Levi Shirley felt like he was a conquering hero returning home Monday night after finishing first in the King of the Mountain-Italy race last weekend.
It was Shirley's first feature win in four tries at the Ultra4 off-road class as he dominated the action on the 25-kilometer course. Shirley won all four timed laps and finishing first in each of the runs after placing second in the prologue by two seconds to Italy's Roberto Ciani.
"I don't know really know how to explain the feeling of winning because it really hasn't quite sunk in yet," Shirley said. "Everything about it was cool."
His combined time of 3 hours, 6 minutes and 35 seconds was more than 21 minutes ahead of Ciani, his closest competitor. They were the only two to finish all four stages under four hours.
Shirley beat racers from Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Malta and Switzerland to claim the win for his Lucky Dog Racing group.
"It was in front of a huge crowd and all of the eyes were on me," Shirley said. "When I finished second in the prologue and won the two races on the first day; all of the eyes were on me to do well on the second day.
"We were in Italy and about half the people spoke English at the race; but when I went to give my speech, I still got one heck of an applause."
He had finished third in Wales in his first King of the Valleys competition and has also raced in Portugal and Scotland. His poor result in Scotland earlier this year due to not getting enough rest and the poor racing conditions made him change how he prepared for the Italy race.
"Scotland was set up with a muddy track and, on top of that, we rushed to get a brand new car done," Shirley said. "We were thousands of miles from home trying to build a new car, and we didn't sleep for three or four days. We weren't as prepared as we needed to be.
"I was more ready physically and mentally this time. I went over there with a good mindset. We got the car ready and I felt good. I knew I was going to do good if I just put everything down and it worked out. That's why I went over there a week early this time, so I knew I would be ready."
The win continues to help him get better in off-road racing, as well as helping with getting more sponsors to cope with the financial aspect of the sport; including helping on racing during the United States tour, including racing this weekend in Indianapolis.
"It helps with the sponsors because they like to see you out front," Shirley said. "Lucky Dog Racing is the team of my dad and I and we race all over the world. We are tied to our sponsors and we have good sponsors who have been a vital part to our success."