#918 JUSTIN LAMBERT - 2017 BITD Parker 250

After sweeping the 2016 BITD season in the UTV Pro 1000 class, with 4 of those being overall wins, we were not about to let ego overcome us. We built a new RZR XPTurbo desert race car in December and headed to Parker with literally zero test time and no expectations of setting the course on fire. This race was to be a learning experience in the turbo class and we expected issues and were hoping for a top ten finish. The race wasn’t to start until 1 pm on Saturday, so that morning we were getting as much testing as possible done and were having issues keeping belt temps at bay, but with a lack of parts to do much clutch tuning, we figured out that we were going to have to just run a conservative pace and stay out of people's way, while we learned the ins and outs of this new race car.

 

 

We had a front row start next to Branden Sims, we debated on just sitting at the start for a few seconds and letting Brandon go, but decided to make it a race for the first few hundred yards, we took the holeshot and came out of the chicane ahead of Brandon and once we crested the first hill and no one could see, we backed off the pace and let Brandon by and he was out of sight within just a couple minutes. Dropping down into the sand wash, co-driver Mitchell had his eye on the gauges and we just had to run about 60% to keep the drive belt together. About 20 miles in there is a small sort of channel you have to race thru for about a mile and it was like a mud bog from the recent rain.

Mitchell and I went ahead and stopped in the alternate pit which is 28 miles into the 75-mile loop, we spent a good amount of time there, had a rear shock that was leaking so we went ahead and changed it out as a couple dozen competitors passed us in the pits. Getting back out of course we were gaining some positions back but also could only safely reach a top speed of 70 miles an hour on the fire roads while watching temps. There is another wash section where we caught a green turbo Arctic Cat that would not move over for us period, we went in for a tap on his rear bumper and low and behold there was no rear bumper as we smashed in his fiberglass body panel bumper thing. He still wouldn’t move and made us eat his rocks for another 5 miles, when we finally went in for a harder hit he must have seen that we meant business as he finally let us around after the river run section. Right in front of him and now in front of us was an NA class car that when we pulled up close to his rear bumper, the co-driver gave us a wave so we backed off a couple feet, and they never moved over to let us pass. We both blasted thru some huge mud puddles and then into another mud bog, and we rode his rear bumper for a couple miles before he finally let us by as we were beating on his rear bumper. We may not be in this race for a podium but by no means does that mean we want to follow someone around the desert, when other racers don’t move over it is very frustrating and makes for a very dangerous situation.

 

 

Making our way past the main pit, we started lap 2 of 3. In the sand wash our belt was slipping and we decided to pull over and change it at around RM20 rather than risk shredding it and costing us a lot of time. We fueled up and grabbed another spare belt in the alternate pit and finished our second loop stopping at the main pit for a precautionary belt change. At this point we wanted to see what we could get away with, so we started to let it rip and the gauge showed belt temps rising but we were going to run it till it broke. We caught a couple X3s in the sand wash and the first one let us by but the leader of those 2 decided to jack rabbit on us so we put some pressure on until he finally moved over, then he decided to chase us around and our belt started slipping again so we let him go and backed off a bit ourselves and a mile later the belt let go. That was a 20-minute belt change since shreds of it were tangled in the clutches and we had to pull those off the car to get them cleaned out. I was more upset about that green Arctic Cat getting passed us during that repair before we were able to get back on the road.

 

 

We took another spare belt at the alternate pit on this last lap, just in case. 44 miles into that last lap we broke a right rear axle, found a good spot to pull over and jumped out to get to work. Come to find out that our brand new jack was faulty; apparently, a roll pin was left out at the manufacturer! We had previously only tested it once and something didn’t feel quite right but we didn’t really think twice about it at the time. So that was an interesting axle change but we got it done in about 35 minutes. After that, we made our way to the finish line in the dark. We did not get that top ten finish, but we did get a finish and learned a whole lot about the new car doing it. Onward and upward we are testing and preparing for the next race, the Mint 400.