Nitto Tire is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the motorsports world. As the 2014 TORC season opened, Nitto announced joining TORC as a major series sponsor as well as partnering with Ross Hoek, driver of the #10 2014 Toyota Tundra Pro4 Race Truck. Nitto Tire is a Japanese company that launched in the US with an emphasis on auto enthusiasts and continues to prove its meddle by competing in motorsports known to be brutally tough on tires – Formula Drift, Ultra4, drag racing, and now TORC (The Off-Road Championship).
Ross Hoek joins Nitto as a former Pro2 World Champion who is entering his second year in the Pro 4x4 (Pro4) Championship. Chris Corbett, Nitto Tire’s Light Truck & Off-Road representative stated, “We're excited to partner with Ross and his team for the 2014 season. Hoek Motrsports race program will help to further develop our Grappler Short Course tires.”
Ross Hoek Motorsports left their snow-covered shop in Holland, MI and headed for the warmer climate of the Mojave Desert for the TORC season opener in Primm, NV April 5-6th. Bringing with them their brand new race truck, #10 2014 Toyota Tundra 4WD which is powered by an unrestricted V8 making over 850 HP and runs on specialized Nitto Grappler S/C’s. With a brand new race truck, of course, comes brand new bugs to work out. The two testing days before the race certainly paid off for both Hoek and Nitto. Ross, being new to Pro4, was being mentored by Ricky Johnson - one of the off-road racing’s all-time greats. Johnson was also Hoek’s spotter on race days.
The team’s hard work almost earned a podium finish in Round One. Hoek worked his way through the field and battled the other top trucks throughout the race. As Adrian Cenni beat Johnny Greaves for the top position, Cenni’s teammate Mark Kvammi nipped Hoek for the final podium position in the final laps.
As the team prepared for Sunday’s second round, the trick would be to work with the overnight changes made to the track. Hoek admitted to being at a disadvantage on the small track in Primm, as “our transmission is set up for larger, longer tracks, like Crandon and Bark River.” Hoek, still learning the nuances of Pro4 vs. Pro2, took the green flag from the pole position. Although he battled valiantly against the likes of Greaves and Cenni, the win was not to be and the team finished in sixth place. The race provided a lot of great action and Hoek performed admirably against some of the most experienced Pro-4 drivers on the planet.
After the race, Hoek was upbeat about his performance, “Our team is definitely making progress getting our lap times closer to the top drivers in our class.” Looking toward the future, Hoek noted another advantage to having Nitto as a sponsor, “Nitto Tire is also a TORC series sponsor which helps Ross Hoek Motorsports with great track support. Look for our team to get quicker and quicker as the season progresses. Ultimately our goal for this season is to put our Nitto Tire/TrailReady/Motive Gear/ATD Transmission/Allstar Performance Pro 4x4 on the podium.” The team can be proud that their truck was one of only four to complete every lap over the weekend, proving their toughness - and toughness is what this sport is all about.
Catch the next race April 25-26 at the Dirt Track in Charlotte, NC. If you’re not in the area, it will be streamed live at Nitto Racing!