NITTO SWEEPS 2023 UTLRA4 FINALS AT THE LEGENDS OF HAVASU
The thrilling conclusion of 2023 Ultra4 off-road racing series was held at Standard Wash area of Lake Havasu, AZ where the contenders battled the desert rocks and dirt for the last round of points for the season.
The Arizona weather was perfect for a day of off-road racing, but the course was unforgiving in the Standard Wash BLM area where the race the 4400-class race was held.
The feeling of excitement was in the air on Saturday morning, with this being the last time the 4400 racers would battle it out for the season. The cars roared off the starting line though a valley leading up to were the pits were giving a great view for all the crews in pits cheering them on. Unfortunately there was several cars who would pull off on the first lap having unforeseen mechanical failures.
There was a lot of lead changes at the first ever Legends of Havasu in 2023, and Paul Horschel was seen drifting though a corner in his Nitto Trail Grappler equipped Bronco that has been custom built including rear steer capabilities.
Cade Rodd, who qualified 2nd was part of the of top 5 who were all Nitto drivers, can be seen here sending it over a jump though one of the long desert sections of the course.
The Havasu-based track had several fast sections which was very nice for racers to get a chance to cool down, because the sand sections created extra heat for the engines under heavy load, eventually leading to several failures.
Chad Hundt, who blasted his team Indiana 4400 race car though the desert to a top 10 finish, was presented with a very well deserved, Sportsman of the Year Award at the Ultrea4 annual awards banquet later that night to a very loud round of applause from his fellow racers.
UTV's battled hard during the long day of racing on Friday, after pre-running on Thursday and then qualifying on Friday. By the time the race rolled around most drivers were more than ready to get strapped in and race hard, unfortunately the rough terrain had other plans, leaving several drivers walking back to the pits.
New comer AK Whatley worked hard blasting himself from the back of the pack qualifying in the 44th place to 8th overall, he pushed hard in his new Fun Haver Off-Road Bronco built by Triton Engineering and was thrilled to have such a great day of racing.
Antonio Grijalva from Lets Roll Racing, who was in the 4800 of the Every Man Challenge battle hard and finished 4th in class and 6th overall. With 49 cars battling for position on the 36.9 mile course everyone was trying to stay fast but keep their cars together until the end of the race.
The 4600 class has the hardest time with the toughest power to weight ratio, and a DOT max tire size of 35 inches they are some of the true heroes in the sport. The teal Jeep Grand Cherokee of Jesse Bennett can be seen pushing hard though the rough 40 miles race course. Unfortunately the steering cooler began to leak and after a quart every 7 miles they threw in the towel at race mile 26.
As you can imagine, the dust began to play a huge role in how the race went, by helping some drivers keep a competitor off their tail while in a slow section or pushing though a corner. However, if you were trying to chase down another position it was almost impossible, which is why qualifying was so very crucial for this course specifically.
With nearly 40 miles of race course the 4400 class had plenty of wide open spaces to push hard and with 48 cars battling there was a never a dull moment on the race course. The wind helped sweep the dust away after cars roared by spectators and course workers, but drivers had helmet pumpers to keep fresh air going and even some drivers opening visors to help with visibility.
As he kicked up dust throughout the day with his Nitto Trail Grappler tires, Raul Gomez nearly took home the win.
In the end it was JP Gomez who fought hard and pushed his car even harder to earn the top spot on the podium of the 2023 Ultra4 Legends of Havasu off-road race.
2023 Ultra4 Legends of Havasu Race Results:
1.) Mark McCleerey
2.) Byron Starratt
3.) Rich Bersch
1.) Jake Versey
2.) Joshua Simth
3.) Robby Gordon
4900 Pro Mod
1.) Robert Parker
2.) Kory Willis
3.) Mike Park
1.) Loren Healy
2.) Alex Fleming
3.) Doug Lanford
1.) Logan Goodall
2.) Cody St. Claire
3.) Shawn Rants
1.) Brent Harrell
2.) Brain Trempe
3.) Jesse Lee
1.) JP Gomez
2.) Raul Gomez
3.) Bryan Crofts
2023 Ultra4 Season Points Championship Winner: