Rockstar Makita Team LeDuc encouraged by strong showing at CORR season opener CHERRY VALLEY, Calif. -- Rockstar Makita Team LeDuc went into the opening round of the Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) season believing it had done...
Rockstar Makita Team LeDuc encouraged by strong showing at CORR season opener
CHERRY VALLEY, Calif. -- Rockstar Makita Team LeDuc went into the opening round of the Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) season believing it had done everything necessary to be a title contender.
Sunday evening (April 27), after debuting its new multi-year sponsorship and two new Ford trucks with a series of strong races, the team went home convinced that a pair of championships isn't beyond its reach.
"I think this team's a threat no matter where we race," team leader Curt LeDuc said after the two days of racing at the Los Angeles County Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., and the results reinforce that opinion.
Todd LeDuc raced to a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Pro 2 class, Kyle LeDuc made his Pro 4 class debut with a fifth-place finish in the first of the weekend's two rounds, and both Kyle and Curt were positioned for top three finishes in the second round before encountering mechanical problems.
In addition, freestyle motocross legend Brian Deegan made his four-wheel racing debut with promising efforts in the Pro Lite class.
"Rockstar was here and Makita brought out 40 people and Kal-Gard was here. It was a great day for all of our sponsors, a good time," Todd LeDuc said.
Todd's Class 2 Ford was one of the trucks the team built during the off-season, and all parties involved were happy with the debut. He qualified fourth and finished fourth on Saturday while struggling to find the right grip on the concrete-and-dirt course, then qualified third on Sunday and was running second until he was victimized by circumstances.
"Saturday we qualified fourth and the race went pretty well; we stayed fourth," said Todd, who has finished third and fifth in the standings the past two seasons. "We had traction problems with our tires. Today we did a tire change (from the Toyo Mud Terrain to the Toyo All-Terrain), with different grooving, and it worked out better for us.
"We qualified third and ran second. Then another truck hit me and gave me a left rear flat and I drove the last nine laps on a flat tire. But we still were holding off the other guys for a long time.
"We're going to go home and test a little bit more and go to Primm (Nev.) with a good chance to win the race."
Round two of the eight-race series is scheduled for May 17-18 at the new Las Vegas International Off-Road Raceway in Primm (formerly Stateline), Nev.
Kyle LeDuc was also talking about a potential win or top three finish at Primm after making his debut in the Pro 4 class in the team's other new Ford.
"There were some heartbreaks, but all in all I felt good, I felt strong, so it was a good weekend," he said. "There was a little uncertainty as far as suspension (in the new truck), but the power and everything felt great. I feel really confident for this year. I know we're going to win a race, for sure."
Kyle, who had 17 wins and a championship in the Pro Lite class, qualified fifth and finished fifth on Saturday. He started fifth again on Sunday and moved into fourth 11 laps into the 17-lap race, but slowed the next time around and limped to the finish in ninth after a brief on-course stop.
"The rear end dropped down too far and it ended up breaking a driveshaft," Kyle said. "It was one of those things, you know; better safe than sorry. So I pulled off to make sure everything (else) was okay and then just drove around for some points. "
Kyle's problem on Sunday developed just one lap after Curt had pulled off the track with a small fire in his Rockstar Makita Ford after losing a rear hub seal. On Saturday he had been hit by another truck on the opening lap and forced to retire with a broken front differential, upright and A-arm.
That left the team leader without a finish for the weekend, but with his confidence reinforced by moving from 10th to fifth before his mishap.
The week before Pomona, Curt LeDuc had driven the Rockstar Makita Ford Class 8000 truck to another win in the Best in the Desert series Terrible's 250 at Primm. It was the second BITD win of the season for the defending class champion and kept alive his streak of having finished every race for the past six years.
He thinks the Pro 4 entry has similar capabilities in the closed-course series.
"We worked on the car all winter," Curt LeDuc said. "I couldn't trust it last year. It wasn't predictable. Now I've got to rethink my strategy and just trust the car and go for it. As a team we (he and Kyle) are going to be a threat in Pro 4. We're going to drive each other to go faster."
Deegan, one of the pioneers of freestyle motocross, made his transition to four-wheel competition by finishing 16th on Saturday and 14th on Sunday while racing in the biggest (28 trucks) of the pro fields. Each day, however, there were extenuating circumstances.
On Saturday, he suffered a flat tire shortly after the start. That dropped him to the rear of the field, but he drove a steady race and used it as a learning experience. On Sunday, Deegan qualified 17th, and even though he said "there was more than a few times where I was out of control," he was safely in the top 10 until the final lap.
"Then this dude just clipped my rear end and spun us both out," he said. "It was kind of a weak move, but whatever. I'm here and I'm racing. What can I do?"
He said the anger he felt at the time underscored his enjoyment, though.
"I had a blast," Deegan said. "I can tell I had fun when I get emotional about something. That's when I'm into it. I was ticked because I had top 10 like I wanted to do. The goal was top 10. I see this group and there's like the top 10, the top five area and the winners. I'll slowly make my way up."
Curt LeDuc gave Deegan high marks for his debut.
"He did good," LeDuc said. "He didn't do anything silly and didn't tear up the car. He got along with the team and got high marks from everybody, the sponsors included. I think he likes it."