Home > King of the Glens > We’re back from Scotland, Spider9s hold their ground.

We’re back from Scotland, Spider9s hold their ground.

May 28th2014
 By Thom Kingston on 2014-05-28T10:27:08-07:00 | King of the Glens |

Yup, It Feels Good to Win -- 2014 King of the GlensSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

Just like that, the wonderfully sweet Europcar attendant handed over my rental car keys, you know, for my right-hand drive, manual transmission, little Kia powered monster. Getting ready to leave the airport in the heat of Edinburgh rush hour traffic, it occurs to me there’s one more item left to finish. There we go, a final signature on the full insurance non-deductible rental car waiver, and now we’re ready to go. The journeys we make for racing are extraordinary, but there is something quite special about traveling around to world to race with a group that is as passionate, as competitive, as those household names we have come to know here in the states. And man, what a journey this was.

May 22nd – 24th marked the first Ultra4 Europe race of the 2014 season, the Maxxis King of the Glens, taking place in the grassy foothills of Aberfeldy’s Griffin Forest in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. First quick lesson, don’t let that beautiful Scottish green grass fool you, in the depths of Griffin Forest lay some of the nastiest, most vicious, mud pits this Rocky Mountain American ever did see. So much mud in fact, it caught almost the entire field of Ultra4 racers completely off guard, demanding a driving style reminiscent of Europe’s popular winch challenges. While it left many drivers mentally and physically exhausted, diversity is ultimately what makes Ultra4 racing so unique, so different.

Venues and courses range the entire spectrum in Ultra4, from hill climbing in Pikes Peak to racing the mixed high-speed desert & rock gardens of King of the Hammers. It’s not so much that King of the Glens packed a healthy punch of mud (alright, maybe just a bit too much), it’s that no driver pre-ran the course and knew just what they were signing up for. So goes a new venue, certainly not the first time drivers were caught off guard at, or during, an Ultra4 race. Make no mistake, as long as there are new venues & new races, there will be new obstacles & challenges to conquer.

Muddy course aside, King of the Glens knocked it out of the park in so many ways. Live trackers were standard, course marshals were spot on, recovery teams were among the best we’ve seen, and event coordination by Neil Whitford was as organized as one would hope for. Plus, a few Scottish Maxxis girls came out to help, that certainly added a welcome extra credit bonus.

When the mud finally did settle, it was the focused high-speed, give me any-terrain, driving skills of winch master Jim Marsden that took top honors. It was his race to win, and man did he ever so win. Jim ended up being the only competitor, out of 20, to finish all 4 laps (that’s nearly 20 miles each lap, 2 per day, over two days). In addition, after factoring in total times of all laps from all drivers, Jim lead the field with a roughly 3-1/2 hour lead over second place. It was Jim’s first competition of the season in his freshly minted Spider 9 powered Land Rover, and in terrain as harsh as this, it was awesome watching Spider 9s tackle the field like no other. By a rough guess, it appeared Spider 9s were on nearly 40% of the running field; as it happened the top three finishers, Jim Marsden, Jaap Betsema, and Nicolas Montador, were all powered by Spider 9s. That is pretty cool.

We have some photos to share, and more products to build, so best to get back to it. Look out for some shots from the Maxxis King of the Glens throughout the week, and before we sign off congrats to Jim Marsden & Mark Birch for a well deserved victory. Next up in the Ultra4 Europe circuit is King of the Mountains near Parma, Italy. Time to learn Italian.