Three Days, Three hundred -fifty miles, Three Teams at the Podium:
The Ramada Express International Rally USA presented by Autosport Engineering
LAUGHLIN, NV-December 12,2004- Three days of dust, dirt, mud, mountain roads and scenic vistas enthralled the event workers, intrigued the service crews, and challenged the rally competitors. The FIA-listed 2004 Ramada Express International Rally USA sanctioned by USAC, ended Sunday afternoon with its newest podium finishers decided. First overall were Peter Workum and Alex Gelsomino, in a silver Open class Subaru. Second overall were , Wolfgang Hoeck and John Dillon, in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, and third overall was claimed by George Plsek, and Jeff Burmeister running a red-white-and-blue Open Class Mitsubishi Lancer EVO. Each team proudly drove across the event Finish Ramp, then took their place upon the podium. Champagne flowed and spirits were high as each of the winning teams basked in the lights of the film crews and the flash of the photographers' cameras.
Friday, Leg 1: Silver Creek, Stages 1 and 2
The rally opened with excellent weather, clear and crisp. The new Silver Creek Road stage course included a great mix of road textures, bumps, thumps, and challenges. As one of two new competitive stages for 2004, the Silver Creek 6.0-mile turn-around stage became a rally favorite. Event organizers worked for seven years to secure use permission on this Mohave County primitive road. Many county and city officials attended, ready to personally view the rally action. The stage course is within three miles of Bullhead City, Arizona, and organizers hope to use stage road in future competitions.
Silver Creek includes wide sweeping curves leading into narrow twisting curves in the desert foothills. Exceptional rally skills narrowed the competitive margins, with outstanding results from Stephan Verdier and Allan Walker, car 3 in a Subaru WRX, Peter Workum and Alex Gelsomino, car 3, in a Subaru, and Wolfgang Hoeck and John Dillon, car 5, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII. Best time on the six-mile stage was 5:34 set by Workum/Dillon.
Friday Leg 1, Part 2: Windy Point Hill Climb, Stages 3 and 4
This twisting, winding steep former mule and miners' trail near the historic town of Chloride, Arizona, experienced the modern feel of new horses - make that horsepower - as rally teams completed the second set of new event stages. Teams traveled Windy Point Hill Climb twice in competition, starting at a 2,589 foot elevation and climbing to 6,070 feet along a mountain ridge in 5.3 miles.
Stage times remained very close and very consistent over the two runs, and first four teams finished within 60/100 th minute at end of first day, with most scores within seven to eight minutes. Fastest time for the hill climb was set by Workum/Dillon at 5:97.
Saturday Leg 3 Grand Canyon and the Land of the Hualapai
Saturday opened with an early 6:00 start toward this year's most demanding competitive day, with 322 stage and transit miles. Severe snow and rain storms within two weeks of the event lost three of the competition stages, resulting in re-routing of the course. A spectacular new 10-mile stage became a lake at the finish, to the disappointment of the organizers, and was dropped.
Saturday's competition opened with the Diamond Creek Stage, the famous17-mile drive from the very bottom of the magnificent Grand Canyon to its rim. From there, competition moved into foothills and pinon forests within the Hualapai Indian Nation surrounding Peach Springs, Arizona
Leg 3, Sunday SuperStage®
A perfect day dawned for the final four stages of three-day Ramada Express International Rally USA. The winding dual-course SuperStage® of approximately 1.5 miles is held in the special-events arena in Laughlin. First created for the 1998 event debut, the SuperStage® brings full rally action directly to the public. The Sunday short-course stages often make or break a team's finishing record, since one small error in driver judgment can trap the car in the berm or lose precious seconds in the corners.
Top four teams consistently swapped fastest times, with Verdier/Walker (4, PGT) grabbing fastest of the day on stage 14 with 1:26. Bad luck followed, Milos/Milos (42,Production) and Freehill/Elliott (10, Open) resulting in some maximum stage scores.
Sunset skies provided a dramatic backdrop to the champagne ceremony following the completion of the seventh Ramada Express International Rally USA. Title sponsor, the Ramada Express H0tel-Casino hosted a full Ceremony Dinner at the Sunday evening Awards Gala. Guest speaker was Mr. David Sutton, from England. Mr. Sutton is widely recognized for his rally accomplishments both past and present, and as the only private team to win a World Rally Championship series.
The Ramada Express International Rally USA is currently scheduled as the final event for the 2005 United States Rally Championship, sanctioned for FIA-listing by the United States Auto Club (USAC), with regional levels through National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Rally Sport.