Dubai, UAE, 23 February 2018: Desert Storm Racing had it all to play for in Round 5 of the Emirates Desert Championship on Friday (16 February). After Round 4 Rashed Faraj overhauled Ryan Trutch in the championship table due to both Desert Storm Racing vehicles #310 and #312 both suffering from secondary clutch failure and walking away with zero points.
For Round 5 teammates Trutch and Cudby were well prepared and familiar with the course that again returned to the Al Faqa dunes, with its high-speed back leg over rolling dunes. It required a good memory and confidence to know when to stay on the gas and when to brake for the drop-off dunes. It was also combined with a rough and technical section which suited the long travel suspension setup of the Desert Storms Polaris Razors; nevertheless, both were expecting a tough battle with the championship ready to swing into the favour or three different drivers.
With Faraj starting two rows in front of Trutch and his Mebar teammate and a potential contender Hadi Abdulla Hadi Ahmed starting beside Trutch it was sure to be flat out from the onset. Hadi brought the fight to Trutch and took the lead from the start and Trutch followed just a few meters behind as they flew through and over the dunes at speed. Cudby started farther back and was looking for a steady race to ensure the Polaris made it to the finish line.
Within the first few kilometres Hadi and Trutch were up with Faraj and Trutch realized that the Mebar team was considering team tactics with Faraj traveling at a relatively easy pace to allow Hadi through to and challenge Trutch for his position in the championship.
From there the battle intensified. Trutch needed to break away from Hadi and he used his previous knowledge of the course to try and anticipate and read the dunes from memory. However, Hadi in the Yamaha wouldn’t allow him to gain any substantial lead and to let Trutch do all the work at the front.
With the course having several severe drop-offs Trutch had to remain a little cautious not to take unnecessary risk but with the heavy-duty suspension on his vehicle he had the upper hand. Towards the half way point the leaders were upon one of these drop-offs and both drivers took a heavy drop on the front suspension.
The damage was immediately apparent with Trutch’s exhaust falling off and with a substantial increase in decibels coming from his now unruffled exhaust, so that everyone could hear him from miles around. There was also some damage on the front suspension but there was simply no letting up on the pace.
After a few minutes Trutch realized that Hadi was no longer tailgating him and unfortunately Hadi had retired after suffering terminal suspension damage back at the drop off.
Trutch kept up the pace with his now screaming engine having an adverse effect on his fuel consumption: without a muffler, the engine lost back pressure which resulted in fuel flowing into the engine much faster and compromising the fuel economy. Trutch should have made it to the end of the race on a single tank of fuel but on lap four he was forced to pull into the pits to refuel, costing him an additional 1 minute and 30seconds per lap.
While Trutch struggled with additional pit stops, Faraj had caught up and passed the Desert Storm Racing driver. As Faraj flew down the start and finish straight with his pit crew cheering him on he put his foot down even harder. Trutch tried to chase down Faraj but he could only manage the status quo for another four laps.
On the last lap flying Emirati Saif Al Muhaira surprised and passed both drivers to take the lead and finish the race in first-place. Faraj clinched second and Trutch barley finished to claim third, with his fuel tank again running on empty.
Meanwhile Cudby was having a steady race and it looked like he would get to the end in order to maintain a fifth place standing in the championship, but it was not to be with his vehicle again suffering a mechanical fault just a few hundred meters from the finish line.
In many ways it’s been an unlucky season for the Desert Storm Racing duo with both vehicles suffering problems throughout the season and losing valuable points for the championship. Despite these setbacks Trutch managed to better his previous seasons’ third-place finish and to bring it home for a second-place overall this season.
Cudby was still pleased to keep seventh-place in the overall championship. He said, “It’s been an up and down season for me; I had a good start to this season after overcoming a problematic first season. Unfortunately, it seems mechanical gremlins have come back to haunt me just when I have really started to get into the pace of the championship.”
“I suspect that its time that me and my teammate start to look at more reliable vehicles for next season. Thank you to our pit crew who have provided us with invaluable support throughout the season.”
Trutch commented, “The team has come on leaps and bounds this year and I am super happy to clinch second in the championship; the title was well within my sights but Rashed had the upper hand in the points table. Well done to him and his team, it’s been great racing against him and I suspect this won’t be the last time we have a battle to the end.”
“I would like to thank all our sponsors for the support this year Automotive Management Services, Polaris and BYX. Moreover, thanks to our parts suppliers RCV Performance, Alba racing, OMP Racing and HCR Racing for helping us build highly capable vehicles. For now our eyes are set on next season and we are going to go back to the drawing board to build new vehicles that can take the fight to hopefully win next year’s championship.”
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Report: Ryan Trutch