Class Champions Include: Justin Keilman, Branden Blume, Dale Unnerstall, Scott Angell, Terrell Gauny
BLACKFOOT, ID FEBRUARY 26, 2016: The final event of the W.E. Rock series is the grand daddy of them all, the Maxxis Grand Nationals. This event brings the Western Series and Eastern Series drivers into a head-to-head competition to determine the best of the best in the United States Pro Rock Crawling. In 2015, the second weekend in September saw twenty of the top competitors and their teams descend on the small town of Mason, TX where Katemcy Rocks K2 would host this competition. Katemcy Rocks, not the original, but what is now K2 provides a beautiful site for camping, trail riding and rock crawling on one of the coolest sets of rocks in the US rivaling with Arizona for big and dramatic.
“We have a core group of competitors that make W.E. Rock what it is today, who have become friends from the years of competition. This event is fun for everyone that gets to participate and compete against the champions in the opposite series,” said Rich Klein, President and founder of W.E. Rock Events. “Going to K2 this year was a great idea. It gave everyone a level playing field as no one had a home field advantage experiencing the rocks in competition in the past.”
There were seven Pro Unlimited rigs that, keeping everything very entertaining, seemed to change the lead after every obstacle. Small mistakes here and there brought a different competitor to the forefront, and major mistakes took the driver completely out of the points running. At the end of the first day, three competitors had pulled ahead, but not enough distance was between any score to give one a comfortable lead. Justin Keilman, Arizona, had an -87, Jesse Haines, Nevada, -86 and Justin Hall, California, a -75. (lowest score wins)
The second day saw some Herculean efforts to stay in the top group. Second day scores would change the lead and keep others close. At the end of the day, before the shootout, Jesse Haines had climbed to the top position with -170; Justin Keilman had -160, Justin Hall was -159 and Matt Messer, California, was within striking distance at -117. It all came down to the shootout, as it often does in high levels of competition.
Matt Messer was first up on the course, he was unable to complete the challenging course and posted a 34, effectively taking him out of contention for the lead. Justin Hall was next, his spotter/dad proved his mettle by literally picking up the car and moving it off a rock that Justin was hung up on, but it cost them time and Justin posted a -3 for his efforts. His total score was now a -162, ahead of Justin Keilman before his shootout run. Keilman took the course next and with a fortunate bounce was able to post the highest shootout score at -46. He now had a commanding lead at -206. The leader was still to come, Jesse Haines took the course, his run looked smooth and clean until he came off a big rock that kicked him off in to the last cone on course. Jesse posted a -23, a respectable score, but not enough to take the championship title, which now belongs to Justin Keilman.
There were five ProMod competitors competing for the top spot, perennial favorite Branden Blume, Arkansas, with his dad, Kenny Blume took the top spot. They had a commanding lead after the first day with the final score being -88, sixty points ahead of second place finisher Masanori Tsuda of Japan. Third place went to former National Champion Aaron Sykes, California, and Kenny Rose, coming out of retirement for this single event in 2015.
The weekend was rounded out with competitors in other classes. Scott Angell with spotter Josh Thiede took home the Mod Stock title. Terrell Gauny, Texas, took home the first ever UTV Class championship. The battle for the Sportsman title came down to second day tactics. After the first day, Charlie Vacha, Arizona, was in first place, followed by Scott Angell, Kansas, and Dale Unnerstahl, Missouri. The second day of competition changed everything up, putting Dale in the top spot, followed by Charlie and then Scott. See all the results at www.werocklive.com/2015/w-e-rock-2015-grand-nationals
As the rock crawling season is about to begin again for 2016, the season has been expanded to include four locations each on the east and west with the final event, Grand Nationals to be held in Farmington, New Mexico. At each event, local rock crawling participants are welcome to join the competitive action, or are sought out to help be judges and volunteer recovery personnel. New for 2016, there will be an addition of a UTV class that will have challenging, yet do-able, rock courses for the UTV drivers to test their rock crawling skills and techniques.
See the full schedule of upcoming events: www.werocklive.com/events.
Past Event Coverage: www.werocklive.com
Event Sponsors: Maxxis Tires, Artec Industries, Trail Gear, Branik Motorsports, Crown Automotive, Superchips, Dirt Skins, Fox Racing Shox, MetalCloak, PSC Motorsports, Currie Enterprises, Tom Woods Custom Driveshafts, JM Rigging Supply, Axel Off Road Gear & Apparel, PCI Race Radios, Advance Adapters, Pac Racing Springs, NitroGear, Sparks Pro Racing, The SickLine.com, Race Team Store