Despite being on the road the entire week preceding round 2 of UTV Rally Raid, we were committed to making the event and putting on a good show. The Polaris RZR XP 1000 was packed up a week prior to the event and stored away in the Attack Van. Huge thanks to Kevin and John for getting the van to Hawk Pride Mountain Off Road Park for the race.
The northern Alabama area received close to 7 inches of rain during the week prior to the race. Under normal circumstances, that would be perfect for race conditions. However, this is Alabama in the Summer. Dust would continue to be a factor for track prep. Fortunately, the crew at Hawk Pride handled it masterfully. During the race, dust was almost a zero concern on the track.
Grid starting positions at UTVRR are determined by your previous race finish. Due to a mechanical at the last race, I would start on row 5 for round 2. This is not a terrible position because the guys in front of me are fast in their own right, helping to keep my lap times low through the early stages of the race. For all of my years racing UTVRR, this was by far the best race I’ve had for slower racers moving out of the way quickly. Everyone coordinated very well on the track.
At round 1, my race plan was to run a moderate pace and be there at the finish. After seeing the results, I did not stick to that plan and ended up with faster lap times than I needed, which could have contributed to the mechanical. For round 2, I was prepared to take that plan even further and slow the lap times down even further. Unfortunately, that is what is required to compete for the win. UTVRR is more of a game of attrition than all out speed and requires almost constant focus for four hours to be on top at the end.
As the race unfolded, the race plan applied perfectly. After lap 1, I was in 4th place. Taking it easy on the first lap is very tough for me, but has proven critical in keeping calm throughout the event. You can’t win on the first lap, but you can easily lose on the first lap. On lap 2, I moved into second, following starting row 1 competitor Russel Griffin who was on a mission. Running the race plan of slow and steady paid off this race. At lap 5 I moved into the lead and held that spot through the remaining 7 laps. After lap 12, we finished with a lead of just over 4 -1/2 minutes, exactly where I wanted to be.
The RZR XP 1000 performed absolutely flawlessly this race. I feel like we have all of the bugs worked out of this car now. Unfortunately for our championship hopes, we can win every race for the rest of the year and still not come away with the overall unless some of the other teams have mechanicals. There are four more races in 2014. We plan to remain consistent for those races and see where the chips fall.
This team wouldn’t be possible without the help of the following team sponsors:
Octane Media, Polaris, GBC Motorsports, KC HiLiTES HiPer Technology, Driven Racing Oil, Morgan Performance Fabrication, PRP Seats, ATVScene.com, Blue Torch Fab, Yoshimura, DirtyDawg Performance, and K4 Switches.
I also need to mention a special thanks for my Dad helping out at this event as well as helping out with the blowout on the way home from the race. He went above and beyond to bring me a full set of rear tires for the Attack Van from Wal-Mart at almost 2AM on Father’s Day. Thanks Pop!