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Wes Miller on Mint 400 withdrawal: “I was sitting on the starting line and then I was told to pack up and go home”

Wes Miller arrived in Las Vegas set to run the Mint 400. He left confused and without turning a lap.

Miller was supposed to compete in the Limited race on Friday, racing a Polaris RZR Pro R in the UTV Pro Stock category until the race’s sanctioning body Unlimited Off-Road Racing ruled his car did not comply with class regulations. Although Miller attempted to make contact with officials including series boss Matt Martelli, he explained he never received a proper answer for whether it was actually legal or not.

As the name suggests, the UTV Pro Stock class is intended for UTVs that are mostly to fully in their factory setting save for obvious safety modifications. After concerns were raised that some competitors had non-compliant cars at the series’ season-opening Parker 400 in January, Miller joined a conference call with race director Kilian Hamlin to properly outline the rules so they could be enforced at the Mint. During the discussion, Miller disclosed his car had a steering brace from SANDCRAFT installed, which keeps the steering rack stable and easier to control. While the steering rack must be stock, he noted there was “little bit of a grey area” since some changes could still be made to strengthen the suspension like adding material to the gussets.

“I’ve been running it for quite a few races now and had it on for two or three of the races already, and it was never an issue, so I was under the impression we determined that it was legal,” Miller said in a video released Saturday to explain the situation. “As well as another competitor that was on the call, that was his opinion. I think Killian doesn’t really remember, but you know, he’s got a lot of stuff he’s dealing with.”

Once at the Mint, Miller noticed that many of the stock entries did not appear to be legal and expected “some protest disqualifications” to come. True to his suspicion, four cars ended up being disqualified from the race for illegal exhausts, among other components. Miller approached tech director Bill Savage for a personal inspection of his Polaris, who ruled that the aforementioned steering rack as well as the hood scoop were not allowed. While he complied and swapped out the scoop duct for a stock part, the steering rack ruling contradicted the previous discussion.

Preston Campbell, Ricky Brabec crush Mint 400 Motorcycle Race

Ricky Brabec had a heck of a Mint 400 weekend as he got to win on both four and two wheels. After winning his UTV class in the Limited race on Friday, he teamed up with Preston Campbell to dominate the Motorcycle Race on Saturday.

Racing a Honda for JCR Honda, the duo crushed the race with a nineteen-minute advantage over runner-ups Danny Cooper, Chance Fullterton, and Connor Eddy. The trio of Jesse Canepa, Ryan Marshall, and Clayton Roberts were forty-eight-and-a-half minutes behind the #P03.

Campbell, the son of Baja 1000 legend Johnny Campbell, adds a second straight Unlimited Off-Road Racing Series win after claiming the inaugural California 300 bike race last October.

“I got off to a pretty good start,” said Campbell. “Me and Chance battled a little bit but I was able to get in the lead pretty early. I didn’t have to fight the dust but just fighting the shadows and the cold, cold air but it wasn’t too bad.”

The win was Brabec’s second in the Motorcycle Race after claiming the 2019 edition with Kendall Norman. Brabec, also the defending Dakar Rally champion, took over the bike from Campbell for the second half of the six-lap event.

Adam Householder enjoys “flawless day” to win Mint 400 Unlimited

The Mint 400 is one of the toughest off-road races in America, but Adam Householder was more than up for the challenge. In fact, as many of his rivals dropped out or suffered mechanical issues, Householder’s Unlimited Truck was perfect from start to finish.

After chasing down Ryan Arciero for the first of four laps, he took the lead and never had to look back particularly close. Although Arciero and Christian Sourapas provided the biggest challenges, both were hit by truck problems on the final lap that enabled Householder to pull away. Kyle Jergensen, the 2022 Mint 400 winner, inherited second after Arciero was knocked out by a broken driveline and finished almost eleven minutes back.

The reigning Unlimited Off-Road Racing Series champion, Householder began his title defence on a strong note when he finished won the Unlimited overall at the Parker 400 in January. Now two-for-two in the 2024 season, he can complete the clean sweep by taking the California 300 in October.

