The Speedwerx/Tralo Motorsports/Arctic Cat Team made the short trip to ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minn., this past weekend for the fifth running of the ERX Off-Road National, which served as the opening round of the new Championship Off-Road series.
The team was running five Wildcat XXs at the event. Jeremy Houle, No. 54, and Rookie Pro Jack LeTourneau, No. 97, competed in the Pro Stock SXS division; and in the Sportsman division, rookies Jake Jorgenson, No. 11, and Mike LeTourneau, No. 99, were joined by a late addition to the roster, Jonny Hentges, No. 15.
Friday morning started off with Jack LeTourneau and Houle qualifying second and third placing Houle on the outside front row and LeTourneau inside row two for the main event later that day.
Following several Sportsman truck and buggy races, the Sportsman SXS racers took to the track for their 10-lap main event. Starting positions in the 31-car field were selected with a random draw that had Hentges starting in second, Mike LeTourneau in sixth and Jorgenson in 23rd.
When the green flag flew, Hentges jumped out to an early lead and LeTourneau slotted into second, but there was a yellow before the lap was completed and they lined back up in their original positions for a restart. On the second attempt, Hentges again jumped out to an early lead, but would cross the line in second, with LeTourneau in fourth and Jorgenson in 14th. The racers continued to battle for position until a yellow flew on lap seven with LeTourneau in third, Hentges in fifth and Jorgenson in sixth. The race was shortened to eight laps due to time and on the restart, the green and white were displayed for a one-lap dash to the finish. With the field bunched up, there was a lot of jockeying for position and when the checkers flew, it was Hentges in fifth, Jorgenson in sixth and LeTourneau in seventh. LeTourneau posted the fastest lap of the race, and Jorgenson had the second fastest.
Following opening ceremonies, Houle and Jack LeTourneau lined up for the 12-lap, 25-car Pro Stock SXS main. When the green flag flew, both drivers wasted no time getting out front in the first and second positions; and when the competition caution flew at the halfway point, Houle led LeTourneau by more than 1.5 seconds and third by 3.9 seconds. On the restart, they maintained their positions but late in the lap, LeTourneau got caught up in a rut and flipped. The yellow came out and LeTourneau was able to restart but had to go to the tail of the field. Back under green, Houle drove a smooth race and continued to maintain his lead to the finish. He would take the checkers with about a three-car-length lead over the defending champion, while LeTourneau made it all the way back up to seventh place.
“Our hard work and preparation in the off-season is really paying off,” said Houle.
Unfortunately, the win would be taken away following post-race tech inspection as the car was a fraction of an inch beyond the maximum allowable width. The day proved to be a roller coaster of emotions, but the team worked into the night to prepare for Saturday and was determined to focus on the highs and put the lows behind them.
In Saturday morning’s Pro qualifying session, Houle smoked the field and qualified in the first position. After the re-draw, he would start sixthand Jack LeTourneau would start in seventh.
The Sportsman SXS class lined up based off points with the top 12 inverted for the remainder of the season. This put all three team drivers starting towards the front in sixth, seventh and eighth for the 10-lap, 30-car main.
When the green flag flew, Mike LeTourneau quickly made his way into third with Jorgenson right behind him in fourth. Hentges got caught up behind two other cars that tangled, causing him to drop back to 15th. On the second lap, the yellow flew as LeTourneau found himself upside down in the tight switchback corner, but race officials penalized the second-place driver and LeTourneau was given his spot back. On the restart, he was solidly in second place and Jorgenson in third, but the race was filled with cautions — including one due to Hentges which would end his race — and the race was cut to six laps due to the time limit. The final restart had the white and green out at the same time for another one-lap dash. LeTourneau would finish second and Jorgenson in third.
Houle and Jack LeTourneau were up next for the 12-lap, 23-car Pro Stock SXS final. Houle quickly made his way into third place after a few corners, while LeTourneau was in seventh racing hard with the defending champion for position. There was a restart on lap two and Houle took advantage and made an aggressive move up the inside to sweep into second, and immediately began putting pressure on the race leader. On lap four, LeTourneau got tangled up trying to make an inside pass on the switchback turn which ended his race day. The race would be shortened to 10 laps due to time and on the restart, Houle was all over the leader again and made several attempts to find a way to pass the leader clean, but had to settle for second place.
“I’m super proud of all these guys on our team,” said Houle.
Next on the team’s schedule is second stop of the Championship Off-Road series at Dirt City Motorplex, in Lena, Wisc., on July 25-26. The team is confident in their setup for this race and expects to be contenders for podiums and wins after showing great speed in the SXS Sports event held there in late June. The races will be broadcast with a free livestream on Saturday and Sunday at https://champoffroad.com/livestream/.
Check out the Speedwerx Facebook page or YouTube page for a highlight reel from the race. The entire livestream broadcast can also be seen here.
Championship Off-Road Schedule:
July 10-11- ERX Motor Park- Elk River, Minn.
July 25-26- Dirt City Motorplex- Lena, Wisc.
September 4-5- Crandon International Off-Road Raceway
September 26-27- Crandon International Off-Road Raceway
Team Manager/Driver: Jeremy Houle | firstname.lastname@example.org | 651-982-6020