ITP racers had a banner season in both the SCORE International and Best In The Desert racing series, earning three class championships in 2016. ITP racer Justin Lambert also won every Pro UTV (non-turbo) BITD race this year, a first-ever, running 32-inch ITP UltraCross R Spec tireson his race vehicle.
"This season, in the brutal desert, will go down as one of the most successful campaigns ever for ITP. Anytime you come away with three total championships in SCORE and BITD racing, it speaks volumes not only about your product, but also about those dedicated racers who choose to run ITP tires on their race vehicles," said Rhett Turpin, Head of ITP Sales. "We are very pleased to have the ITP UltraCross R Spec tire continue to lead the way in desert racing, where just finishing is considered an accomplishment. It is clear that ITP is the tire choice when it comes to conquering the desert."
Best In The Desert - Two UTV Championships
While ITP racers Justin Lambert and Branden Sims each won their respective Pro UTV classes, it was Lambert (Cognito Motorsports) who made history in the process. Lambert, who equipped his Polaris XP 1000 with durable 8-ply, 32-inch ITP UltraCross R Spec tires, had a career's worth of stats in one season during a dominant BITD championship effort. He won every BITD class race and notched four UTV overalls in the process. He's the first side-by-side racer to complete a Pro UTV class season sweep.
"My team and I just swept the entire Best In The Desert series," said Lambert. "It couldn't have gone better. Those ITP UltraCross tires kept us rolling all season, helping us to earn seven wins and a championship."
Sims closed the year on a high note, winning the Pro UTV Turbo class at Pahrump. That win propelled the longtime desert and ITP racer to the season championship. Sims ran the new 31x9.50R-14 ITPUltraCross R Spec tires on his Polaris 1000, finishing first in class and second overall behind Lambert. Sim's late-season success also included partnering with Jacob Carver for an impressive Baja 1000 win in November. Carver also put in a solid race at the Pahrump Nugget 250, finishing third in the Pro Turbo class and giving ITP a podium sweep.
"ITP tires helped land me a BITD championship, a second place at King of the Hammers and a Baja 1000 win, all in the same year," stated Sims. "The ITP UltraCross R-Spec tires are the one item that actually touches the ground on my race/recreational cars; so I am fully committed to having the best possible tire out there and one that's manufactured in the USA."
The Murray Racing team of Derek and Jason Murray took second place in the Pro UTV Turbo class and third overall, using the same 31-inch UltraCross tire on their Can-Am Maverick X3. The runner-up finish at the finale also gave the Murrays a solid second-place finish on the season in BITD action.
SCORE International - Pro UTV Turbo Champs
One ITP-backed desert side-by-side racing team won the race and another won the war. In SCORE International action, Sims and the Murrays swapped year-end positions in their pursuit of a desert racing championship. Branden Sims and Jacob Carver teamed up to win Pro UTV Forced Induction (Turbo) class Nov. 20, at the 49th annual Baja 1000 in Baja California, Mexico, while the Murray Brothers ultimately won the class and season with their strong sixth-place finish.
The brothers, who added Logan Gastel as a co-driver for the 1000, had raced consistently all year long, but sat third in the points race prior to the prestigious season finale. They needed some luck and another dose of consistency at the Baja 1000 to have a shot at the title. Despite a race that saw 25 side-by-side entries fail to finish, the Murrays were one of just 13 to reach the finish line. That solid finish rewarded them with their first SCORE International championship and yet another impressive title for the ITP UltraCross tires. The squad also ran the new 8-ply, 31x9.5R-14 UltraCross R Spec tires on their Can-Am Maverick MAX Turbo. This was the second straight season the Murrays have earned a SCORE Milestone award for completing every mile and finishing every round.
"We pushed our 31-inch UltraCross tires to the limits this season. With no tire failures, we were able to drive faster and more confidently through the roughest BITD course of the year," said Derek Murray. "When we need the best tires, we choose ITP. It has put us on the box for the year-end championship every year since 2010."
ITP racers will begin their 2017 championship chases Jan. 5-6, at the BITD UTV Winter Nationals/Parker 250 in Parker, AZ.