“We had a flawless day. No issues, nothing. Never had to get out, had a fantastic day,” said Householder. “We just ran with everyone at the beginning to kind of see what their pace was doing and set it from there. Everyone just kept dropping out like flies and we just proceeded to go to the front.

“It’s not easy out there. By the time you get to the last lap, it is brutal. You’re hitting kerbs, I just tried to keep the truck alive and that’s what we did. There’s a lot of rocks out there, and so he was on it, Trevor (Ellingham) did an incredible job all day telling me what to do, where to go, and we made it happen.”

Sara Price on Dakar: “You have 14 days of racing, and they say it’s equivalent to a Baja 500 every single day”

After a decade of work, Sara Price finally got to race at the Dakar Rally for the first time in January. Even as a rookie, she quickly impressed when she won a stage and just barely missed the overall podium in the SSV category.

On Saturday, Price was invited into the booth for the Mint 400, another prestigious off-road race, to speak about her Dakar experience. She had entered the Mint’s Limited race the day before, where she and Cameron Steele finished twelfth in the UTV Pro category. Many American Dakar competitors including Mitch Guthrie, Skyler Howes, and Price’s boyfriend and 2024 Dakar bike winner Ricky Brabec also ran the Limited event.

Although the Dakar also takes place in a desert, rally raids are a different beast from traditional desert races like the Mint and SCORE International, the latter of which Price won the Trophy Truck Spec championship in 2019.

“Dakar is something I really can’t even describe. It’s just a whole ‘nother animal,” Price recalled. “You’re over there in Saudi Arabia, it’s different country, different terrain, different rules; FIA is a very technical association we’re racing with. To get there is really expensive and not easy. It takes a lot of work because we’re racing in a different way than we do here in America. We’re using a roadbook, we’re using cars that have all these restrictions on them, and it’s just a different game but it’s a dream come true for me.”

Price earned her ticket to the Dakar Rally by winning the National Car/UTV class at the 2023 Sonora Rally, a round of the World Rally-Raid Championship and leg on the Road to Dakar programme; the Road to Dakar rewards racers who have no prior Dakar experience with free registration for the event. As a final dress rehearsal, she entered the 2023 W2RC’s season-ending Rallye du Maroc and quickly impressed as she won two stages and finished second in the SSV category to Can-Am team-mate João Ferreira.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Verstappen Dominates to win Again as Bearman Stars on Debut

Max Verstappen continued his dominant start to the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with a sublime drive to victory in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday, while Scuderia Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman finished an excellent seventh.

Oracle Red Bull Racing finished first and second for a second consecutive weekend as Sergio Perez took runners-up spot behind Verstappen despite the Mexican being given a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release during his pit stop.

Verstappen held onto the lead at the start from pole position from fellow front row starter Charles Leclerc, and apart from a handful of laps following an early safety car, the Dutchman was untouchable at the front of the field as he took a ninth consecutive Grand Prix victory.  It was, however, the first time he has won both the opening two races of a season.

The first retirement of the season came at the end of lap one, with Pierre Gasly continuing the BWT Alpine F1 Team’s difficult start to the campaign with a trip to the pits. He complained on the way to the grid of a potential gearbox issue, but after taking the start, his team called him into the pits to retire.

Lando Norris appeared to move on the grid prior to the lights going out, but no penalty was forthcoming, with stewards clearing him of a jump start, perhaps down to the fact he stopped again and was slightly bogged down getting away.

Ronnie Anderson scores maiden desert win in Mint 400 Limited

Ronnie Anderson knows how to win in short course. He can now say he knows how to win in the open desert, and what better place to earn his first desert overall victory at than the legendary Mint 400?

Anderson, racing a Polaris in the UTV Pro Open class, won the Mint’s Limited race on Friday after a frantic late run in which he had to pass numerous lapped cars and chase down classmate Ryan Piplic. Piplic was one of the favourites alongside World Rally-Raid Championship star Mitch Guthrie and 2023 winner Joe Terrana, only to suffer a flat tyre on the final lap. Despite losing a power steering belt as he pulled into pit, Anderson took advantage of Piplic’s issue to set the fastest time.

