The Western Off-road Racing Series has continued it’s impressive inaugural season with a scenic jaunt over the mighty Coquihalla Pass to go toe-to-toe with interior British Columbia’s best electric off-road R/C racers at Kelowna R/C on May 26-28, 2017. Mountain air merged into lake country, giving way seamlessly to sunbaked pasture and dirt racing heaven and with some of the best in the west in attendance the 2017 Spring Scorcher Shootout was always going to live up to it’s name! With some neighbourly requests in place at the KRC track, the nitro portion of the WORS tour would sit out Round 2, leaving 105 entries in 9 electric classes of 1/8 and 1/10 scale buggies, truggies and trucks to battle it out over three rounds of qualifying on Saturday, with single lower mains and triple A's taking place on Sunday.
Typically hot and dry conditions would greet racers with temperatures pressing 30 celsius and very little relief from the sun. Those who arrived in time for Friday practice would benefit from getting time on a brand new track that immediately and continually evolved over three days and offered a true off-road challenge. Dry, bumpy, dusty, grooved. It had character and every lap of every heat was different. Some loved it, some didn’t. In the end it didn’t matter as a traditional, true-to-it’s-roots off-road showdown played out in the soaring temperatures! The important balance between flow for racing and fun for for all, had been found, and as should be the case the cream rose to the top come trophy time. Staying on groove was obviously key, with only so much time for watering and grooming it did extend the challenge. Those who embraced it flourished while others were left chasing “it”. It did seem to make racing more interesting to watch as going wide allowed competitors to throw the sprintcar style “slide job” more frequently than usual without contact. All weekend long it was a wild west, outlaw style, genuine off-road, crossover passes, dirt slingin’, roost shootin’, paint tradin’ dang good time! This author definitely enjoyed both racing and spectating on this track! The track crew and the series did a fantastic job and a fun time was had by all.
1/10 2wd Buggy
It’s impossible to not respect the efforts of the 2wd buggy racers. Taking on a track that challenged the limits of traction on much more capable vehicles was no small feat and the racing was suitably intense, with surprises aplenty. Rob Sorjonen would TQ and win A1, seemingly set to wrap things up in straight sets before Jason Mardon would storm from 7th to steal A2 in what may have been drive of the day. Rob would settle for third behind the ever-consistent Dan Schellenberg who took three 2nds. A3 would begin with much on the line and as the dust settled on the opening minutes it was again Mardon who found his way to the front and was running away! Just beyond the two and a half minute mark, as an extraordinary upset was brewing, a bad kick off a tricky double sent Mardon’s car sideways and into an awkward landing. The resulting crash snapped a front end component and ended his stroke of good luck in one heartbreaking blink of an eye. Schellenberg and Sorjonen would need no further invitation to race away, eventually lapping the field before Sorjonen would steal a 4 second win once the clock expired. For Sorjonen, this would secure his second 2wd buggy victory of the series in appropriately nail-biting fashion! Schellenberg secured 2nd overall and the quiet but consistent Jason Melnyk took a well-deserved 3rd overall.
1/10 2wd Stadium Truck
The 2wd battles continued with Stadium Truck and while Jason Mardon would redeem his bad luck from buggy and sweep A1 and A2 for a convincing win, the result was hard fought and does not reflect the closeness of the racing in every heat and main of the weekend. One mistake separated Mardon and Tyrell Wilkinson in A1, A2 saw the top 5 all finish on the same lap less than 36 seconds apart and even the A3 fight for the minor spots cam down to less than 10 seconds between the top 3! Wilkinson would grab that win in A3 and take 2nd overall with Nick Weinrauch taking 3rd on the podium after three very consistent runs in the mains.
1/10 2wd Short Course Truck
The third and final 2wd class of the weekend was Short Course and while the traction battles continued, the racing was predictably exciting! Rob Sorjonen would take A1 by 8 seconds but with the top 6 drivers all on the same lap it was hardly a comfortable experience. A2 saw Tyrell Wilkinson sneak home by less than half a second in an epic down to the wire battle, providing A3 the kind of lead-up hype it deserved. With Craig Shepherd, Bill Kler and Aaron Matlo throwing their hats in the ring at different stages the top two guys couldn’t even solely focus on the battle with each other and would need to fend off accordingly in A3. In the end Shepherd was really the only one to challenge though, Sorjonen and Wilkinson maintaining enough of a gap with the former taking a 5 second win and the overall top spot. Wilkinson got his second runner up of the series followed by Shepherd in 3rd overall, also his second podium finish in the the first two races of the 2017 WORS tour.
