"VICTORY IN NEW YORK!"
The battle that went all the way across the United States to the 2008 International Rally New York is over. Tied for USRC points with Hampton Bridwell and Josh Katinger going into the rally, the Rallynotes Team completed a mission that started over two thousand miles away in Southern California. To keep pace with their rivals in a more powerful SVT Ford Focus, the team in the Dodge Rally Neon would have to be at their best.
After four very fast stages on Friday morning, just two seconds separated the top two Production 2WD teams. This meant the pace would continue on to the rougher and muddier stages of the day. A mistake on stage five by the Ford Focus team caused them to slide sideways off the road, getting stuck and losing over two minutes. The Rallynotes Team would capitalize on this error and continue to run fast and clean stages. On stage seven the team had their only mistake of the weekend, overshooting a left turn causing them to lose roughly ten seconds of the gap.
On Saturday morning the Rallynotes Team lead was down to just over one minute. The strategy for the day was to keep the pressure on and attack at 100%. The road for the stages was a long uphill section followed by a short downhill run in one direction and a short uphill section followed by a long downhill the other way. "I was surprised we were just as fast on the downhill. The Focus could only make up time on the uphill stages and we were both driving at an incredible pace." explains Driver Kristopher Marciniak. "I watched the gap become 1:14 and then 58 seconds. The SVT Focus really pulls going uphill, it was going to be close. Fast and perfect are not two things that come easy at a rally."
With two stages and the super special left to go. Hampton and Josh slid off a right hand turn and rolled the Focus with no harm to themselves. The USRC Production 2WD champions would be Kristopher and Christine Marciniak in their Dodge Neon for the third year in a row. Because of the ridiculous pace set by both teams, the Rallynotes Team won 2WD overall in the rally and 7th overall for the event -- by far their best showing.
"We want to wish the best of luck to Hampton and Josh, without their competition we wouldn't have won in 2WD overall." said Kris. Congratulations go out to 2nd place Dan Brosnan & Shane McCann (Nissan Sentra) and 3rd place, father-son team of Simon and Kieran Wright (Ford Focus) who celebrated along with Kris and Christine Marciniak at the two wheel drive champagne ceremony at the conclusion of the rally. As Co-Driver Christine Marciniak mentioned at the awards ceremony - "We want to thank all the East Coast teams for embracing us -- even though this is no longer our home area, it is where we grew up, so that was just awesome. We also want to thank all our friends and family who came out just to cheer us on!"
Congratulations to the overall winner of International Rally New York 2008 Seamus and Joseph Burke. Congratulations to USRC winners Brian Scott and John Dillon (Open 4WD), Jimmy & Melissa Keeney (Production 4WD), and Bruce Davis & Jimmy Brandt (Open 2WD). The USRC is a great national championship that gave us the ability to come across the country and defend our title. Truly supporting EVERY class, the United States Rally Championship is really an affordable and realistic championship series for rally in North America!
The team would like to thank the following people for without whom this win would not have been possible: Nathan Snitko, Matt Malloy, Craig Symonds, and Tyson Derby -- for coming out as volunteer crew members; Joyce and Don Wittish -- for their financial support and enthusiasm; and also Korey Marciniak, Ian Bowers, Andrew Hobgood, Sabrina Vollers, and Bill and Valerie Foskey -- for coming out to cheer us on in our debut East Coast event. "We would like to thank all the organizers, volunteers, and workers for all the rallies this year. Without dedicated people, we could not go out there and have this much fun. See you next year!" -- Kris & Christine