“It feels amazing, that’s my first desert overall win right there,” said Anderson. “Pretty happy to be able to do it here at the Mint 400. Legendary race and a really, really, really tough one that a lot of people like to win. Super, super excited. So proud of my whole team, they worked their butts off for moments like this. Wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

“We come from a short course background and usually we’re sprinters through and through, but learn pretty quickly here that desert racing is more about the marathon than the sprint. It’s brutal; it actually wasn’t too bad lap one, but over the hundreds of cars going lap after lap after lap, by lap four it was absolutely brutal. There wasn’t a section on the course that wasn’t beat up, wasn’t whooped out, so attrition was definitely a big factor there. That’s where we got a lot of our track position there on lap four, a lot of people fell out there lap three and four, so we just played it smooth, consistent, conservative, and it paid off today.”

Prior to his puncture, Piplic had been leading Anderson by roughly twenty seconds and the Class 10 of Tyler Mills in the overall. Mills was the first car to reach the finish, though Anderson beat him by a minute. Abraham Gutierrez arrived shortly after Mills, coming up four minutes short.

From Prepping for Formula 2 to Qualifying in Formula 1 – Oliver Bearman’s Friday in Saudi Arabia

Oliver Bearman woke up on Friday morning expecting to race in the FIA Formula 2 championship with Prema Racing, but come the end of the day, he had completed his first Qualifying session in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship having been a last minute replacement for an unwell Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz withdrew from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after being diagnosed with appendicitis that required surgery, leaving a vacancy at Scuderia Ferrari, and it was reserve driver Bearman who was called upon to become the first debutant to race for the Maranello-based team since Arturo Merzario and the youngest ever British driver in Formula 1.

Bearman’s pole position in Formula 2, achieved on Thursday evening at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, was chalked off as no driver is allowed to race in both Formula 1 and Formula 2 on the same weekend, but for the eighteen-year-old, a debut in the top level of single seater motorsport is likely to be more important, at least for this weekend.

And after getting his first taste of the 2024 Ferrari on Friday morning during final practice, Bearman experienced his first Qualifying session under the floodlights later in the day, and he was painfully just outside the top ten, missing out on a Q3 appearance by just 0.036 seconds to seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur revealed that he only told Bearman that he would be making his debut mere hours before the start of Friday’s practice session, but he was impressed by the job the young Briton was able to do with very limited time behind the wheel.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – What the Drivers Said after Qualifying – Part 2

The second Qualifying session of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is in the books, and for the second consecutive weekend, it was Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing who dominated the session to take pole position, the thirty-fourth of his illustrious career.

Charles Leclerc will join him on the front row, while Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso will line-up on row two.  All eyes, of course, were on Oliver Bearman, a late replacement for the ailing Carlos Sainz Jr. at Scuderia Ferrari, and the young Briton put in a superb performance with very limited running to place just outside the top ten.

Read what the bottom half of the field after Qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit had to say ahead of Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

#38 – Oliver Bearman – Scuderia Ferrari

“It’s been a great day but it could have been even better. It wasn’t the ideal way of making my F1 debut and of course I send all my best wishes to Carlos for a speedy recovery. But it’s a great opportunity nevertheless.

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – What the Drivers Said after Qualifying – Part 1

The second Qualifying session of the 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is in the books, and for the second consecutive weekend, it was Max Verstappen and Oracle Red Bull Racing who dominated the session to take pole position, the thirty-fourth of his illustrious career.

Charles Leclerc will join him on the front row, while Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso will line-up on row two.  All eyes, of course, were on Oliver Bearman, a late replacement for the ailing Carlos Sainz Jr. at Scuderia Ferrari, and the young Briton put in a superb performance with very limited running to place just outside the top ten.

Read what the top ten in Qualifying at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit had to say after Qualifying and ahead of Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

#1 – Max Verstappen – Oracle Red Bull Racing

“I enjoyed the day a lot. The car was really nice to drive and it was a good improvement from yesterday. We improved the car a little bit overnight and came out with a great set up which allowed me to attack the high speed corners and improve the one lap performance.

