Race Report – UTV Rally Raid Round One

For 2014, the UTV Rally Raid series will be held in North Alabama at a private park named Hawk Pride Mountain Off Road. Due to the park creating an all new race track for this series, a handful of races early in the schedule were canceled to make time for track perfection. That gave the Rally Raid racers a couple of extra months to get their race vehicles, pit strategies and team organizations finalized.

It’s reasonable for you to think that the extra time would be enough time for Octane to have their vehicle ready as well. Oh contraire… For whatever reason, I decided to go much further with the build of our 2014 Polaris RZR XP1000 than was initially planned. I have a problem with going overboard. It’s not a trait I’m proud of, but one with which I am used to dealing.

utvrr-1-2014-3For the past few years, I have done all of my own fabrication on the cars. This allows me to get things done exactly as I want them as well as try some things that I normally wouldn’t ask anyone else to attempt. This new car was no exception, and so was the extended build timeline.

As round 1 approached, I could tell that it was going to come down to the wire. I just had no idea how close to the wire it would actually come. For the two weeks preceding the race, myself and Walker Morgan of www.MPFab.com, spent most evenings out in the shop until the wee hours of the morning. I literally worked on the car until 12:30AM the morning of the race. All tasks were completed with the exception of installing the SSI Decals graphics kit. After loading the car in the trailer just before 1AM, I promptly headed north to the race course. Obviously with a huge sleep deficiency, I didn’t make it far. About an hour and a half into the trip, I felt the drive becoming dangerous and pulled over to catch some sleep.

Getting a few hours of shut eye was just what I needed to recharge the batteries enough to get to the track. I pulled in to Hawk Pride Mountain Off Road around 9AM. I quickly rolled out the new, untested race car to put it out on in the dirt for the first time. Nothing like bringing an untested race car to a four hour endurance race. To my surprise, the new car performed nearly flawlessly on the first lap. I made a couple of shock adjustments and headed back out for another lap. For more surprise, I accidently nailed the shock setup with those small changes. This year, Blue Torch Fab, took our stock shocks and made a few valving changes as well as installing a larger O.D. rear shaft. They were absolutely perfect for the UTV Rally Raid course.

13982153759_f0e5023fce_oNot wanting to push my luck, I rolled the near-perfect race car back under the tent to await the start of the race. Stitching up a new set of GBC Dirt Commanders to a new set of HiPer wheels was the last task before the race began. These wheels and tires have been amazing for me for the last three years. They deserve proper recognition for the role they play in our success. From the first time I tested with these wheels and tires, no other shoes have been worn on our race cars.

As the race neared and staging began, you could cut the tension with a knife. Months of preparation from 54 race teams was about to be put to the test. Everyone has their best foot forward and is on the top of their game. Unfortunately, I drew a 12th row start, meaning there are 22 people that will be on the track in front of me. UTVRR starts 2 at a time, 30 seconds apart. This is a great way to get a lot of people on the track at once and provide constant exhilaration during the entire event.

utvrr-1-2014-2As the green flag waved for row twelve, 6 minutes after the first row blasted onto the race course, I was able to slightly edge out the holeshot and head into the woods course with clean air. It wasn’t long until I was able to start picking off the earlier racers. The new race car was spot on and working perfectly.

After the second lap, I had moved my way into the race lead, but not yet the lead on the race course. It wasn’t until lap three that I actually passed into the course lead, putting me around 6 minutes ahead of the first row competitors. That’s one of the beauties of racing UTV Rally Raid. Everything is scored on elapsed time. You are in essence, racing the clock and not the other competitors. It’s a fascinating, confusing, frustrating, exhilarating and stressful way to compete.

utvrr-1-2014-1By lap five and six, I had the padded lead for which I was hoping. But to my dismay, about half way through the sixth lap, I began to notice an uncomfortable noise and vibration coming from the passenger side, rear wheel assembly. Unfortunately, the right/rear wheel studs were finished racing for the evening. They decided to eject themselves from the hub, most likely due to wheel stud breakage, about 300 yards before the lap finish. I was able to limp across the scoring line on three wheels/tires. The missing wheel passed me on the race course, which was fairly embarrassing.

For a slight consolation prize, I was able to bring home another fastest lap award, which is evidence of the high level of performance the new XP1000 is eager to achieve. The number of performance products on this vehicle are very minimal, but very important. Here’s the list:

All in all, I consider this event a success. The RZR XP 1000 performed flawlessly, minus four wheel studs, and my race strategy was working perfectly. We have proven that Octane Racing is a force to be reckoned with in 2014 and we are eager to get back on the track do work.

Round 2 of UTV Rally Raid is back at Hawk Pride Mountain Off Road on June 14th.

For more information, please connect with us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OctaneRaceTeam/ and our official team website at http://www.octaneraceteam.com.

For more information on UTV Rally raid, visit http://www.utvrr.com.

For more information on Polaris and the Polaris RZR XP 1000, visit http://www.polaris.com/en-us/rzr-side-by-side/rzr-xp-1000-eps-white-lightning-le.

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