2016 King of the Hammers UTV Racing, Every Man Challenge & The Start

    The Race is On!

    Matt EmeryPhotographer, Writer

    At the start of the Polaris RZR KOH UTV King of the Hammers, all eyes were on six-time KOH UTV Champ Mitch Guthrie. The question was could the racer from Glendora, Calif., who had dominated the class for more than half a decade, net a record seventh win over a KOH record 60 side by side entries.

    As the field took to the course on Wednesday, February 4th and one of them was Blake Van de Loo from Phoenix, Arizona. Van de Loo, who drives for Jagged X Racing, and who won the UTV class of the 2015 Baja 1000, used his desert racing skills to quickly close the gap on Guthrie on the first lap. “I definitely took some risks in the desert,” said Van de Loo, who left the starting line five positions behind Guthrie. “I pushed a little harder than I probably should have, but I kept it in control, and we got out in front and that’s what we wanted to do.”

    Van de Loo and Guthrie then headed into the second lap neck-and-neck. “We caught Mitch after lap one, but then we were battling in the rocks going back and forth,” said Van de Loo. “Mitch is such a classy driver though. We’d catch up and he’d let us by and then he’d catch us, and we’d let him go by. We traded positions about 10 times.”

    It wasn’t until Guthrie broke a Heim joint on his lower A-Arm coming down Jackhammer that Van De Loo took the lead for good. Guthrie estimates the mechanical cost him about 40 minutes and that let Van de Loo easily run away with the race.

    In the end, Van de Loo tackled the 115-mile course in a time of 4:22:53, 30 minutes faster than the next competitor. After recovering from the mechanical, Guthrie battled his way back to 5th. An impressive feat considering two-thirds of the field DNF’d, including 2016 Dakar Rally winner Marcus Patronelli.

    The victory marks Van de Loo’s first win in four starts and only the third time in the eight-year history of the UTV event that there has been a new winner.

    Top Five:
    1. Blake Van de Loo: 4:22:53
    2. Branden Sims: 4:55:19
    3. Chad Hughes: 5:05:52
    4. Dean Bulloch: 5:11:44
    5. Mitch Guthrie: 5:14:19