Alcan 5000 Rally returns with frozen fervour in fortieth anniversary

The Alcan 5000 Rally, which takes place every other year (typically those ending in an even number), elebrated its forty-year anniversary in late February with a two-week adventure from Seattle to Anchorage.

The journey brought the thirty-six-car field through weather conditions where even the chilliest adjectives would be insufficient to describe. Temperatures ran well into the negatives, bottoming out at –32 degrees Fahrenheit (–35.56° C) as competitors made their way through Canada and Alaska. After crossing the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the climate’s unfriendliness increased upon entering the Northwest and Yukon Territories, inching closer towards the Arctic north.

Upon crossing into Alaska, the rally went through the subarctic city of Fairbanks before heading even further north. This took the grid to Coldfoot, a town of just thirty-four people (as of the 2020 United States census) and part of the Yukon–Koyukuk Census Area, which straddles the Arctic Circle.

By the end, in the Alaskan capital of Anchorage, drivers had travelled five thousand miles.

Credit: Alcan 5000 Rally

Unlike traditional cross-country rallies, the Alcan 5000 Rally is a regularity rally in which navigation skills and maintaining a certain speed are favoured over simply being the fastest. Such a format is also used at the Dakar Rally’s adjacent Dakar Classic and the Rebelle Rally, the latter also taking place in North America. Much like in golf, the regularity rally competitor with the lowest score wins and points are racked up for mistakes made while going through the route, such as not meeting or exceeding the baseline speed.

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Verstappen Takes Pole in Jeddah

Max Verstappen secured his first pole position in Jeddah ahead of Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez. The hour of qualifying was action packed, but the story of the session was Ollie Bearman coming extremely close to a Q3 appearance on his Formula 1 debut.

Catch up on the action from all three sessions below!

Q1 – Double Alpine Exit

Q1 saw plenty of action, with a number of different run plans throughout. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team drivers raised a few eyebrows, starting on mediums but Lewis Hamilton and George Russell managed to get through thanks to a soft tyre run a few minutes.

Engineers were working hard to get Zhou Guanyu out on track after his crash during Free Practice Three. Despite great work from the team, the Chinese driver didn’t have enough time to get out, leaving him with no lap time and a place at the back of the grid. 

Sebastien Bourdais: “We played the long game”

Cadillac Racing are taking a lot of positives from their result in the season opener of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The American team were the “best of the rest” after finishing fourth behind an all-Porsche podium at the Qatar 1812km. Drivers Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber and Sebastien Bourdais all put in stellar efforts to bring home a good result at the Lusail International Circuit.

The Cadillac V-Series.R held its own in a very competitive Hypercar field at the start of the new golden era of endurance racing. Contact at the first corner initially knocked the Cadillac out of contention. While difficult to see exactly what happened, the car squirmed under braking due to getting pinched into an ever-decreasing gap, causing the Cadillac to tag the back of the #94 Peugeot TotalEnergies car.

The dark blue Cadillac in the middle of the pack on the run down to the chaotic first corner. Credit: Ferrari Media Centre

However, the 1812 kilometre race had almost ten hours left to run. The Cadillac pitted for a new nose on lap 33. Once back out on track, Lynn was matching the pace of the lead pack, showing just how competitive the car can be. Bourdais’s first stint from lap 67 was arguably most impressive, thundering his way through the pack up to tenth position.

Throughout the rest of the race, the team performed consistently well, with Bamber taking the car up into the top five. Bourdais took back over on lap 269 and brought the car home in fourth place after the #93 Peugeot ran out of fuel on the penultimate lap.

Alex Lynn, who was in the car for the opening lap incident, said “We knew we had good pace in the car this weekend. Considering first race of the year and the way the race started, I think we’ll definitely take the result.”

2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Verstappen Tops Final Practice

Max Verstappen topped the final session of free practice in Jeddah ahead of Friday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix qualifying. The Dutchman finished just under two tenths ahead of Charles Leclerc and his Oracle Red Bull Racing teammate, Sergio Pérez.

