The Second edition of the Maxxis Tyres King of Italy took place over the weekend of the 19-21 June 2015, at Mount Capuccio, Varano De Melegari, Italy. A race greatly anticipated by both previous contestants and newcomers to the scene.
Pre running the course was amongst the new features for 2015, and at 1000hrs on Thursday, the course was released and the trails were opened for competitors to check out the faster and more hazardous areas of the vast Mount Capuccio reserve. Following feedback in 2014, competitors were also given the course asa gps file so they could showcase their individual driving talent.
At 1430hrs on Friday, the cars lined up to take on the 6km prologue course – A short sharp burst along some gnarly tracks, a quick zip around the King Shock zone and jump, then into some not so straight forward rocks, somewhat reminiscent of a line of the gatekeeper at Chocolate Thunder, and get the power down up to the finish.
A new feature instigated this year was the introduction of “The Magnificent Seven”. The seven top drivers as voted for by our competitors, these guys would run last after a short break so everyone could get out and watch the top guys get the power down. The Magnificent Seven were: Roberto Ciani (IT), Maxxis driver Levi Shirley (USA), Maxxis driver Jim Marsden (UK), Sylvain Bessiere (FR), Axel Burmann (BEL), Rob Butler (UK) and Nicolas Montador (FR). With 5/7 of the top drivers favouring our Maxxis Trepadors, The fastest prologue run was set by Roberto Ciani with a 9min 45second run, Levi Shirley 2nd and Jim Marsden 3rd.
2 race sessions ran on Saturday, 4 laps of a 15km course to count as one 60km lap in the morning and one in the afternoon, an accumulation of 120race km. In keeping with the mini KOH theme, Pier and his team had devised an additional 3.5km loop named Euro4x4Parts Canyon which must be done during one of the 4 laps. Drivers were told of its existence during the drivers briefing Saturday morning. As with Spooners in the USA it added an extra element of tactics in to the laps, do it first lap and run the risk of facing harder un-driven terrain or leave it last and pray you don’t run into traffic…….
Nicolas Montador was first into Euro4x4Parts Canyon on lap one and skilfully positioned his lightweight WSR racer around the obstacles, only needing a short winch to ride over some of the bigger rocks. All the while car after car elected to skip the loop until the next lap or the next. During Lap1 Axel Burmann shot out in front in his recently renovated Goat Bilt and come lap 4 was the first of a line of traffic into the gully, Burmann followed by Butler, Nusu, Bessiere, Marsden and Guimaraes. There followed an act of kindness rarely seen in such a high class of competition. Sylvain Bessier a legendary rock crawler from France was extremely unlucky to get hung up and bellied out on a huge rock in his path. Marsden from the UK and Filipe Guimaraes from Portugal both behind, saw the French man’s strife and set about releasing him from his predicament. Though neither Marsden nor Gerardo (Guimaraes co driver) could speak in the same tongue, their experience of extreme off-road competition shone through. Marsden double lining his winch back to the front of Bessiere, with Gerardo using the French man’s high lift jack to lift his axle case clear of the obstacle. Once cleared, the Euro4x4Parts Canyon was once again open and any thoughts back to Jackhammer of KOH2015 were quickly subdued.
The last day of racing, with one session planned to extend the race distance to over 180km’s. As with King of the Hammers, the tough course that Pier had set meant the attrition rate was high, overnight Marsden and Team Serrao dropped out, however Kamoy racing from Malta had fixed their bent axle case and were back out for another go. With the course a fair bit drier following the rain on Friday night, it was now much faster. Leo Moretti racing his Acerni Off-road prepared Jeep YJ had been plugging away at it all weekend came in victorious in the Legends class and walked away with free entry to 2016’s Croatia Trophy. In the Ultra4 class Axel Burmann started off 2nd but having replaced 2 Dana 60 R&P’s overnight, pulled up early with transfer case issues. Ciani Roberto, 2014’s runner up was plagued with mechanical issues and ended up the 3rd session with a DNF. Levi Shirley managed to drive Euro4x4Parts Canyon without winching, but it was his Off – Road Armoury stable mate, Eurofighter builder and recent Ultra4 Nationals Spec Class winner Rob Butler with West Coast Off-Roads Paul Lundstrom that shone throughout the weekend. Posting the quickest time for the 4 laps plus the Canyon in a very respectable 1hr56.09, Rob and Paul crossed the finish line for their first of Maxxis Ultra4 Europe title and was crowned the ‘King of Italy’.
A special mention must go to Neville Ciantar from Malta, a tiny country where off-roading is completely banned, to be able to build a car to compete with Europe’s finest and achieve a podium is awe inspiring.
Final top 3:
1st – Off Road Armoury – Rob Butler – UK – €1500– Prizes from 4Technique
2nd – Big Rocks F-Racing – Filipe Guimaraes – PORTUGAL – €1000– Prizes from 4Technique
3rd – Nusu Off Road – Neville Ciantar – MALTA – €500– Prizes from 4Technique