Avid UTV and Yamaha Launch Race Team

New team has its sights on King of the Hammers.

Avid UTV, Yamaha, and George LaMonte have formed a new race team to tackle King of the Hammers 2023.WESTx1000

UTV parts supplier Avid UTV has teamed up with Yamaha to start a new race team for this year. Avid Racing Yamaha is sending two Yamaha YXZ1000Rs to King of the Hammers this year, with veteran talent behind the wheel and in the pits. The first car, dubbed “The Burrito,” will be piloted by 14-year off-road racing veteran Tyler Thomas, with Chris Rea, a 20-year Hammers vet who has competed in every class except UTVs, in the co-driver’s seat.

Veteran drivers Tyler Thomas and Rodney VanEperen will be behind the wheel of the team’s two 2023 Yamaha YXZ1000Rs.WESTx1000

Rodney VanEperen will be driving the second car, nicknamed “Taquito,” with Tony Albano in the co-driver’s chair. VanEperen competes in a Yamaha in the short-course Championship Off-Road Series. Albano transitioned from the back of the garage to the navigator’s seat in 2020 and 2021, running the Sonora Rally with team owner George LaMonte.

It’s the team’s first crack at King of the Hammers, but each driver and co-driver has tons of desert racing experience to bring to bear.WESTx1000

Getting a team like this off the ground and underway is no mean feat, and the whole crew clearly have a sense of humor about it: The effort is being called Project Last Stand. We love it. Properly respectful of the Hammers course, but ruthlessly defiant of long odds. The team says their goal this year is just to show up, but we have a feeling they might be underselling their potential.

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