Racing is life! For Ultra4 Europe it is essential to be able to let its drivers race and for this reason, as soon as the pandemic allowed it, it organized first the BF Goodrich King of Britain and now the BF Goodrich Essenzial. The race, one of the toughest, took place at the Kirton Off Road Center and saw Kieran Dunlop win the Ultra4 category while Allen Sharp dominated and won the Winch Rallye Raid.
Photography and story by Paolo Baraldi
Among the various negative aspects of this pandemic, we also find the impossibility of being able to do those things that we like and make us happy. For us offroaders, the impossibility of racing is certainly one of them. Richard Crossland, Managing Director of Ultra4 Europe, knows this very well and as soon as it was possible he created the BF Goodrich King of Britain which took place in Wales (Walters Arena) from 31st July to 2nd August.
During the KOB awards ceremony, Crossland promised to the teams present that he would organize another race as soon as possible; and so it was! From 2 to 4 October, Ultra4 Europe staged the BF Goodrich Essential at the Kirton Off Road Center (KORC) in Hibaldstow, a village in North Lincolnshire (UK).
BF Goodrich Essential, because racing is life!
The name chosen for this second and final race of the 2020 Ultra4 Europe season is explanatory of the meaning of being able to compete. Racing is essential, it is life!
With this important concept in mind, the Core Team of Ultra4 Europe has committed itself by giving each of their maximum possibilities to make the BF Goodrich Essential epic, unique and unforgettable.
Chris Bowler, who also received compliments from JT Taylor, put his experience to good use to design a race track that best represented the standards and difficulties of a race in the name of Ultra4. Chris, took full advantage from the terrain of the Kirton Off Road Center by preparing a 7 km race course and a 1.8 km prologue.
Ultra4 and Winch Rallye Raid. Different twins but united in the offroad name
After the huge success at the BF Goodrich King of Britain which saw the Winch Challenge guys racing in an Ultra4 race for the first time, also in this race, in addition to the Ultra4 Europe drivers, the best English teams in the Winch Rallye Raid category fought each other and since this experiment has been successful twice, I wouldn't be surprised to see it repeated again in 2021.
Indeed, Richard Crossland, during the awards ceremony, said that he will immediately get to work to organize the 2021 season with certainly races in the UK but also in the rest of Europe.
3, 2, 1, start your engines! The prologue of the BF Goodrich Essential is staged
On Friday 2 October at 4.30 pm the roar of the engines joyfully invaded the Kirton Off Road Center for the prologue of the Essential. Starting from the Winch Rallye Raid category and ending with the 4400 Unlimited, one by one the 34 drivers competing took to the field to get the best time in qualifying.
In the Winch Rallye Raid, Simon Ward and Austin James with a time of 1: 48.079 were the fastest followed by Jim Bubb and Michael Brown (1: 50.770) and with Allen Sharp and Alex Wilson in third place (1: 53.527).
- Winch Rallye Raid prologue rnking
1° Simon Ward / Austin James
2° Jim Bubb / Michael Brown
3° Allen Sharp / Alex Wilson
4° James Whitton / David Needham
5° Sam Webster / Henry Essam
6° Robert Ward / Karl Auckland
7° Leigh Jefferies / Louise Wadsworth
8° Mike Kerr / Neil Allwright
9° Tom Sharp / Tom Jolliffe
10° John Norton / Connor Billing
11° Scott Haines / James Watts
12° Chris Booth / Tom Booth
13° Rob Curling / Paul Hitchman
14° Zac Dambrauskas / Jack Watson
15° Ryan Lawrence / Anthony Waterfield
16° Dave Adams / Paul Curling
17° Alex Danells-Mayes / Jess Danells-Mayes
18° Kevin Bates / Joby Hooley
19° Raymond Davidson / Rolland Scott
In the 4400 class, Peter Jackson and Giles Hurst set the fastest time (1: 33.826) followed closely by Jim Marsden and James Ayre (1: 36.135) and with Dan Roderick and Dan Thomas third (1: 38.613).
- 4400 Unlimited prologue ranking
1° Peter Jackson / Giles Hurst
2° Jim Marsden / James Ayre
3° Dan Roderick / Dan Thomas
4° Shabs Piercy / Si Sagar
5° Kieran Dunlop / Mick Sagar
6° Mark Dean / Chris Roberts
Luke Clayton (2: 08.482) qualified first in the 4500 class, Ryan Beresford (2: 07.132) in the 4600, Darren Brooks (2: 05.426) in the 4800 and Philon Parpottas (1: 44.131) in the 4900.
