After an unplanned year off in 2020, Bark River International Raceway is finally back where it belongs on the Championship Off-Road calendar, as the host of this year’s penultimate event. Two full days of racing today and tomorrow will prove crucial to the title hunt in the Pro classes, with close fights in most of the top divisions and only one more opportunity to make up any points next month at Crandon International Raceway.
One of the sport’s most historic and popular tracks, the Michigan circuit last saw the pros hit the dirt in 2019, before COR’s formation. Gathering restrictions put in place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last summer forced its removal from the inaugural series calendar. ERX Motor Park absorbed its 2020 race date to ensure that COR would still have a full schedule last year, but racers and fans alike have been patiently waiting for its return.
Friday qualifying saw drivers ranked either first or second in points sweeping the top times across the board, led by Pro 4 points leader CJ Greaves, who holds a five-point advantage over Kyle LeDuc in the division. Greaves’ chase for dual COR titles will still have to go through Brock Heger in the Pro Stock SXS, though, as he sits four points back of the lead. The path to that title got a little harder in qualifying as Heger posted the top time; he replicated the feat in Pro Lite, a class he’s dominated all year, to become the only driver to post two fastest laps yesterday.
In the remaining Pro divisions, it was the second-place driver in points who topped the time sheets. Rodney VanEperen was best in the Pro Mod SXS class, where he’ll look to further narrow Andrew Carlson’s eight-point advantage coming into the weekend. A double podium at Dirt City Motorplex last time out allowed VanEperen to cut into more than half of the lead that Carlson had built in the first half of the season.
On top of that, the Pro 2 class has seen major shake-ups in each of the past two events, and Jerett Brooks will hope to create another one after posting the fastest lap on Friday. Brooks also took two podiums at Dirt City as former championship leader Keegan Kincaid suffered a DNF to make up for his own struggles at ERX two weeks before that. Brooks’ double podium let him jump to within six points of new leader Ryan Beat, who won the second Dirt City feature.
Live streaming of Championship Off-Road action at Bark River International Raceway can be seen at champoffroad.com/livestream all day Saturday and Sunday. From there, the World Championship Off-Road Races at Crandon will close out the campaign in their traditional Labor Day weekend slot.
Images via Championship Off-Road