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Ultra4 Europe: everything you need to know

Everyone knows everyting about King of the Hammers, its kings and how Ultra4 Racing was born. And what about Ultra4 Europe? Its kings and its champions? In this article I will try to tell you everything you need to know about Ultra4 Europe.

Photography and story by Paolo Baraldi

In 2009 videos, pictures and stories from King of the Hammers started to arriving in Europe and immediately a large number of european offroad enthusiast was love for this kind of race.

 

My first King of the Hammers was in 2011 and from that moment I could no longer live without it. At the same time the fame of the King of the Hammers was growing more and more in Europe to became now one of the most famous races among European offroaders.

European drivers at King of the Hammers

In 2012 Axel Burmann (Belgium) was the first European driver to participate in the King of the Hammers, followed in 2013 by Jim Marsden, Pier Acerni, Stephane Zosso and again Axel Burmann. In the following years many other drivers went or returned to compete at KOH as Pier Acerni with Will Overton as co-pilot and until recent years with the Team Europe 2019 (Nicolas Montador, Iñaki Lanzagorta Egia, Neville Ciantar, Daniel Roderick, Michael Hen and the Vekeman brothers) and Team Europe 2020 (Iñaki Lanzagorta Egia, Bernd Schäfer, Shabs Piercy and Philon Parpottas). It is correct to remember that the Italian Fabio Manno, who moved to live in America, took part in his first KOH in 2011.

How is born Ultra4 Europe

2012 is the year of the first Ultra4 race in Europe; the race took place in Wales and was called King of Valleys. For 2 years the King of Valleys represented Ultra4 Racing in Europe. In 2013 the King of Portugal was added and in 2014 Ultra4 Europe was born with its championship composed of 3 races: King of the Mountains (IT), King of Valleys (UK) and King of Portugal (P).

Today, Ultra4 Europe is an huge reality in the European offroad world

Every year there are 4 races and even if the race course is different from that in the Johnson Valley, Ultra4 Europe offers to its drivers a very difficult and demanding races. Due to the diversity of the competition fields (rocks, mud, water, forests and dusty-fast tracks) it can be said that the Ultra4 Europe championship is one of the most complete in Europe.

 

As for Ultra4 Racing, the categories of Ultra4 Europe are: 4400 Unlimited, 4800 Legend, 4600 Stock, 4500 Modified and 4900 UTV but the races format is different from the American one; normally we run on the weekend, preceded by qualifying and this year by the Shootout, on a racetrack with some different variations according to the category.

 

Ultra4 Europe 2020 schedule: 

- BF Goodrich King of Spain - 15-17 May, Spain – A new site. The closest to Johnson Valley we have ever seen!

- BF Goodrich King of France - 19-21 June, France – Rock, rock and more rock. Short and gnarly.

- BF Goodrich King of Britain – 17-19 July Britain – The original European race and special for its terrain and climate.

- BF Goodrich King of Poland - 4-6 September, Poland – The peoples choice, fast flowing and a great party.

- BF Goodrich Ultra4 International Invitational Race – 23-25 October, Secret location. You will know when you receive an invitation

U4E, did you know that?

The Italian Pier Aceni was the first winner of the King of the Valleys. Pier won also the 2013 edition of the race.

 

Shannon Campbell was in Wales in 2013 and, with Dave Cole as co-pilot, he drove Jim Marsden’s car.

 

In 2014 Levi Shirley was the first Ultra4 Europe champion with three out of 4 races won.

 

In 2017 Casey Currei won the King of Portugal.

 

In 2019 JT Taylor drove Axel Burmann’s cars at King of France.

 

Jim Marsden, driving his Little Lady, is the 2019 Ultra4 Europe champion with an important record: he is the only driver with the most victories from 2012 to 2019. He won 6 races!

 

In Europe there are great Ultra4 rigs builders such as Rob Butler (Offroad Armory) and Nicolas Montador (WSR Offroad). Both are building their new vehicles for the 2020 season and both rigs will be IFS.

