RAmer: Widget Rally Team Olympus Rally summary

Twin Victories in Washington First-time Partnership for Hintz and Dillon Yields Top Results Shelton, WA. Dave Hintz (Enumclaw, WA) and John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA) of the Perforce Software Widget Rally Team earned a brace of trophies at the...

Twin Victories in Washington
First-time Partnership for Hintz and Dillon Yields Top Results

Shelton, WA. Dave Hintz (Enumclaw, WA) and John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA) of the Perforce Software Widget Rally Team earned a brace of trophies at the Olympus International Rally, winning both the John Nagel Dryad Quest Rally and the Gene Nielsen Shitepoke Rally. Both were regional rallies run concurrently with Olympus (part of the Rally-America national championship) on 19-20 May 2007. Hintz, who normally races with his brother Rick, needed a new codriver when Rick volunteered for duty overseas. Hintz drives a Subaru WRX prepared by Doug Chase at Chase Race Engineering and Eric Eaton at Frantic Four.

Unusual for a U.S. rally, the event started with a "Notes Familiarization Pass" (NFP) that allowed them to reconnoiter the stage roads one time before the rally started. (Most American rallies are blind, with no reconnaisance allowed.) The NFP gave them a chance to not only review the roads, but to get a chance to work together in a car before strapping on their helmets in competition.

Said the codriver, "Dave and I discovered during recce that we have a similar approach to rallying. Though we're both very competitive, we focus on safety and having fun, preferring to drive our own race instead of the other guy's. Some may say that it's us *against* the conditions on stage, but I prefer to think of it as us working *with* the elements to achieve maximum performance."

The driver described some of the challenges the team faced on the weekend. "We endured a flat tire early on Saturday, electing to drive it out rather than change it. Fortunately it was the left rear so we didn't damage the car, but when we changed it during the transit stage, the car slipped off the jack. Fortunately we had the new tire underneath the car for safety, so we were able to get it all sorted out quickly."

The team's troubles returned on Sunday. During the first running of Nahwatzel, a bolt worked loose in the rear suspension, causing the back end to dance around. "With over a dozen stage miles left, I thought seriously about stopping to find the problem, but I realized that I still had control of the car," reported Hintz. "Now I'm glad we kept going."

Despite the short service time allotted, crew chief Doug Chase and his assistant Alan Frazier found and repaired the problem without delays, but their toughest assignment had not yet arrived.

"On stage 14, called Biosolids Blvd, we hit a huge rock in the apex of a right-hander," explained Dillon. "The impact launched the car into the air, threw the passenger side airbag cover into Dave's face, which is ironic because airbags are actually removed from rally cars for safety! The hard hit also jammed the right front tire into the fender. It's amazing that Dave was able to keep his speed up--and that the tire held air--for the last two miles of the stage. When we studied the damage while awaiting a regroup control, we realized we'd broken an A-arm."

In a show of sportsmanship common in the rally community, fellow competitor Paul Eklund offered the team one of his spares. When the Subaru pulled into its pit space, Chase and Frazier had to scramble to replace the broken suspension. A recalcitrant bolt slowed the repair job, such that Hintz and Dillon checked out of the control zone eight minutes late which cost them a minute and twenty seconds of penalty time. Just like that, they'd gone from a 30 second lead to a 50 second deficit, with only one stage remaining, the second running of the 25-mile-long Nahwatzel.

"I thought Dave could make up the difference, but the rain had gotten heavy and we'd been warned by the organizers of heavy mud puddles on the stage, so conditions were treacherous," described Dillon. "Dave attacked the stage with flawless driving, hammering hard into every corner. We caught and passed Wolfgang [Hoeck] just eight miles into it, so I knew we were making great time. The question remained though, whether Paul had also pulled out all the stops."

At the end, however, the score sheets showed that Hintz and Dillon had won their second victory of the weekend, finishing over fifteen seconds ahead of Eklund.

"I was just keeping the seat warm until Rick gets back," quipped Dillon at the awards banquet. "We're all anxious for him to come back from Iraq safe and sound."

Hintz will take the summer off from rallying, while Dillon heads to the Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally on 2 June 2007 to codrive for Andrew Havas.

-credit: wrt

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Series Other rally
Drivers Paul Eklund