Archive for June, 2014

The Beast Cometh — 2014 King of the Mountains

June 26th2014

The Beast Cometh -- 2014 King of the MountainsSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

Nicolas Montador is no stranger to racing. He likely has more Ultra4 miles on his current machine than most of the field combined, which shows when he powers through the course like walking in a comfortable pair of broken-in boots. Nicknamed “The Beast” by I’m not sure who but I’d guess many, Nicolas continues to place within the top of the field each and every race. This consistency has earned Nicolas 6th place at King of the Mountains and the top spot in overall series points so far in the Ultra4 European Circuit. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, I was unable to find any official series points (wink wink Neil), so I guess this call is a bit unofficial for now.

Nicolas is the owner of WSR, a shop builder (and Spidertrax distributor) out of France. He has a new machine in the works, likely going to debut in the 2015 season. From the few spy shots we’ve seen, it’s going to be a pretty big deal and will certainly take Nicolas to the next level of performance racing. Other racers, get ready.

Behind the Scenes — 2014 King of the Mountains

June 26th2014

Behind the Scenes -- 2014 King of the MountainsSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

When a driver takes the podium, you’ll often hear them thank the hard work of their team, saying something along the lines of without them they wouldn’t be where they are. You may miss these team members, as they are often scattered throughout the race course, but make no mistake. They are working full steam, behind the scenes, as spectators have their eyes on the drivers these teams have their eyes on everything else. On the top of this mountainside, some distance from the start/finish, I found Levi’s sister & mom (mom’s just off camera, to the left). They were watching Levi race over the King Shock Zone (that’s Levi in the distance, centered), a rutted section that only the most tuned suspensions could speed thru. They weren’t just watching though, they were timing.

As I would find out only slightly before taking this photo, due to Italian rules and regulations, races such as these have a “minimum” lap time. I know, sounds a bit odd, but I can only guess the logic here is to control the types of vehicles on roads that are used both privately and publicly. I could be a bit off in those finer details, but as it stood the minimum lap time for any single lap at King of the Mountains was 38 minutes, any faster and you would receive a penalty. Drivers hadn’t gotten very close to that 38 minute mark, that is until Levi was coming in hot from his 3rd run (pictured here). Watching the times, and communicated with the team, Levi ended his 3rd run with the fastest time in the entire event. Get this, a 38:02 .

Yup, team work is important.


Revenge of the Fighter — 2014 King of the Mountains

June 25th2014

Revenge of the Fighter -- 2014 King of the MountainsSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

If you think this rig looks a bit like Levi Shirley’s winning Ultra4 racer, you’d be correct. Rob Butler, shown here driving an O.R.A. Eurofighter, just so happens to be the builder & retailer of these very same machines. Rob and Levi debuted two Eurofighters in Scotland at the King of the Glens, a race with enough mud to swallow up most Ultra4 machines (literally). After a few days of cleaning, and a little more tuning, Levi and Rob gave these Eurofighers a second chance at last weekends King of the Mountains. The result? Levi grabbed a 1st place finish and Rob grabbed a 3rd place finish. So, that’s two podium finishes for the all new Eurofighter, in one event! We expect to see more great things from these great machines, be sure to keep an eye out for more as the Ultra4 European season continues.

Man on a Mission — 2014 King of the Mountains

June 25th2014

Man on a Mission -- 2014 King of the MountainsSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

Meet Roberto Ciani of Ciani Offroad, otherwise known as the man on a mission. I first met up with Roberto and his team during tech inspection, and the clean lines of his Spider 9 powered Ultra4 racer certainly caught my attention. A reminder, and reassurance, that we’ll be seeing new freshly minted rigs here and there, making the competition more fierce each and every race. That, plus Roberto knows how to drive, and man did he drive.

He was one of the fastest on the course, and it was only small, but painful, setbacks that held him back (flat tire & rear sway bar bracket) . Never giving up, Roberto stayed on Levi’s tail the entire time, and gave everyone else that push to drive harder. It was a pleasure meeting the Ciani Offroad team, we do hope to see Roberto back out on the race course soon.

Chameleon — 2014 King of the Mountains

June 24th2014

Chameleon -- 2014 King of the MountainsSpidertrax | Thom Kingston | CC BY 3.0

It’s only natural we kick off the racing portion of our photo set with the Mountain King himself, Levi Shirley. As I hiked from on top of the meadow, miles in from the start line, I was fortunate enough to run into course designer Pier Acerni, who was speeding off making last-minute course checks prior to the start of Run 2. I hitchhiked down to the valley below, and low and behold the glory of a rock infested dry river bed lay before me. I sat ready, knowing Levi Shirely would be first to kick things off. In roughly 7 minutes from the start, Levi came speeding through in a manner only fit for a king. He would complete this 2nd of 4 runs with the fastest overall time yet, 43:37. This ended up being the 2nd fastest time of the entire event, beaten only by himself the very next day (Run 3, 38:02).