By: Chris Blais & Jeremy Gray, UTV Pro Turbo, 2nd Overall
Round 3 of the DP4 UTV Racing Series would be the second night race in the series out near Soggy Dry Lake in Johnson Valley, CA. I love racing the night races with our awesome Baja Designs lights. I run a Dual XL80 Amber setup on the front bumper along with an Onyx Laser/ Hybrid light on the shock tower. We put a lot of testing in before this event to get the car dialed in. We made some weight changes to our KWI clutching setup to keep our Gboost belt temps down during these hot summer races.
Tom Morris at UTV Shocks made some changes again to our suspension that we were testing, and our car was working amazing! Our new Whalen Speed custom tune we were testing out, combined with our 32” Kenda Mastodon tires and KMC 15” wheels, our car is on another level.
We put in a solid first lap, making a couple of passes in the thick dust just before dark. At the beginning of the second lap, I started to have misfire issues and limp mode. This was beyond frustrating as we were on a solid run. We still ran a decent pace but nowhere close to running race pace as the problem kept getting worse and acting up intermittently. We made some long pit stops to check out the car and see if we could figure out the issue. After that, we just decided to keep up a good pace and see where we end up.
After Lap 2, the breeze stopped and the dust was lingering in the valleys. Trying to pass lappers was tough. We couldn’t see much beyond the hood of the car, thinking we were catching another car, then out in the distance you could see the other car still a good half mile in front of us still. Some deep ruts started to build up along with some very deep chop. It was like riding in a slot car without being able to see the track most of the way. We had a little clear air on the last two laps, as cars were spreading out and breaking down on the course.
At the finish, there were a couple cars physically ahead of us but we ended up second Overall on time. I was surprised even with all the issues we had. This second Place keeps us in the Overall points lead for the series. After the race, we plugged the car into the computer to see what was going on and reset all the codes. We actually went out for another lap on the race course to try and diagnose the issue. It kept doing it and was driving me crazy. When we got home we swapped the plugs first and went out driving again. After that we did the belt and fuel pump and still the same issue. Then we pulled the batteries and tested them. One battery was a bit off and when I tapped it on the ground with the meter plugged in it, it was dropping voltage. We replaced the battery and everything was working like it was supposed to. Many things affect these cars with all these electronics but I was glad we were able to narrow it down one item at a time. Next time I will be sure to check the batteries first if I have an issue.
Thanks to all of our awesome sponsors, family and crew for all the support you give us. This would not be possible without all the hard work of my guys in the shop and our family and sponsors!