TOPEKA, Kan. (Aug. 19, 2003) - The SCCA ProRally Championship stays up north, moving from Maine to Minnesota this weekend for the Ojibwe Forests SCCA ProRally. An impressive field of performance rally cars and drivers from across North America and overseas will compete on the fast and smooth (but often sandy) state forest (Paul Bunyan, Two Inlets, Smokey Hills and White Earth) roads in the upper reaches of north-central Minnesota. This performance rally event is sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The SCCA ProRally Championship is presented by Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Subaru of America and the Air Force Reserve. The Ojibwe Forests Rally is presented locally by Luther Subaru of Bloomington.
When & Where:
August 22-23, 2003; Bemidji, Minn.; approximately 180 miles northwest of Minneapolis, Minn.
Complete Event Schedule: (subject to change)
Wednesday, 20 August, 2003
6:00 PM -- 9:00 PM
RallyFest (presented by Luther Acura Subaru of Bloomington), Bloomington Minn.
Friday, 22 August, 2003
9:00 AM -- 4:00 PM
Scrutineering -- Northwest Technical College 905 Grant Ave. SE, Bemidji, MN
5:30 PM -- 11:40 PM
Leg 1: Ojibwe Forests ProRally & Paul Bunyan's Ride ClubRally
Approx. 1:00 AM -- 3:00 AM
Pizza Party and posting of Leg 1 provisional scores.
Saturday, 23 August, 2003
12:00 PM -- 12:00 AM
Leg 2: Ojibwe Forests ProRally & 10,000 Lakes ClubRally
Approx. 9:00 PM -- 2:00 AM
Awards Party and Scores -- Northern Inn
Who to watch this weekend:
* Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America driver David Higgins leads the John Woolf Cup standings with 158 points currently. If Higgins can manage a repeat of last year, when he finished runner-up to his brother Mark, or secure any spot on the podium, he will win his second-consecutive Woolf Cup Championship.
* Lauchlin O'Sullivan is second behind his teammate (Higgins) in the point standings. It has been a steady and solid year for the first-year member of Team Mitsubishi, with three podium finishes on the season, including the last two events -- Oregon Trail and Maine Forest, respectively.
* Ramana Lagemann continues his search for a win this season as part of Subaru Rally Team USA. After battling a flat tire and eventual rolled car early on, Lagemann showed major fortitude in scratching his way back from 54th to a 13th-place finish.
* Air Force Reserve driver Tim O'Neil sits just behind O'Sullivan in third place in the standings. Down 58-46 currently, if O'Neil continues to battle with O'Sullivan in the same manner the pair did at Maine, one slip by O'Sullivan could mean a spot in the runner-up position for O'Neil with two events remaining. O'Neil had a string of four-straight podium finishes snapped when he went off-course during the second day of action at Maine.
* FIA Group N points leader Mark Utecht will have a chance to run in his "back yard" this weekend. The Stacy, Minn. native currently has a six-point advantage (32-26) over Shane Mitchell, who did not earn any points at Maine after suspension problems knocked him out of the rally.
* Eric Burmeister enters the weekend as current leader in the Woodner Cup (top overall 2WD driver). He sits just three points ahead of Christopher Whiteman, who is entered in the race as well.
* Production GT has a tight battle going on as well, with Bruce Davis slightly ahead of Valdemaras Maciukevicius, 57-54. Both men are entered for this rally, meaning that neither one can afford to falter with only three events remaining.
* Brian Vinson and Doug Shepherd continue their intense pursuit of the Group 5 class crown. Vinson holds a 48-46 lead over Shepherd currently. Shepherd stormed to the top of the field with two consecutive first-place class finishes in the last two events. Vinson did not run at Oregon Trail and finished second at Maine behind Shepherd, which was good enough to maintain his lead for the time being.
* In the Roy Donison Cup (top Production class driver), Mike Halley returns to action following a short layoff during Maine. Halley holds a comfortable lead in the race for the Cup, leading Trevor Donison (son of the cup's namesake) 45-23.
Additional news interest:
* Things can't get much tighter than they are right now in the Woodner Cup standings as five different drivers are all within 15 points of each other. While Burmeister leads currently, Whiteman is only three behind him and Scott Fuller, Brain Scott and Shepherd are at 45, 44 and 41 points, respectively.
* Temperatures are expected to cool significantly this weekend after the area has been baking in temperatures from 95 to 100 degrees. Rain is forecast for the first part of the week but should move out and give way to partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the 70s during the day and upper 50s during the nighttime hours over the weekend.
* While temperatures will be cooler, the forests and lakes of the area will provide an abundant supply of mosquitoes. West Nile Virus is a potential concern and spectators and press are advised to dress with long sleeves and pants, and be sure to use plenty of insect repellent.
This rally is a full points SCCA ProRally Championship event. Drivers earn points toward the national championship, and supporting manufacturers (Subaru, Dodge, Mazda and Mitsubishi) earn points toward overall and class Manufacturers' Championships.
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