WALTERS ARENA, WALES, UK: More than 40 teams from nine countries competed last weekend in the 2nd annual King of The Valleys ULTRA4 race held at Walters Arena in Wales, UK. Going into the event, there was much speculation as to who would be declared this year’s King of The Valleys: Would it be a returning driver such as last year’s winner, Italian Pier Acerni, or perhaps a local racer familiar with the terrain such as UK’s Jim Marsden, or could it possibly be the American ULTRA4 driver on his first trip overseas, Levi Shirley? Ultimately, after three grueling days of competition that saw drivers navigating through winding technical rally roads normally reserved for WRC events, battling waste deep mud bogs and scaling extreme rock obstacles designed specifically for this event, it was the Italian driver, Pier Acerni, who retained his crown for another year.
The event began on Friday with a three mile prologue that served as both the first recorded stage of the event and also determined start order for Saturday’s complete 22 mile stage. After the prologue the top 3 drivers to start on Saturday were: American driver, Levi Shirley, in 1st with French driver, Nicolas Montador in 2nd followed by Swiss driver Stephane Zosso in 3rd. While Pier Acerni actually recorded the 2nd fastest time in the prologue, he received a time penalty for failure to stop at a check point that resulted in him starting Saturday’s stage 33rd.
Starting at the back of the pack did little to hold up Acerni as he was the 4th driver across the finish line on Saturday with a time more than eight minutes faster than Jim Marsden, followed by Stephane Zosso and Levi Shirley. Once Acerni took hold of the lead he never looked back. He left Zosso, Shirley and Marsden to battle it out for 2nd and 3rd over the course of the weekend’s stages. Ultimately, Pier Acerni would finish the entire event nearly 26 minutes ahead of Stephane Zosso in 2nd, followed by Levi Shirley in 3rd.
The top five teams hailed from five separate countries: Italy, Switzerland, US, UK and Malta respectively, proving this was truly an international ULTRA4 event. Dave Cole, Founder of ULTRA4 Racing was on-site for the event that was organized by UK promoter Neil Whitford with the help of UK’s All Wheel Drive Club (AWDC). Cole had this to say about the evolution of ULTRA4 Racing in Europe, “It is impressive to see the improvements made to these cars in just a year’s time. Just as ULTRA4 cars are constantly evolving in the US they are now doing the same in Europe. I look forward to seeing what both this year’s King of Portugal and next year’s King of The Valleys hold in store for ULTRA4 Racing in Europe.”
The next ULTRA4 Racing event in Europe is the King of Portugal which is scheduled to take place September 13th and 14th in in Trás-os-Monte, Portugal. More than 30 ULTRA4 teams are already registered for the inaugural event. The winners of both King of The Valleys and King of Portugal will be qualified and invited to compete in the 2014 Griffin King of The Hammers Presented by Nitto Tire on February 7th, 2014 in Johnson Valley, CA.