1/10 4wd Buggy
The high powered, high traction 4wd buggies are always a hoot to watch (and race!) and with Richard Infanti surprising even himself and getting his HB D413 dirty, all the while blazing his way to TQ, things were going to get very competitive! Some surprising qualifying results left capable talent scattered from top to bottom come mains time with all 9 drivers posing a threat given the right circumstance. Infanti simply had all the answers all weekend long though, proving untouchable and a lap clear in A1 and A2 for the sweep. It was cold beers in hand for Richard by the time Rob Sorjonen would win A3 over Dan Schellenberg and arrange the minor podium spots into that very order. I ran this class (taking BQ and the transfer) and had some fantastic battles with my fellow competitors all weekend long. Special note to Dustin Quanstrom in 4th place, once again bumping from the B-main and fighting his way to an overall top 5 in the A's!
1/8 Expert E-Buggy
Off-road racers in BC have been served notice. Richard Infanti is likely reconsidering his electric outdoor program after Kelowna! While his nail-biting sweep of A1 and A2 was hardly comfortable, it was an impressive weekend and it was enough to get the job done. Rob Sorjonen would push Infanti every inch of the way but settle for 2nd overall again, taking the win in A3 and edging out Dan Schellenberg who did enough to hold steady where he qualified in 3rd overall. E-buggy is proving to consistently be one of the biggest and deepest fields on the WORS tour with surprises aplenty and gobs of rising BC talent fighting it out. I also raced this class and would like to thank my fellow racers for their fair and sportsmanlike conduct all weekend long.
1/8 Sportsman E-Buggy
The Sportsman buggy class, for racers who are just getting introduced to 8th scale racing, has been a hit over the first two rounds and although the entry list was smaller in Kelowna the excitement was not diminished. Al Jurisic, an up and comer to watch from Vancouver, would lead the way all weekend with his toughest challenges coming from Shawn Duffy and Tom Dishlevoy. Jurisic was unbeaten in A1 and A2 for the sweep and Duffy had a small hiccup in A2 before recovering for the win in A3 and 2nd overall. Dishlevoy was consistent and held onto 3rd comfortably. Clayton Campbell and Mark Levy both stepped up with 3rd place finishes in A2 and A3 respectively and Harold Welshman battled hard to take two top 5’s in the mains. Well done to all the Sportsman racers!
1/10 4wd Short Course Truck
The big boys of 1/10 off-road always put on a paint trading party and the dirt slinging 4wd monsters did not disappoint in Kelowna. Craig Shepherd had his truck on rails for A1 before keeping things interesting by finishing 3rd in A2. ‘The Kamloops Kid’ Tyrell Wilkinson would steal that race with another Kamloops racer in Thomas Reynolds making his mark and moving up a spot to 2nd. Shane Miller was in the running for a podium too but would agonizingly miss out in a tie-breaker for 3rd overall with Reynolds. The battle for A3 and the overall win would ultimately be settled at the 2-minute mark when Wilkinson had a mechanical failure. Shepherd would romp away with a confident one-lap victory and the series points lead heading into round 3 in Kamloops.
This author has been saying it since A1 of round 1 at the Big Barn Shootout but I am now confident enough to put it in writing. E-Truggy is going to provide the best battle of the series. Ross Moore and Brian Serneels have traded TQ’s and wins throughout the first two rounds in a “you first, no YOU first!” fashion and it seems neither racer has a distinct advantage over the other outside of bad luck. They are of course also going to have to deal with challenges from locals everywhere they go. Racers like the quickly improving Thomas Reynolds who took 3rd overall, should definitely have a local advantage in Kamloops for round 3 just to make things even more interesting! Al Jurisic was ever-present, grabbing a 3rd in A2 and the experience of Shane Miller can never be counted out. These guys are sure to continue cranking the level as this series unfolds and it is going to be a deadset cracker!!
Novice is all about getting new drivers on the stand and at the end of the day it was new-to-racing father and son team Derrick and Tim Kish who took home the top 2 spots respectively! Ken Seinen would take 3rd with Syd Strange joining in the fun on Sunday and finishing a close 4th. Well done to all the Novice racers!
The 2017 Spring Scorcher Shootout hosted by Kelowna R/C was a huge success for the momentum of the growing Western Off-road Racing Series. Thank you to Kelowna R/C, WORS and all their associated members, volunteers and sponsors who dream up these amazing events and then crazily somehow make them happen flawlessly in between still having some semblance of life outside of R/C racing….you are all amazing, it blows my mind! #RCfamily You can see all the photos from the event here at my Flickr profile. The Western Off-road Racing Series returns to the BC interior from June 23-25 when Kamloops’ Thompson Valley R/C Racing Club host the 2017 Kamloops Summer Classic. 1/8 nitro buggy and truggy racing will also rejoin the series! We cant wait to return the the sun-caked canyon walls of Kamloops for another crack at the best in the west! See you there!