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D2R arrived on the lakebed early in the week with the brand new Jimmy’s 4441 car in tow, named Hank – so new not only did it have the new car smell, but the only drive time included an engine dyno session that took place just days prior in Colorado.
After a couple days of making some final tweaks on the car and time for some initial shock tuning, the car was ready to qualify. Darren would qualify first during Power Hour (televised qualifying for top 20 national drivers) on Wednesday at 4pm CST, and started off the line with less than 15 miles driven on the new car. The team would start 26th in the main event of 140 total in the lineup.
Race day came, and besides the ultimate ending being a DNF, the race couldn’t have went better. After starting 26th, in three laps the car moved from 26th to “unofficial” 8th before we were out. At one point with corrected time, the team was in 5th place just after the start of lap 3.
During the race, the only stops the car made were for fuel. The new car, Hank, is a monster and the new engine is much faster than anything we have had prior. This car is bigger and heavier than the previous, and handles much better. At top speeds of 117mph on the dry lakebed, we experienced no vibrations and in the rock sections, the visibility and clearance is astonishing. With not one tire change, the pit stop we did have was just to fill the massive fuel cell, do a visual check, and we were on our way. The Achilles’s heal at KOH was a front end issue, something that is currently being addressed in Cortez, and, with slight modification, should make it solid for the rest of the season.
We completed 168 miles of the race on a car that has now has 212 miles total on it – meaning only 44 non race miles. Hank is currently at Jimmy’s 4×4 in Cortez under the knife, and next will go to Las Vegas for additional shock tuning and get Darren more time behind the wheel. Given the car and his performance at the hardest off-road race in the United States, we are pretty excited to see what will happen the rest of the season once the car is fully dialed in and Darren a bit more seat time.
For KOH, our sponsors benefitted from the buzz around the new car and how well Darren did – not only with our almost 10,000 followers but also the media and spectators on hand. Another benefit sponsors received is that we had both cars in a qualifying, Power Hour, and the main event. Originally the team brought “Lisa,” the car everyone is familiar with, fully race prepped and ready to race in the event unforeseen issues came up with the brand new car.
In a crazy, unbelievable twist of events, a teammate for Jimmy’s 4×4, a competitor, and a friend of D2R had his car burn down pre-running, leaving it a complete and total loss. On top of the devastating event, we learned it was even on his birthday. Very, very long story short, the team decided to loan him “Lisa” to race during qualifying and the main event in an act of true sportsmanship and compassion. Although the car did sport a for sale sign on the body panels, it did give additional exposure for all of our sponsors – sort of a two for one deal for this year’s KOH. The media conducted a ton of interviews and we believe it will be one of the stories they feature in the upcoming TV series on NBC Sports.
Two of the three cameras worked on the car, so if anyone is interested in on board footage please let us know and we would be happy to send it your way. We also have many great pictures coming in from The Redline Projects as well as other photographers and would be happy to share those as well.
The next race is April 8th in Sierra Blanca, TX – just outside of El Paso. This race will be a 212 mile desert race and the team is really looking forward to getting Hank back out, putting a winning strategy together, and following through with a win. As mentioned before, with a heavier platform, top notch handling, power, massive fuel storage, sponsors, and a team that won’t let us quit, we feel this is a winning recipe for the next Ultra4 battle!
Thank you for all your support for us, our team, and our racing program.
Darren and Darlene Henke
DsquaredRacing #4441 .