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UXC Heartland Challenge Race Report

Team UXC arrived in Iowa from all corners of the earth to again take on the Heartland Challenge weekend. The weekend consisted of 4 hour UTV, 10 hour ATV and 1.5 hour Ace races. With GNCC finishing later into the summer than usual, it meant many late summer nights in the workshops in order to put 11 machines on the start line ready to race. Despite the usual challenges, it was always a pleasure to turn up to one of Andy Kyner’s events. His team is welcoming and accommodating and we are happy to be able to support the event weekend.

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The 4 hour UTV race took place half in daylight and half in darkness. With most XC races being an hour, it was going to put pressure on the machines as well as driver and copilot. Rigid Industries epic LED lights would be critical to allow our drivers to keep it wide open throughout the night. New for this year were four RZR classes; 800, 900, 1000 and Open. The latter to allow for turbo cars. Both Team UXC drivers were riding in the Open class using Polaris RZR XP1000’s (non-turbo version). The race kicked off at 7pm, and within seconds it was clear how the next 4 hours would go: extremely dusty. Both Swift and Trantham got off the line well but dust played a big factor in visibility. However, it was a long race and remarkably no damage was done!

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Both drivers found the going challenging as it was extremely hard to stay on the tail of the driver in front without running the risk of missing a turn, driving down a ravine or running into them under braking. After 1 very dusty, sketchy lap, Trantham came around in 3rd with a comfortable gap to 4th and plenty of time to run down 2nd. Swift was not so lucky and came round in 10th, but his race experience and fitness showed a coolness and determination to finish on the podium. While Trantham was catching and passing 2nd to catch the leader, Swift was making passes to reach the podium. Trantham found himself trading places with the leader throughout the race. He said that despite the dust, the car was handling superbly with the STM Powersports/Airdam-Tuned power going down perfectly. The Challenge section was brutal, but the RZR’s RT Pro cage, nerfs and bumpers soaked it up and our drivers loved being pushed.

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The dust never settled and once night fell, the issue of visibility became worse. Our Rigid Industries lights were amazing. Normally the roof mounted light bar would be sufficient to light up an entire field, but the conditions were unusual and the Rigid Dually Midnight Edition surface mount spots worked just like fog lights. So Swift and Trantham drove just as fast in the dark as they did in the daylight! The pit stops went well and Swift was up to 5th. Shortly after the stops Trantham’s belt went while racing wide open along the pit straightaway. Thankfully, he wasn’t too far from the UXC pits at the time and the pit crew was able to get him back out. Swift was not so lucky and suffered a race-ending mechanical issue with less than an hour to go. He was frustrated to not finish after all of the hard work, but glad that Trantham was still in the fight for a podium position. Both drivers said the track flowed fast and held up well. The only real issue was the dust and it made for an extremely grueling 4 hours with the throttle pinned most of the lap. As the checkered flag dropped after 4 hours, Kevin Trantham and his copilot, Nic Snycker’s, crossed the line in 3rd as highest placed Polaris. It was a well-fought race that put a Team UXC/Factory Polaris Team RZR on the box. On the podium, Trantham thanked SSI Decals for making all the team’s machines look on point as well as Evans Powersports for keeping the machine nice and cool in the Iowa humidity.

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Trantham wasn’t the only driver to put a Team UXC machine on the podium that day. Earlier in the day, Becky Widdicombe lined the Polaris Ace 900 XC up for a 1.5 hour race – 3 times longer than a normal GNCC event. Having walked the track, she knew it looked fast. The team had spent a lot of time working on the machine to dial it in to how she liked to drive. The new RT Pro cage and nerfs would mean making tight turns around trees would be less of a worry. Making 2nd into the first corner, she held her line around the start field and tucked in behind first. It was clear going in to the first wood section that staying on the leader’s tail was going to be difficult due to zero visibility. Rather than risk a race-ending crash, she settled in and drove her own race. Throughout the early laps she would check to see where the 3rd driver was and felt comfortable her pace was giving her a buffer. It would stay like this for the rest of the race as 1st and 2nd continued to lap the rest of the field. Widdicombe would cross the line in 2nd a few minutes behind 1st. She said it was the hardest and fastest she’d ever driven the 900XC, but was smiling throughout as the car felt so good. The car looked planted as it was coming down the pit straightway wide open and drifting before anchoring up hard with her DP Brakes to make the rock section before timing.

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Not done with UTV success, Swift and Trantham went on to take the Pro 4x4 ATV 10 hour win the following day after 4 hours in the RZR’s and making it 3 years in a row. Some achievement!! Our other riders also put on an excellent show. Graham Widdicombe finished 2nd in Ironman. Also racing Ironman, Nic Snycker’s finished in 13th after some issues with his twist throttle and #TeamUXCGuestRacer Kev Jones finished 6th. Josh Day partnered with Jeff Wright again and put their machine on the box 3rd in the 30+ class.

The team will be back racing ATVs and RZRs when the GNCC season recommences in September.

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Photo Credits: ATVRiders.com

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