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Derek West Overcomes Adversity at 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway

Derek West 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway

Derek West in #4420, backed by AIRAID, overcame mechanical challenges to finish 12th in a field of 58 at the 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway, June 10-11.

As the third event of the 2016 Ultra4 National Championship series and the Trail-Gear Western Regionals' last visit to Southern California for the year, the 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway June 10-11 drew more than 100 competitors, with a whopping 58 qualifiers in the 4400 class.

4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway

The Grand Prix format at Glen Helen combines three different off-road tracks: short course, motocross, and enduro. Competitors run their own race under timing. Drivers are sent out in pairs at 5-second intervals.

This is one stop on the road to earning an invitation to the 2017 King of the Hammers competition, as well as accumulate points toward the Nitto National Championship.

The grand prix format at Glen Helen combines short course, motocross, and enduro tracks and each competitor runs their own race under timing. Drivers are sent out in pairs at 5-second intervals. The winner is the driver who completes the most laps in that class' time frame. Practice and qualifying were colorful as racers learned the grooves of Glen Helen, making it through wet patches and drifting some corners.

AIRAID driver Derek West, of Springfield, Missouri, in car #4420, winner of the 2014 Ultra4 Eastern Championship and class winner at the Badlands Off Road Park event in 2015, had a tough weekend mechanically, but came up smiling at the end.

Derek West and co-driver Nick Cooper 4 Wheel Parts Grand Prix at Glen Helen Raceway

West and co-driver Nick Cooper drove a smooth race, passing 11 cars to make it into fourth place by lap 15 of the 20-lap race.

After not being able to make the best qualifying lap on Friday evening he had to start in 21st place in the second prelim on Saturday. Knowing the top 18 transferred to the main the plan was to just make a solid six laps not taking any unnecessary risks. West passed 13 cars in six laps, securing a 15th starting position for the main.

Starting the main in the 8th row, West and co-driver Nick Cooper were extremely steady through the first six laps, turning laps times within seconds of the leaders and successfully negotiating traffic. However, in lap seven, something in the front end let go and a radio discussion of the need for a pit stop ensued. Their lap times faltered minimally, so they circulated for nine more laps in two-wheel drive and made it into fourth place by lap 15 of the 20-lap race.

Dereck West WORRA 250 at Fallon, Nevada

After battling from 15th to 4th, a failure induced pit stop to repair the rear master cylinder actuator rod, caused #4420 to lose precious time and left him in 12th at the end of the race.

Then the rear master cylinder actuator rod decided it didn't like being a part of this awesome performance any longer. It's supposed to be straight but instead it worked itself into a z-shape and bound against the firewall. The crew managed to bend the rod somewhat straight again, and sent them on their way.

With only five laps left in the race when they pitted, there wasn't much time to make up the two laps lost in the pit. At the finish, the car that was behind West before the failure ended up on top of the podium and West crossed the line in 12th place. He will be repaired and back at it less than two weeks in the Ultra4s at the Badlands.

The next stops for most Ultra4 competitors are the second and third 4WD Hardware Eastern Regional Series events, June 24-25 at Badlands Off Road Park in Attica, Indiana, followed by Sturgis on July 29-30. The Trail-Gear Western Regional Series concludes September 2-3 with the WORRA 250 at Fallon, Nevada.


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