- 4500 Modified prologue ranking
1° Luke Clayton / Andy Frost
2° Ryan Dunn / Paul Dunn
- 4600 Stock prologue ranking
1° Ryan Beresford / Scott Beresford
2° Andrew Brookes / Edd Cobley
- 4800 Legends prologue ranking
1° Darren Brooks / James Pilbeam
2° Craig King / Paddy
3° Thomas Britten / Anthony Guerreiro
- 4900 UTV prologue ranking
1° Philon Parpottas / Ryan Tomason
2° Richard Hopkins / Zac Powell
Welcome to hell, oops sorry... welcome to the GateKeeper
In the Ultra4 world there are trails that have become legendary like the Backdoor, the Chocolate Thunder or the Jackhammer and in Europe like the Dinosaur Eggs. After the BF Goodrich Essential, the GateKeeper also entered in the Ultra4 list of infernal trails.
Chris Bowler is the creator of this breath-taking trails which consists of a steep descent with steps carved into the rock, followed by a short flat stretch to then give the best of himself with a steep climb on rock that required more skills such as freeclimber than as a pilot.
Saturday morning, under an incessant rain that made everything even more difficult, the Ultra4 drivers, after just over halfway, found themselves facing the GateKeeper. You can very well imagine that in a short time this passage has turned into a circle of hell with a traffic jam of cars and co-drivers piled together in the last attempt to reach the "summit". All this in the first heat on Saturday and it was repeated over and over again.
BF Goodrich Essential day 1. Wet and muddy race
During the drivers briefing, Chris Bowler announced a wet race and on Saturday every driver's worst nightmare came true. An incessant rain wet the competition field all night and also during the day, turning it into a muddy pond.
For this first day of racing, 3 heats of 1 hour each were held for both the Ultra4s and the Winch Rallye Raids.
In 4400 Unlimited for all Saturday the fight for first place took place between three drivers: Jim Marsden, Daniel Roderick and Peter Jackson with Kieran Dunlop behind them to undermine the top three for the podium. In the third heat Mark Dean entered in the fight.
At the end of the day in the general ranking the first place is for Peter Jackson followed in second position by Jim Marsden and with Daniel Roderick third.
- Unlimited 4400 day 1 ranking
1° Peter Jackson / Giles Hirst , 15 laps in 03:14:13,86
2° Jim Marsden / James Ayre, 15 laps in 03:41:26,69
3° Dan Roderick / Dan Thomas, 14 laps in 03:09:55,17
4° Kieran Dunlop / Mick Sagar, 13 laps in 03:43:48,24
5° Mark Dean / Chris Roberts, 10 laps in 02:46:40,42
6° Dean Mason / Chris Mason, 2 laps in 01:30:43,80
7° Shabs Piercy / Si Sagar, 0 laps
In the Modified 4500 class the first is Luke Clayton, in the Stock 4600 is Andrew Brookes, in the Legends 4800 is Craig King and in the UTV 4900 is Philon Parpottas.
- Modified 4500 day 1 ranking
1° Luke Clayton / Andy Frost, 2 laps in 00:43:39,1
2° Ryan Dunn / Paul Dunn, 1 laps in 00:25:47,3
- Stock 4600 day 1 ranking
1° Andrew Brookes / Edd Cobley, 9 laps in 03:08:48,6
2° Ryan Beresford / Scott Beresford, 7 laps in 03:05:34,8
- Legends 4800 day 1 ranking
1° Craig King / Paddy, 11 laps in 03:36:52,4
2° Thomas Britten / Anthony Guerreiro, 3 laps in 01:42:33,0
3° Darren Brooks / James Pilbeam, 2 laps in 00:52:37,3
- UTV 4900 day 1 ranking
1° Philon Parpottas / Ryan Tomason, 9 laps in 02:12:38,7
2° Richard Hopkins / Zac Powell, 8 laps in 01:48:28,9
The undisputed protagonist of Saturday in the Winch Rallye Raid was Allen Sharp who, thanks to the Winch Zone bonuses, dominated the other drivers with Ryan Lawrence and Scott Haines chasing him closely.
- Winch Rallye Raid day 1 ranking
1° Allen Sharp / Alex Wilson, 15 laps
2° Ryan Lawrence / Anthony Waterfield, 13,5 laps
3° Scott Haines / James Watts, 13,25 laps
4° Tom Sharp / Tom Jolliffe, 11.5 laps
5° Robert Ward / Karl Auckland, 10 laps
6° Mike Kerr / Neil Allwright, 9 laps
7° Alex Danells-Mayes / Jess Danells-Mayes, 8,25 laps
8° Rob Curling / Paul Hitchman, 8 laps
9° James Whitton / David Needham, 7,5 laps
10° Jim Bubb / Michael Brown, 7,25 laps
11° Raymond Davidson / Rolland Scott, 7 laps
12° Chris Booth / Tom Booth, 6,75 laps
13° Leigh Jefferies / Louise Wadsworth, 6,5 laps
14° Simon Ward / Austin James, 4,75 laps
15° Dave Adams / Paul Curling, 3.5 laps
16° Kevin Bates / Joby Hooley, 3 laps
17° Zac Dambrauskas / Jack Watson, 2,5 laps
18° John Norton / Connor Billing, 1 lap
19° Sam Webster / Henry Essam, 1 lap
BF Goodrich Essential day 2. A sunny Sunday but still a wet race
On Sunday, an unexpected blue sky with bright sunshine, which enlivened the Kirton Off Road Center, welcomed all the teams. The competition program included two heats for each category: the first of 60 minutes and the second and last of 90 minutes.
