O'Brien, Field and Zimmer Take Overall 2004 Eastern States Rally Championship
Knoxville, TN (November 30, 2004) -- Rookie Danny O'Brien and co-driver Stephen Duffy have taken top honors as the 2004 Eastern States Rally Overall Champions, followed by Jeff Field and co-driver Michael Hordijk and Randy Zimmer and co-driver Russell Strate. O'Brien, after a slow start, made a strong push mid year with a win at the Cherokee Trails Rally that gave him the lead and made the others think twice about taking the Championship. A good consistent run made the difference, especially at the season ending Rally New York USA whose field was thick with top class driver and cars. O'Brien drove a production based Super Stock class Subaru WRX and showed what patience and consistent runs mean in the sport. Look for O'Brien and Duffy driving a new Subaru WRX STi in the new Super Stock One class for the 2005 ESRC, as well as a possible run at the 2005 United States Rally Championship title.
Having had a remarkable season in light of their car classing were the second place duo of Jeff Field and Michael Hordijk. Down on horsepower and driven wheels in comparison to the AWD turbo classes in their immaculately prepared Stock class Toyota Celica GTS, they've shown that a well balanced driver/car combination can be extremely competitive. Although Field's been in the sport a number of years, Hordijk is a rookie who made a big step up to call the notes. Always going flat-out, their highpoints were a second and third overall on gravel events that must have embarrassed the other teams. Surely one of the strongest teams nationally, if they decide to go for a USRC run, everybody better lookout!
Evergreens Randy Zimmer and Russell Strate rounded out the top three positions. Always the model of consistency, Zimmer showed everybody what a properly driven normally aspirated Subaru can do against the big boys.
The season was not without surprises. Preseason picks for the Championship Seamus Burke and co-driver Charlie Bradley had transmission failure at Rally New York and bad luck on a tight section at Cherokee Trails which put them out of the Championship hunt by mid-season while Tom Lawless and Jason Gillespie had several mechanical failures including Rally Tennessee and Rally New York along with an off at Cherokee Trails to ruin their bid. Lawless and Gillespie would later in the season make a "come from behind win" at Maine Forest but by then the Championship was all but lost.
John Drislane was either on or off, and when he finished it was in first or second. Look for a consistent run next year to make Drislane a title contender. Running partial seasons, Eion McGeough, Liam Egan and Patrick Lilly were fighting for top honors in the events that they entered. Rookies John Meegan and Mattie Keaney made a strong statement throughout the year, first on consistency and then with speed, at the end making a good run for the Championship but missing out with a crash on the second stage of Rally New York USA. Next year they are definitely going to keep the heat on the others for the crown.
In all wheel drive class honors, Rookie Scott Gardner took Prototype 1, Zimmer and Strate wrapped up the Prototype 2 early on, Cyril Kearney and Cornelius O'Sullivan won Group N4, and O'Brien and Duffy took Super Stock. In the two wheel drive classes, Mark and Duffy Bowers took the Modified 1 win, Dan Brosnan took the Modified 2 win, and Field and Hordijk the Stock win.
Stay tuned for more information on a great 2005 Eastern States Championship, including two rounds of the United States Rally Championship.