NAmer: Widget Rally Team Oregon Trail summary

Podium Finish and Regional Win at Oregon Trail Widget and Cavett Rally Motorsports Team Up Again Hillsboro, OR. Gary Cavett (Cavett Rally Motorsports, Kirkland, WA) and John Dillon (Widget Rally Team, Thousand Oaks, CA), fresh from their overall...

Podium Finish and Regional Win at Oregon Trail
Widget and Cavett Rally Motorsports Team Up Again

Hillsboro, OR. Gary Cavett (Cavett Rally Motorsports, Kirkland, WA) and John Dillon (Widget Rally Team, Thousand Oaks, CA), fresh from their overall victory at the Doo Wops Rally Series, tackled the Oregon Trail Rally April 22nd-24th and carried away several trophies as a result. Thanks to financial support from Perforce Software, who've renewed their commitment to the Widget Rally Team for the 2005 season, and Subaru Parts Dot Com, who help Cavett Rally Motorsports, the pair was able to take home awards in both the national and regional components of the race. Racing in the Open class for highly modified street cars, the team won the "Wagon's Ho!" Regional rally and finished third in the "Oregon Trail" National rally, each in class. On Saturday they took home second place (Open) in the "Oregon or Bust" rally. Because they stopped to help the crew of a crashed car, scores on Sunday's "Trail's End" rally placed them well down in the order.

"This was my first time racing on Yokohama tires," observed Cavett, "and there's quite a learning curve with that. You keep wondering 'when am I going to lose grip?' so you don't attack the stages quite as aggressively." While most of the competition uses Pirelli, Michelin, or Silverstone tires, Cavett chose Yokohama with the help of former Canadian champion Dan Sprongl. "New tires can be addicting!" he joked, adding "I think we selected a compound that was too soft as the tires wore out way too fast."

"A lot of 'big guns' raced against us this weekend, including former World champion Stig Blomqvist and defending North American champion Pat Richard," so we had the opportunity to measure ourselves against the best," remarked codriver Dillon. "Their presence brings additional stature to the sport in the U.S. Plus, they're nice folks. Gary's car now carries Stig's autograph--on the dashboard!"

This event was also the first time Cavett raced with numeric stage notes. Stage notes are a collection of books that describe each curve in the road for every stage of the rally. The notes are provided to the teams just prior to the start of the race. (Numeric notes rank corners on a scale of 1 to 6.) Teams are not allowed to pre-run the course, so their only knowledge of the road is what's in the books. In previous stage note events Cavett had used "descriptive" notes that describe the turns as "easy," "medium," "hard," "K," "acute," or "hairpin." He said, "Too much thinking about the notes may have cost us time."

Event highlights for the team

The rally began Friday night at Portland Int'l Raceway. Though Tim Cavett, the one-man crew, had to scramble with tire changes after each stage (the event alternated between asphalt and dirt roads), his efforts were rewarded with a class victory for the first night's regional rally.

For the rest of the weekend, Tim was joined by additional crew members Jason Clayton, Masa Horigome, and Kevin Jones. The three are certified auto technicians that work with Cavett on a daily basis. Gary praised them, saying "To spend their weekends servicing a race car, when all they do during the week is break their backs working on cars, is really unbelievable. Having a strong crew like Tim, Jason, Masa, and Kevin in the service area can help win events--the driver no longer has to worry about if the car is repaired right, the wheels are torqued properly and so on. These guys are the best crew I have ever had."

Saturday took them out to the Tillamook area for the first lengthy stages of the rally. Here they managed to really work with the new tires and notes for the first time. Driving conservatively to save the car and to adjust to the new equipment and calls, they executed a solid performance throughout the day. By the end of the day their stage times showed them nibbling away seconds from their nearest competition.

Their stage times improved on Sunday until a flat tire cost them several minutes on stage 18. After stopping to change the tire, they resumed when, just a minute later, they came up on the crashed car of Jamie Thomas and Matt Gauger. Naturally the team stopped to render aid, with Cavett rushing to check on Gauger (Thomas was already out of the car) and Dillon rushing back down the road to warn upcoming vehicles. Though ultimately both competitors were fine, on the doctor's advice Cavett accompanied Thomas when she was transported to an ambulance pickup point. This left Dillon to drive the rally car out the stage with Gauger navigating. By the time the emergency situation had been cleared, the final stage had been completed, thus event organizers assigned Cavett/ Dillon a "representative" time, citing "force majeure" and the team's response to the incident.

"Naturally we would have liked to have raced the last stage," said Dillon, "but it's far more important that we attend to the needs of potentially injured competitors. Gary was really hooked up and storming through the stage, so I think we would have done well on 19."

"We knew the weekend would be a learning event for us," observed the driver. "While we'd hoped for a top ten finish overall, we did the right thing in our response to the emergency situation, so we're satisfied with our result. Besides, we still scored third in our class!"

Dillon, of the Widget Rally Team, races again in two weeks at the Subaru Rim of the World Rally, codriving for Wolfgang Hoeck. The two won in Group N (and finished second overall) last December at the Ramada Express International Rally. Cavett's next race in the Cavett Rally Motorsports Subaru will be in June at the Dryad's Quest/Shitepoke Double Rally in Washington.

-wrt-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Pat Richard , Stig Blomqvist