USRC: Laughlin season finale summary

LAUGHLIN, Nevada -- November 11 --The tenth running of the Laughlin International Rally, the final round of the 2007 United States Rally Championship finished up at the Laughlin Special Event Center here late Sunday afternoon , and Todd ...

LAUGHLIN, Nevada -- November 11 --The tenth running of the Laughlin International Rally, the final round of the 2007 United States Rally Championship finished up at the Laughlin Special Event Center here late Sunday afternoon , and Todd Moberly/Raymond Moberly from Colorado Springs, Colo. have won the event for the second year in a row in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI

The Moberly's, who won five of the nine stages on the high-speed desert roads, were victorious by more than three minutes over Wyeth Gubelmann/Natalie Richard, in a similar Subaru Impreza. Third, another minute back, was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII of Wolfgang Hoeck/Piers O'Hanlon. All three of the top finishers were driving turbocharged, four-wheel drive vehicles.

Winner of the two-wheel-drive class and fourth overall was the Ford F-150 truck of Bill Holmes/Kevin Carter. Looking more like a baja racer than the sports cars he was competing against, Holmes' truck won its class by more than seven minutes over the Volvo of Bill Malik/Christofer Edstrom. Malik, a Volvo service manager from Southern California, was in third place in class behind the Nissan Sentra of George Doganis/Thomas Smith by less than two second, but passed Doganis on the last four in-town, closed course stages to gain second place by eight seconds.

In the Laughlin International Rally, the cars raced one-at-a-time against the clock on closed desert roads -- each time trial is called a stage - in the Grand Canyon/Colorado River region, with the cars recording the lowest total elapsed time at the end of the event being the winners in each class. The co-driver, who sits in the passenger seat, has stage notes which guide the team through the course turn-by-turn, and has a rally computer to aid him or her by keeping track of mileage intervals and elapsed time. The driver will go as fast as he or she can -- no speed limits -- with coaching from the co-driver describing the road configuration ahead.

The drivers meet their crew at service areas every couple of stages for service on the cars, and drivers must obey all local traffic regulations when their cars are not actually driving on the closed stage road. Unlike traditional racetrack driving, where repetition on the same course can lead to the "best line" or "best setup" for each corner, rally drivers must react to blind conditions at racetrack speed.

This event was sanctioned by the United States Auto Club (USAC) and presented by the National Auto Sports Association (NASA). Parts of the event count for points in the Western States Rally Championship (WSRC) and the California Rally Series (CRS) as well. The event is organized by the American Rally Sport Group, Inc. The rally will cover 500 miles including 120 racing stage miles and 12 stages.

For the season-end United States Rally Championship, the overall winners were no longer running when the rally ended, but they had enough points accumulated during the season to walk off with the trophies.

Irishman Celcus Donnelly, now living in Bronx, NY, along with co-driver Noel Gallagher, from Ireland, had their engine let go on the first competitive stage on Friday in their Mitsubishi Lancer 8. With their exit from the rally, Donnelly/Gallagher lost their chance to make up the 25-point deficit they had to the leaders Seamus Burke (another Irishman now living in Powder Springs, GA) and co-driver Eddie Fries (Yonkers, NY). Burke won the championship last year by finishing fifth overall at Laughlin.

With the pressure off and the championship clinched, it seemed that Burke could just cruise on the roads along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but only 45 minutes later, Burke was also out of the rally as he rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer 9 and could not continue.

In the 2WD class, Joshua Wimpey/Jeremy Wimpey, from Harrisonburg, VA, in their Golf GT, also did not finish the rally, losing their engine during yesterday's stages, but they also had enough points to clinch their first United States Rally Championship title as rookies of the year. The Wimpey's were running second in class behind Holmes when they retired last night after the SuperStage in Laughlin. Holmes and Carter, with their decisive win, took the series crown in 2WD.

Several other teams were in contention during the rally, but either mechanical failures or off-the-road mishaps caused them to retire. The George Plsek/Jeff Burmeister Mitsubishi, which won stage four, had moved into second place yesterday when he had a flat tire on stage eight. The team decided to try to make it to the service area by running on the flat rather than losing time by changing it on the stage, and the gamble did not pay off, as the tire delaminated, causing the wheel to explode and tearing up the brakes and suspension.

The Carl Jardevall/Amity Trowbridge Mitsubishi also had a flat, but stopped to change it on the stage. This caused them to lose nine minutes to the field, and moved them from third place to seventh, and that's where they finished. Jardevall had won stage seven yesterday afternoon.

37 cars and four motorcycles started the rally -- the motorcycles ran as the rally organizers had their first taste of the new Rally Moto class -- and 19 cars and all four motorcycles finished the event. Todd Davis in a BMW motorcycle won the Rally Moto class. <pre> Final Results -- Laughlin International Rally finishers

(Finishing position, car number, driver/co-driver, car, elapsed time)

1, 1, Todd Moberly/Raymond Moberly, Subaru WRX STI, 1:46:47

2, 6, Wyeth Gublemann/Nathalie Richard, Subaru Impreza WRX, 1:49:55

3, 5, Wolfgang Hoeck/Piers O'Hanlon, Mitsubishi Evo 7, 1:50:54

4, 9, Bill Holmes/Kevin Carter, Ford Pickup, 1:54:35

5, 26 Mitchell Williams/Brian Moody, Subaru Impreza, 1:59:09

6, 10 Michael O'Leary/John O'Leary, Mitsubishi Evo 4,2:00:04

7, 11 Carl Jardevall/Amity Trowbridge, Mitsubishi Evo 8, 2:01:37

8, 13 Bill Malik/Christofer Edstrom, Volvo, 2:02:08

9, 16 George Doganis/Thomas Smith, Nissan Sentra SE-R, 2:02:16

10,18 Roger Loeffers/Colin Deere, Subaru Impreza, 2:03:19

11,49 Todd Davis (Rally Moto), BMW motorcycle, 2:06:40

12,19 Larry Gross/Miles Sandidge, Toyota Corolla, 2:07:59

13,24 Chrissie Beavis/Terry Stonecipher, VW Jetta, 2:09:49

14,30 Kristopher Marciniak/Chris Marciniak, Dodge Neon, 2:13:31

15,28 Scott McKinney/John Giannattasio, Eagle Talon, 2:14:00

16,41 Dick Rockrohr/Marie Jacobs, Subaru Impreza, 2:14:05

17,40 John Conley/Steven Treml, Dodge SRT, 2:14:40

18,37 Kevin Welker/Nolan Sambrano, Subaru Impreza, 2:20:53

19,36 Chuck Wilson/Jimmy Brandt, Nissan Pickup, 2:20:53

20,50 Mike Masano (Rally Moto), Husqvarna, 2:22:06

21,47 Allan Krebs/Rally Moto, KTM 640 Adventure, 2:42:35

22,39 Scott Clark/Marie Boyd, Subaru WRX, 2:46:54

23,48 Michelle Wells (Rally Moto), BMW F650GS, 3:45:10

-credit: usrc/as

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