 

Rob Butler is the only European to race in an IFS Single Seater and was the first in Europe to build IFS vehicles.

 

In 2019 Kerry Hufton as an Ultra4 Europe staff member has switched to the competitors as co-pilot of Nicolas Montador.

 

The Ultra4 Europe team is made up of very professional and very passionate people. Everyone works behind the scenes to make every race perfect. Chris Bowler and David Robson are best known to all.

Ultra4 Europe Kings and Champions

2019

- King of Spain Les Comes (E): Jim Marsden (UK)

- King of France (FR): Rob Butler (UK)

- King of Britain (UK): Jim Marsden (UK)

- King of Poland (PL): Jim Marsden (UK)

- U4E Champion: Jim Marsden (UK)

 

2018

- King of France (FR): Jim Marsden (UK)

- King of Britain (UK): Jesus Pato (E)

- King of Portugal (P): Jorge Araujo (P)

- King of Poland (PL): Axel Burmann (B)

- U4E Champion: Jorge Araujo (P)

 

2017

- King of France (FR): Bailey Cole (USA)

- King of Wales (UK): Rob Butler (UK)

- King of Portugal (P): Casey Currie (USA)

- King of Britain (UK): Bailey Cole (USA)

- U4E Champion: Jelle Janssens (B)

 

2016

- King of France (FR): Emmanuel Costa (P)

- King of Italy (IT): Emmanuel Costa (P)

- King of Britain (UK): Jim Marsden (UK)

- King of Portugal (P): Emmanuel Costa (P)

- U4E Champion: Emmanuel Costa (P)

 

2015

- King of Italy (IT): Rob Butler (UK)

- King of Valleys (UK): Nicolas Montador (FR)

- King of Portugal (P): Emmanuel Costa (P)

- U4E Champion: Filipe Guimareas (P)

 

2014

- King of the Mountains (IT): Levi Shirley (USA)

- King of Glens (UK): Jim Marsden (UK)

- King of the Valleys (UK): Levi Shirley (USA)

- King of Portugal (P): Levi Shirley (USA)

- U4E Champion: Levi Shirley (USA)

 

2013

- King of the Valleys (UK): Pier Acerni (IT)

- King of Portugal (P): Emmanuel Costa (P)

 

2012

 

- King of the Valleys (UK): Pier Acerni (IT)      

About King of the Hammers and Ultra4

King of the Hammers, founded in 2007, takes place every year in the early days of February in the Johnson Valley.

 

King of the Hammers is an off-road race that combines desert racing and rock crawling. This race is held on Means Dry Lake at Johnson Valley, California United States. King of The Hammers race week has expanded from one race, Nitto King of The Hammers, held each year on Friday, to a series of 5 races held throughout the week. The races include King of the Motos, Can AM UTV Race, the Every Man Challenge Race, the Toyo Desert Invitational (Unlimited Trophy Trucks), and the Ultra4 vs. Rock Bouncer shootout held on Monday night of race week.

 

The race vehicles used at the King of the Hammers are known as Ultra 4 vehicles which are capable of speeds over 100 miles per hour for the desert sections, but still contain gear ratios of 100 to 1 or lower for technical rock crawling. This Ultra4 class is unlimited 4400, and every vehicle is custom fabricated by each team. Traditional design for the front drive-train is a straight axle design, but (IFS) or (Independent front suspension) is becoming a popular design for the high speeds achieved in the wide open plains of the desert. Most racers use highly modified engines that can have up to (800 hp). 40" tires are common and racers use beadlock wheels. Competitors start side-by-side, two vehicles every thirty seconds, and must complete the course in fewer than 14 hours. Each team must pass through seven checkpoints and at all times while staying within one hundred feet of the centerline of the course. KOH is a no-chase-team race; repairs can only be done on the track by the racers or in the pit area.