Zukiworld Challenge at the Yerington 300
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo:E. Bewley, G. Mikkelson
Yerington, NV – The Season Opener for the Zukiworld Challenge was held in conjunction with the Vorra desert racing association. The Yerington 300 a long-standing favorite race for Vorra members served as the backdrop for the beginning race. Kris with #Z37 Trouble Racing, David with #Z01 Zukiworld Order, and yours truly with #Z41 Liberty Overland entries began the race on a beautiful Sunday Morning. Wait, let’s back up a minute. We just have to say how awesome it was that the town of Yerington is so welcoming. There was talk on the Vorra forum about a parade and we had done of couple of those with them previously to mixed results but this town really gets out and they line the streets to see all the race trucks. It’s a real parade with escort and all the fanfare that you’d expect. This set the stage for a fun and friendly weekend not soon to be forgotten.
The entry field was up this year to a total of 58 race vehicles & teams. There were many teams we had recognized from previous races but a lot of new, to us, faces and some really cool race trucks. We all got to and through tech and then hung out for the driver’s meeting after which was this cool parade I was talking about earlier. If I’d known, I’d brought some candy to throw!
Then it was off to the pits to prepare for the next day and the race that lay ahead.
ZW: Tell us about your race. You had pre-run parts of the course, did that seem to provide an advantage?
Z37: For what I was able to run (51 miles), the Yerington Race was a very mixed track. There was some really fast sections, and at speeds at 55+ our Tracker was awesome, the suspension and balance was just right.
ZW: You have the largest HP in the class, can you tell me how the Aerio engine swap is working for you? I’ve heard that the flat out speed is fantastic!
Z37: We even made it to 75, which Kris informed me was 10% slow. On the rougher portions of the track we needed more compression on the front end. When pulling hard on motor, we tended to overheat, which was almost solved by going to low range.
ZW: You ended the day early with a suspension problem.
Z37: Another race and another DNF with suspension issues. This time it was one of our limiting straps tearing slightly and allow a rear spring to fall out, kind of ironic since we replaced the old straps when we noticed they were starting to tear. Once again it was the unexpected that took us out of the race, hopefully we will get it sorted out so we can start turning the car in for the 500 in September. Loosing a rear spring (along with the overheating issue), meant we could not crawl over the ridge to complete one lap.
ZW: Final thoughts?
Z37: Vorra put on a great race and it was nice to have the tour through town to start things off. Hopefully we will get a few more Zuki’s out for next year.
ZW: You drew first in the starting order. How do you like that?
Z41: In general, I don’t care to start first or even early in the pack. It seems to be a pretty good advantage to be able to see the pace of the competitors and then adjust strategy on the fly. I had a new co-pilot this race, Matt and he did an excellent job of keeping me on the track. Specially on the first lap where you really don’t know where things are.
ZW: So, how did your race go?
Z41: Everything started off well and I was able to run at a pace that was reasonable for the car and that would put us there at the end to push for the win. But as things go, we started to have a few problems along the way that got us behind the clock and the other teams.
ZW: Tell us about your difficulties.
Z41: It was just a lot of little things that added up. The first thing that started to go was the bolts holding our center mount loosened which is not a big thing unless they actually come out and then there’s some serious damage. But I could feel it happening and so I nursed it in the last 5 miles or so of the first lap and we addressed it in the pit. Unfortunately, the repair was lengthy and we went down probably a half lap from that. After that we lost most of the exhaust from in front of the collector back, oxygen sensor included, which made for a unpleasant rest of the race. Another interesting note, when the recently-bared heater wire from the oxy sensor grounds out, it blows the ECU fuse.
ZW: You didn’t finish. What happened?
Z41: Well, the rear suspension link came loose again a little earlier than the last lap, this made me slow up to keep the rig together vs. doing a field repair. When we got back into the pit everybody jumped on it to get me going but in running the times, we just couldn’t make it around before the clock ran out. With a heavy heart, I called it.
ZW: First off, congratulations on a convincing win. How did the race come together for your team?
Z01: Greg and I started last of three off the line. I like this position because I can keep tabs on the competition from behind them. We started off at a nominal pace, warming up to the car and the course. Within a few miles we started to catch the dust of The Z37 car. We paced along in there dust for a few miles before they had to pull off due to a cooling system problem. We continued on pushing the car a little harder now in an effort to get Z41 in sight. A short time later a spectator tried to wave us down but we couldn’t tell why and didn’t want to lose any time so we forged on.
ZW: One down one to go.
Z01: Within 5 miles or so we could see the Z41 but we could not catch them. The course was very rough with lots of opportunities for damage along the sides. We continued to push and were finally able to get through the dust and up to the Z41 for a pass after 35 minutes. After this we had clear air and were able to keep the pace a little more easily. We drove through the pits and headed out for our second lap. Our plan was to do one long lap and one short lap before stopping for fuel. Our second lap was clean with no problems but when we came back to the pits for fuel, we were informed that we had lost both our spare tires.
ZW: Loosing both spares stinks. I guess that spectator wanted to tell you something important. What happened next?
Z01: We quickly pulled one from my wife’s XL7 and loaded it on the race truck. Heading out for lap three we made a stop by the spectator and found that he had picked up one of the spares and was going to bring it to the pit. We loaded it up and continued on, keeping our eye out for the second spare. Things went pretty smooth for a while until lap four when we came head to head with a competitor going backwards on the course down a tight, one lane mountain pass. It seemed he had lost the alternator and decided going backwards on the course to his pit was the best decision. When we met, he hit the brakes and turned into the embankment, rolling onto his lid and almost off the cliff edge right in front of us blocking the road. His truck was twice the size of ours and we tried to push it out of the way but could not move it. Very shortly, Don German, who placed second overall at the race, came up behind us and was not interested in waiting around. He and I managed to switch places on the single lane road with me hanging dangerously close to the cliff. His truck was large and heavy with much horsepower and he was able to ram the overturned truck far enough to the side for us to squeeze past.
ZW: Trucks going the wrong way, bumper trucks pushing rigs aside. Wow it was rough out there. How did the race finish up for your team?
Z01: The rest of the race was trouble free with lots of excitement as Trophy Trucks and Class One cars passed us. The roar of their engines and the sheer size and horsepower is nothing short of amazing as they power around you in the toughest terrain. Being sure to keep out of their way we finished the race without incident. Our total elapsed time, 9 hrs, 58min, with an average speed of just under 30MPH. Not bad for 85 horsepower!
We never did find the second spare.
David Capell and the Zukiworld Order Race Team Seem Unstoppable. Winning all of the long course events handily and most of the short course events too. Is there any of the teams that can challenge this well organized team?
The next race is at the Central Oregon Off-Road Race Park in Redmond, Oregon June 29th.