Archive for the ‘King of Wales’ Category

2015 King of Wales Night Stage

August 21st2015

Something new this year at the King of Wales was a night stage. Borrowing a bit from the success of the King of the Hammer’s Backdoor Challenge, the night stage brought its own mini competition, winners competition for their own 1st place spot. Course layout was simple but challenging: run the prologue course in reverse… and at night. Great fun all around, Jim Marsden took honors that night. Enjoy the video, and have a great weekend.

Take a ride with ORA.

August 20th2015

Reposted video from the Offroad-Armoury Facebook page. The driver’s seat tells a fantastic story, doesn’t it?  Offroad-Armoury is our official UK distributor, and their Eurofighter Ultra4 buggy is a force to be reckoned with. Here’s some background on the video above, courtesy of ORA.

Enter ORA.

King Of Wales 2015 – Final race day and we are lined up on the start line next to Jim Marsden, We shouted over to Jim when lining up “you go first!”… This might seem like a really odd thing to do… but there was method in our madness.

We knew that Jim would be aiming to get to the front of the pack anyway as quickly as he could, so we thought we would hang back behind him off the start and gently apply the pressure to him, this also set a nice leisurely pace for us early on as we knew full well it was going to be a long long day and a real endurance race.

Not to far in to the first lap whilst following Jim we had caught the two other cars in front, we then made good use of our air horns to let them know we were there, two clean passes allowed by two very professional fellow racers and then it was about to get serious. After a little traffic we caught Jim up again entering the Odyssey Arena, and with a short sprint up to the rock steps we were right on them and ready for the pass.

Team Gigglepin got hung up on the top step and unfortunately had an airline failure giving us the opportunity for a nice clean pass with the winch (GP Tuned 8274 Thanks Jim). Paul got buckled up again and then it was on, it was time to put some distance between us and Nicolas Montador, Nicolas managed to cling on to the back for a couple of laps which made for some exciting racing, but it was time to kick it up a few notches!

Rob and Paul turned up the gas on laps 3 & 4 constantly widening the gap and zooming in on the win!… but as this is off-road racing, anything can happen and you haven’t won until you cross that line… Towards the end of the 4th lap our rear differential started sounding very unhappy, so we backed off some what to try and make it to the finish line. However about 4km in to the final lap the rear axle locked and that was us done. Paul hopped out to inspect, & it was pretty clear the pinion seal had filed and lost all of the oil causing the collapsed of the pinion bearing.

We removed the rear drive shaft and popped the car in to front wheel drive, and was ready to retire… Paul and I looked at each other and decided we would attempt to finish the final lap in front wheel drive only… This was going to be a seriously tough undertaking… but we had a couple of hours left on the clock and the determination to get it done, so we cracked on in front wheel drive only!!

We slogged our guts out winching some seriously rough and steep wooded sections (Paul mainly doing the gut slogging whilst I piloted the car) But after roughly an hour of winching and struggling the car was starting to cough and splutter on the steep winch pulls, we were running low on fuel… it wasn’t worth taking the risk of completely running out of fuel and getting stranded miles from the pits…. we pulled out and still placed a very respectable 5th place.

King Of Wales is one race we really would love to win, we have come very very close before… but not quite! Maybe next year.


2015 King of Wales Race Day Videos

August 11th2015

Race Day 1

Race Day 2

Race Day 3

2015 King of Wales: Final Race Day

August 9th2015
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

2015 King of Wales: Prologue and Race Day 1

August 9th2015
Spidertrax | Robb Pritchard | CC BY 3.0

Spidertrax | Robb Pritchard | CC BY 3.0


The Ultra4 Europe series kicked off in Italy where the rolling hills put me in mind of something like Little House on the Prairie… but the deep forests of Wales is pure Blair Witch Project.

The Walter’s Arena course near Neath, not that far from Nowhere in South Wales, has a man-made section for spectators to watch the cars fly but the rest of the 2km qualifying lap was fast gravel through the unforgiving trees. Speed is what we love Ultra4 for!

With 43 cars in the paddock (‘pits’ in American English) King of Wales is, of course, many times smaller than the mother event in California but with the nervous tension and rumble of V8s the vibe is just the same. Guys with grimy finger nails greeting friends from far flung countries, ready to fight for every inch in the machines they’ve spent months building… the atmosphere here is brilliant.

Before the action started there was a line up of all the trucks running on the Spidertrax axles and the sheer international spread of the series was displayed in the trucks parked side-by-side. Teams from the UK, Malta, Portugal, France, USA and Belgium, all running Spider 9s.

The qualifying course a fast blast around the valley and one by one the cars were flagged off. The UK scene is heavily into winch challenges, dragging Land Rovers with big winches up impossible routes, and these are perfect for the Legends and Modified class, but the big beasts are all in the unlimited Ultra4 class and apart from Italy and Portugal this is the only place you can see them race.

The Welsh weather is famously inclement and we were expecting a mud-fest but the sun was out and we saw the strange sight of clouds of dust hanging above the trees. Jim Marsden in the Gigglepin Land Rover was on maximum attack and got around in 4:42, 8 seconds ahead of France’s Nicolas Montador. In an impressive 3rd, showing that his 2nd place finish in King of Italy was no fluke, was Filipe Guimanaes in the bright orange Big Rocks sponsored Portuguese Euro Fighter.

Rob Tunnah, finally out in his stunning full IFS car, was just ahead of KoI winner Rob Butler but race favourite Levi Shirley was slowed with an electrical issue that meant 12th on just 4 cylinders wasn’t as bad as it could have been. All is fixed now and he’ll be pushing tomorrow.

Talking of which… It’s a 19km lap of all the insane obstacles that Ultra4 courses are famous for, with some huge man-made steps to tackle. Ledges would be a better word and more than a few people’s hope will be broken here. The course opens at 9am, closes at 6 and the one who gets 6 laps done the quickest… will get to go first on the road on Sunday when another day awaits! You will have the exclusive report here! Read more…