Widget Team Successful at Rally New York Team Scores Points in First Tarmac Rally of the Year Brian Scott (driver, Phoenix, AZ) and John Dillon (codriver, Thousand Oaks, CA) tackled the first rally in the U.S. Rally Championship series on the...
Widget Team Successful at Rally New York
Team Scores Points in First Tarmac Rally of the Year
Brian Scott (driver, Phoenix, AZ) and John Dillon (codriver, Thousand Oaks, CA) tackled the first rally in the U.S. Rally Championship series on the 7th and 8th of April, 2006, and came away from Rally New York with fifth place points in the Open 4WD class. It's one of the few U.S. rallies raced on pavement, though tarmac rallies are popular in other parts of the world, including on the World Rally Championship (WRC) circuit. The team races a Subaru WRX STi prepared by Andy Brown of Techsport Racing in Phoenix, AZ.
Scott reported that "this event posed unique challenges for the team. To begin with, I'd never done full-on on recconaissance before. Fortunately, Andy has a lot of experience from his days with a WRC team, so he came along with us as we made our pace notes. He taught us a lot about what to look for while on the roads. We ran Rally Tennessee last September, but the New York roads are quite a bit rougher so there was a learning curve there too."
Scott's codriver arrived in New York a day early to attend an advanced codriving class taught by Nicky Grist, the famous WRC codriver and Speed TV commentator. "Nicky repeatedly stressed the value of advanced planning, preparation, and attention to detail," observed Dillon. "In addition to telling us some great stories, he validated the things we do already, gave us some great tips on how to improve our game and, most importantly, taught us a lot about making pace notes. Several of the the things he described came into play this weekend."
Since the stages of the rally were paved, Brown adjusted the settings so the car would ride lower and stiffer than on a gravel event. Scott needed to adapt his driving style as well to learn how to work with the exceptional grip found in this sort of rally. The weekend before the race he took the car out to a NASA race at Firebird Raceway to get a feel for the handling offered by lower profile tires and revised suspension settings. "There's no substitute for seat time, even though track racing is rather different from rallying on asphalt," he pointed out. "I think what I learned more than anything was how phenomenal the brakes are and how well the car sticks to the road."
Mother Nature threw everyone a curve ball by holding off her rain until race day, meaning the teams had no chance to prepare for potentially slippery conditions. Scott and Dillon opted to take a conservative approach, giving up time to the competition in order to protect the car and insure a finish. They sacrificed even more time when fog rolled in late in the day, cutting visibility to less than a hundred yards at times. The next morning there was even a bit of snow falling, though none of it stuck to the road. "Our goal was to finish this race," said Scott, "so I wasn't going to risk everything just to move up a spot or two. We're racing for a championship so we've got to be smart and not take any foolish chances."
Dillon added, "With the Rim of the World Rally only three weeks away, we wanted to avoid damaging the car. We knew Techsport Racing could repair anything we broke, but we didn't need to give them any extra work at this point. Rim is our home event and one of Brian's favorites, so we can afford to be cautious this early in the season. Our goal was to score some early points towards the championship in New York, which we did, so we're delighted with the result."
About the Sport Rallying is the ultimate team motorsport where street-licensed cars are raced at high speed with two people in the car, a driver behind the wheel and a codriver describing every bend in the road. Typically in the USRC, competitors race nearly "blind," navigating from a route book provided just hours before to the event, with no practice and only a single reconnaisance run allowed on the stage roads prior to the start, but for Rally New York full-on "recce" is allowed. Cars can easily reach speeds above 100 MPH as they snake between trees and along the edges of cliffs in this extreme sport of strength and stamina.