In the first heat, after Jim Marsden's exit from the race due to the umpteenth break that forced him to retire, Daniel Roderick, Kieran Dunlop and Craig King found themselves fighting for the first position among the Unlimited categories. A successful task for Daniel Roderick.
Craig King is first in the 4800 Legends, Ryan Beresford wins the heat in the 4600 Stock, Luke Clayton the 4500 Modified and Philon Parpottas wins the 4900 UTV.
The fifth and final heat almost felt like an elimination race with only a few survivors making it to the finish line. In the 4400 Unlimited only three drivers reach the finish line. Dean Mason wins this last heat with Kieran Dunlop second and Daniel Roderick third.
Craig King completes 5 laps in 4800 Legends, Philon Parpottas in UTV manages to make 3 laps like Edd Cobley in 4600 Stock.
In the Winch Rallye Raid Allen Sharp continued to dominate everyone with the other drivers chasing him and completing the feat of finishing this tough and difficult race. Tom Sharp, Leigh Jefferies and Mike Kerr in both heats were Allen Sharp's closest rivals.
And the winners of the BF Goodrich Essential are...
After a wonderful weekend dedicated to doing what is essential for the Ultra4 Europe family and after a race that exceeded all expectations for how intense, hard and full of twists it was, it is time to give the well-deserved reward to all participants for their skill and determination and in particular it is time to find out who got on the podium.
In 4400 Unlimited Kieran Dunlop and Mick Sagar are the winners of the BF Goodrich Essential with Dan Roderick and Dan Thomas second and Jim Marsden with James Ayre third.
- Unlimited 4400 overall ranking
1° Kieran Dunlop / Mick Sagar, 23 laps in 06:35:07,22
2° Dan Roderick / Dan Thomas, 21 laps in 06:07:09,68
3° Jim Marsden / James Ayre, 18 laps in 04:18:42,05
4° Peter Jackson / Giles Hirst, 17 laps in 03:42:41,70
5° Mark Dean / Chris Roberts, 13 laps in 04:00:37,64
6° Dean Mason / Chris Mason, 9 laps in 03:48:01,88
7° Shabs Piercy / Si Sagar, 0 laps
Luke Clayton wins the Modified 4500, Andrew Brookes is first in the Stock 4600, Craig King wins in the 4800 Legends class and Philon Parpottas is first in the 4900 UTV category.
- Modified 4500 overall ranking
1° Luke Clayton / Andy Frost, 2 laps in 00:44:13,52
2° Ryan Dunn / Paul Dunn, 1 laps in 00:25:47,32
- Stock 4600 overall ranking
1° Andrew Brookes / Edd Cobley, 13 laps in 04:40:26,29
2° Ryan Beresford / Scott Beresford, 10 laps in 03:57:48,71
- Legends 4800 overall ranking
1° Craig King / Paddy, 20 laps in 06:23:38,30
2° Darren Brooks / James Pilbeam, 6 laps in 02:09:17,25
3° Thomas Britten / Anthony Guerreiro, 3 laps in 01:43:05,27
- UTV 4900 overall ranking
1° Philon Parpottas / Ryan Tomason, 14 laps in 03:58:29,56 -
2° Richard Hopkins / Zac Powell, 8 laps in 01:48:28,93
Allen Sharp and Alex Wilson literally dominated all the heats of the Winch Rallye Raid category and with honor they deserved the victory in their class. Ryan Lawrence and Anthony Waterfield are second. Scott Haines and James Watts are third.
- Winch Rallye Raid overall ranking
1° Allen Sharp / Alex Wilson, 28,2 laps
2° Ryan Lawrence / Anthony Waterfield, 25,5 laps
3° Scott Haines / James Watts, 24,5 laps
4° Tom Sharp / Tom Jolliffe, 22.2 laps
5° James Whitton / David Needham, 16 laps
6° Robert Ward / Karl Auckland, 15 laps
7° Mike Kerr / Neil Allwright, 15 laps
8° Rob Curling / Paul Hitchman, 13,2 laps
9° Jim Bubb / Michael Brown, 12,5 laps
10° Leigh Jefferies / Louise Wadsworth, 11,5 laps
11° Sam Webster / Henry Essam, 11,5 laps
12° Alex Danells-Mayes / Jess Danells-Mayes, 10,2 laps
13° Raymond Davidson / Rolland Scott, 7 laps
14° Chris Booth / Tom Booth, 6,75 laps
15° John Norton / Connor Billing, 6,75 laps
16° Simon Ward / Austin James, 5,75 laps
17° Dave Adams / Paul Curling, 3.5 laps
18° Kevin Bates / Joby Hooley, 3 laps
19° Zac Dambrauskas / Jack Watson, 2,5 laps