George Russell found himself top of the timesheets after twenty minutes of the session. Both Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team drivers opted to put in some laps early on, despite a lack of action on track.

The first third of the session saw laps from just eight drivers. Russell led Leclerc and his teammate, with Oliver Bearman in fourth getting some crucial laps in ahead of his F1 debut. Both Stake F1 Team and Visa Cash App RB drivers also got onto track early.

Thing started to ramp up with forty minutes to go – Sergio Pérez’s first timed attempt put him at the top of the timesheets. Verstappen put his RB20 behind his teammate just a few minutes later.

Leclerc was the next to go quickest on the medium tyre, beating the time both Red Bull’s set on the soft compound. Verstappen’s next qualifying simulation run put him top of the pile, a few tenths above Leclerc. 

Kevin Estre: “It wasn’t nearly as easy as it might have looked from the outside”

Kevin Estre has revealed that the dominant victory at the Qatar 1812km was not as straightforward as spectators might assume.

The Porsche Penske Motorsport #6 Porsche 963 put on a dominant display at the opening round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), winning by the 10 hour race by over 30 seconds, and leading an all-Porsche podium. However, as the drivers reveal, victory wasn’t assured until the chequered flag fell.

The triumphant #6 driver line-up of (L-R) Laurens Vanthoor, André Lotterer, and Kevin Estre. Credit: Porsche AG

On lap 290 out of 335, there was contact between the leading #6 car and one of the Akkodis ASP Team Lexus RCF LMGT3 cars, spearing the Lexus off into the gravel and damaging the side of the #6 Porsche. According to WEC rules, the car’s number must be visible on each side of the car. So, with just a few laps to go, Estre was told to pit by his team and a new #6 sticker was hastily stuck on the side of the car. A makeshift repair, perhaps, but it did the job and ensured Porsche could claim their maiden Hypercar victory.

“I’m incredibly proud that we all achieved this together” Estre said after the race. “It wasn’t nearly as easy as it might have looked from the outside – definitely not! We encountered many tricky situations and we also had some contact with other cars. Two hours before the flag, a collision caused significant damage. But even with a less-than-ideal car, we did it.“

The extraordinary sight of a Porsche podium lockout. Credit: Porsche AG

The other drivers of the #6 car were thrilled by the victory. André Lotterer explained “This triumph is thanks to every single person in the team. Everyone worked incredibly hard and improved so many things for the new season. It works perfectly. We also experienced some nail-biting moments in the race but we kept our cool and brought home the win.” He also added, in a great understatement, “we’d be happy to continue like this!“

2024 BP Ultimate Rally-Raid Portugal: 1,758 kilometres from Portugal to Spain and back

The inaugural BP Ultimate Rally-Raid Portugal will be the third round of the 2024 World Rally-Raid Championship, brining the series back to the Iberian peninsula. As the name indicates, all but one of the five stages as well as the Prologue will take place in Portugal while the country’s Automóvel Club de Portugal serves as the race organiser.

The town of Grândola, in southwest Portugal’s Setúbal District, serves as the race’s bivouac and main hub, meaning all of the Portuguese legs will start and end there. The rally’s Prologue and Stage #1 will both take place on 3 April; Stage #1 will be split into two Selective Sections, similar to what is done in the FIA Baja Cups in contrast to the W2RC’s daily format, with the first ending in nearby Santiago do Cacém before the second takes the field back.

“It is a challenge for Grândola, but a very important event for the local economy due to the drivers and teams that will visit us, as well as a way to promote our municipality,” commented Carina Batista, the vice president of Grândola’s Municipal Council.

For Stage #3, the rally crosses the entire width of Portugal and goes through border into Spain before stopping in Badajoz. The city is located in Extremadura, an autonomous community in western Spain that currently hosts the FIA European Baja Cup’s season-opening Baja TT Dehesa Extremadura. The race returns to Grândola the following day.

In total, the timed Selective Sections will cover roughly 1,008 kilometres with the remaining 750 being liaison sections.