The first main events of the 15th annual The Dirt Nitro Challenge ran on Saturday, with the Truck classes and Electric 1/8-Scale buggy divisions competing in main events all day long. As each main was originally set with 12 drivers in order to make room for three bump-ups the lower mains brought with them plenty of drama – and in the case of Pro Truck, David Ronnefalk recovered from losing both front body clips and driving around the track like an alligator until his pit crew was able to remedy the situation, while Billy Fischer (broken rear camber link) and Ryan Cavalieri (multiple flame-outs) were not so lucky. In the end, it was 2003 ROAR 1/8-Scale Buggy National Champion Jeremy Kortz who crossed the line first ahead of the recovering David Ronnefalk by less than one second. In a battle between two more European drivers, Renaud Savoya held off a late-race charge by Joern Neumann to take the final bump-up spot by just three-tenths of a second!
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Before the Pro Truck A-Main, however, several smaller races competed – including the Pro 1/8-Scale Electric Buggy final. On the first lap, top qualifier Ryan Lutz got crossed up through the front section allowing David Ronnefalk into second, and the current European 1/8-Scale champion motored by TQ Drew Moller after a mistake on the third lap, leaving him with the opportunity to drive away for the win by over ten seconds. Moller held on for the runner-up position after swapping positions with Dakotah Phend four times in the last four minutes.
1. David Ronnefalk (3) (Kyosho/Orion/AKA) – 12/8:18.666
2. Drew Moller (TQ) (Mugen/LRP/Pro-Line) – 12/8:29.034
3. Dakotah Phend (4) (TLR/Orion/Pro-Line) – 12/8:30.366
4. Cody King (9) (Kyosho/Orion/Pro-Line) – 12/8:33.924
5. Carson Wernimont (6) (Mugen/Reedy/AKA) – 12/8:35.364
6. Ty Tessmann (7) (Hot Bodies/Orion/Pro-Line) – 12/8:38.883
7. Josh Wheeler (8) (Xray/Tekin/AKA) – 12/8:41.489
8. Martin Bayer (14) (XRAY/LRP/AKA) – 12/8:41.631
9. Austin Blair (13) (Kyosho/Tekin/AKA) – 12/8:42.926
10. Ryan Lutz (2) (Team Durango/Tekin/AKA) – 12/8:43.311
11. Jared Tebo (5) (Kyosho/Orion/AKA) – 11/8:00.767
12. Billy Fischer (10) (TLR/Novak/Pro-Line) – 11/8:02.625
13. Barry Pettit (15) (Mugen/Tekin/AKA) – 11/8:04.777
14. Mike Truhe (11) (Serpent/Novak/Pro-Line) – 11/8:05.804
15. Adam Drake (12) (TLR/Tekin/Pro-Line) – 2/1:02.572
When Ty Tessmann got a good start and was able to pull out a gap from the field it looked as though he had the first-ever Nitro Challenge three-peat in the bag. South Carolina native Barry Pettit, however, put in the drive of his career to make his way through the field from ninth on the grid and outlasted a fantastic battle with new Mugen Seiki teammate Drew Moller. Once in second, Pettit reeled in Tessmann from over ten seconds behind to less than two, following the two-time champ and waiting for a mistake that just never came. A few mistakes from Pettit as the race wore on, as well as one extra pit stop over Tessmann’s now-famous fuel strategy, gave Tessmann a comfortable lead allowing him to single the nine-pack and cruise around the left side of the track to seal the win while Pettit made it by for the extra lap to lock up the runner-up position. The battle for third was even more intense than that for the win – and for a long while looked to be controlled by Cody King, who ‘never has good luck at this race,’ before that pattern continued: Mike Truhe crashed on the exit of pit lane and was helped by a turn marshal who directed him back into the front straightaway right in time for Cody to smash into him, damaging Cody’s throttle linkage and making his truck difficult to drive – he settled for sixth. Dakotah Phend had a rough beginning of the race and often looked like the fastest truck on the track, recovering from several mistakes to make his way back up through the field and hold off a resurgent Jared Tebo, the former champion also committing too many mistakes in the beginning of the race to make a challenge for the win.
1. Ty Tessmann (TQ) ( Hot Bodies/O.S./Pro-Line) – 62/45:26.955
2. Barry Pettit (9) (Mugen Seiki/Novarossi/AKA) – 62/45:38.353
3. Dakotah Phend (3) (TLR/Orion/Pro-Line) – 61/45:06.861
4. Jared Tebo (2) (Kyosho/Orion/AKA) – 61/45:07.619
5. Drew Moller (4) (Mugen Seiki/Novarossi/Pro-Line) – 61/45:14.192
6. Cody King (5) (Kyosho/REDS/Pro-Line) – 61/45:18.688
7. Ryan Maifield (8) (Associated/Novarossi/JConcepts) – 60/45:00.395
8. Adam Drake (12) (TLR/Novarossi/Pro-Line) – 60/45:16.829
9. Jeremy Kortz (13) (Agama/Werks/Pro-Line) – 60/45:42.741
10. Josh Wheeler (10) (XRAY/O.S./AKA) – 60/45:43.932
11. Mike Truhe (7) (Serpent/TOP/Pro-Line) – 57/45:33.951
12. David Ronnefalk (14)(Kyosho/Orion/AKA) – 48/35:50.335
13. Renaud Savoya (15) (XRAY/Orion/Sweep) – 48/45:29.083
14. Carson Wernimont (6) (Mugen Seiki/O.S./AKA)– 21/16:51.566
15. Ryan Lutz (11) (Team Durango/Alpha/AKA) – 14/10:08.553
Aside from the two Pro main events on Saturday, champions for several other classes were crowned as well.