Read all about it; as it was ….
This weekend was the European Ultra4 Series final race for 2015 in Portugal. Vimioso was awash with Orange Maxxis sponsorship banners as the town embraced the world of 4×4 knowing their terrain and infamous Dinosaur Eggs were a worthy challenge of man and machine, teams gathered from all over Europe to compete.
First came the prologue to settle the starting positions. The mountain side roared with the sound of engines leaving trails of dust in their wake. Team Big Rocks (173) driver Filipe Guimaraes enthusiasm for being on home turf certainly entertained as he tipped over on the tyre obstacle and doughnuted on his side to the delighted applause of the crowds who got involved cheering the teams across the finish line. Craig Little from team Pembs Mudslingers (044) flew round surprising many
including Jim Marsden of team Gigglepin Racing (69) who’s position on the start line was settled at 4 places behind, Craig Little who went on to win second prize in his category, he offered in jest to ‘sell Jim back his old car’. The side by sides didn’t let their size affect them as they leapt across the finish line showing they were just as good as the big boys at entertaining the spectators.
Day one of the race proved challenging as the Unlimited classed cars scrambled up the rocks over taking others who had to winch themselves up the steep boulders. Airhorns rang out as the cars bottlenecked at extreme obstacles with drivers competing to exit the zone first. Dust filled the air as the cars raced through the countryside accompanying the sound of engines opened up to full power through the long speed straights allowing spectators to see in the distance the extent of the 26km course. Simplicio Goncalves of team Off Road Project (22) entertained as he tipped his car on its side in front of the crowds, whilst Jim Marsden choose a more discreet corner to roll over unfortunately that afternoon, knocking himself out of the competition with fire damage to the electrics having clawed back to second place in the morning, ‘some repairs required before we can compete in the Graf Adventure in a couple of weeks’ Jim sighed wiping the dust from his eyes, the course tested many an experienced driver. Before the afternoon’s four laps begin the pits are a hive of activity, Off Road Armoury (187) are replacing their gear box, Team Buzz Sweet’s (9) Co driver Ed Webber is too upset to talk but their re-found fighting spirit took them through to day two to be foiled by brake failure finishing in 15th position. Other cars are returned to base where the commaradery begins as teams donate parts to others and those that have run out of spares like team Ciani (31) are found helping fix the neighbours bent axle to get them back into the competition ready for the night stage, sponsored by Lazer Lighting, the hills back at the prologue section were lit up, testing the teams stamina and skills to the enthusiasm of the crowds.
Day 2 started with fewer cars as the Vimioso terrain had claimed many casualties the day before, with fewer cars in the competition positions were changing constantly in a bid for the title and prize money. The dust remained a continual challenge as opponents dust trails both goaded an overtake manouver and tested the drivers capabilities to the limits. The special section known as the “Dinosaur Eggs” was slightly tweaked for the second day’s running giving a new angle on the rocks to contend with.
The Saturday crowds swelled encouraging the dust clad, fatigued drivers and machines to the finish line.
Victory was claimed by team EC4x4 (77) Emanuel Costa to be crowned King of Portugal, Rob Butler of Off Road Armoury (187)(King of Italy 2015) claimed second posistion and third place went to Big Rock (173) Fillipe Guimaraes.
We eagerly await to see what Ultra4 Europe 2016 brings as Director Richard Crossland is planning an extended series of more short courses after their success at Kirton he joked ‘we will have more then the States’, Ultra4 US Director JT Taylor ignores the tease with a gracious smile, as he confirms ‘Levi Shirley was unable to attend Portugal, he’s protecting his US title, but the European series is attracting the attention of other US drivers interested in taking on the European Challenge’, our unique challenges certainly tested Levi, he confessed to 4×4 channel TV back in Wales, ‘l’ve never experienced driving in fog before’, ‘welcome to Wales, and the dragons breath’ we replied.
You can keep upto date with Ultra4’s Europe’s schedule HERE