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2015 King of Wales: Final Race Day

August 9th2015
 By Robb Pritchard on 2015-08-09T14:11:14-06:00 | King of Wales

Spidertrax | Robb Pritchard | CC BY 3.0

Spidertrax | Robb Pritchard | CC BY 3.0

Ultra4 Europe Round 2
Maxxis King of Wales
Day 2. 5 laps

I think it was Kahlil Gibran who said we only know the heights of our happiness because of the depths of our sorrow. It’s the same with the Welsh weather. From glorious blue skies yesterday we woke this morning in dismay, if not really surprise, to blanket fog and sheets of drizzle. And the strange whoosing noises from the speeding wind turbines.

Last night was the first ever Ultra4 Night Stage, sponsored by Wilderness Lights, and the forest was lit up with powerful beams cutting through the tress and dust. It was a much better light show than anything I’ve seen in Las Vegas or the pyramids. Jim Marsden, recovering time from his broken ARB problems was fastest, but the stage, similar to the prologue, was too short to gain more than a few seconds back.

This morning it was quite hard to work out the leaderboard because everyone had a different story about who had penalties and how much they might be, although undisputed penalty champion was Jerry Hunt who managed to amass an impressive 3:40 from such varied infringements as pitlane speeding, driving without a helmet and for knocking over Levi. So, a little unsure of the gaps the top guys shot off at top speed instead of driving to a time. Struggling with a very big rock at the top of the steps Marsden’s transfer box decided to find out the tolerance limit for the internals. And exceeded them. Fortunately he was just 100 meters from the pits so winched himself along to his mechanics. It was fixed in about half an hour but half a lap later broke a steering knuckle and unfortunately that proved terminal.

That left Mondator and Butler to fight it out in the lead and their battle developed into one of the most intense fights we’ve ever seen in Europe. They spent a couple of laps with just a few seconds between them, and there’s something special to see in Rob’s driving when he’s pushing it.

Filipe Guimanaes was either in 1st or 3rd depending on who you talked to but had a few problems and dropped a lap… but only to Montador, such was the sheer toughness of the course and the speed of the Frenchman. The Portuguese driver was still in 3rd though, Levi ahead… but there was no sign of Butler. Time began to tick away and a little later so did hope. A problem with the rear diff comprising of more pieces than it should meant that he was crawling around in 2wd winching over all the rocks he’d raced over all weekend. But going so slow made the fuel consumption much higher so he ran out before he got to the pits. The message to the pit crew for a spanner got a little lost in translation as the Portuguese team said that he needed an English Key.

From the moment the rear prop and drive shafts lost contact in Rob’s Euro Fighter the race was Montador’s. He was 3rd in the 2014 Ultra4 Europe Championship thanks to some consistent drives, but it was pure speed and aggression here in Wales that brought him his first win. Behind in 2nd, adding a matching result to Italy gives Portugal’s Guimanaes the championship lead. Classified 4th was Levi Shirley, ahead of a slightly disappointed Rob Butler.

But the drama for the podium wasn’t over until the very last couple of metres. Somehow, against all expectations, especially his, Malta’s Neville Cianter again earned the title of Kingslayer. As others fell by the wayside he kept going… until less than 100 metres from the finish line. He had to stay there helpless until Drew Wright in the diesel powered Euro Fighter came to tow him over the line, an act that won the diesel Euro Fighter driver the Spirit of the Event award. It was an emotional end to a spectacular race.

Edit 2015-08-09T14:43:31-06:00: Final scores, courtesy of Ultra4Europe.com