ProRally: Cherokee Trails - start order and late news

14 March, 2001 Start Order & Late Breaking News: SCCA ProRally Championship Round 2 - Cherokee Trails Chattanooga TN: The first FIA Internationally listed SCCA ProRally Championship event in over a decade starts tomorrow morning with ...

14 March, 2001
Start Order & Late Breaking News: SCCA ProRally Championship Round 2 - Cherokee Trails

Chattanooga TN: The first FIA Internationally listed SCCA ProRally Championship event in over a decade starts tomorrow morning with an impressive field of manufacturer supported and top independently entered performance rally cars from the US, Canada and abroad. The Rally starts at 9:00 AM Thursday morning, at the Tennessee Aquarium in downtown Chattanooga.

Selected late entries, news

* The highly anticipated arrival of the first three-car team in many years will have to wait until next months Oregon Trail event. The Knight Racing independent Subaru team's transport left their trio of 2000 Impreza's stranded late yesterday, and repairs to their rig were impossible to get completed by the close of Scrutineering this afternoon. Team boss Tom Ryther stated "We are very disappointed that we will not be competing at the Cherokee Trails ProRally, as it has all the makings of a WRC event." The team's innovative Impreza's will debut at Oregon Trail with some interesting new hardware under the hoods of Ryther's and Peterson's Imprezas - the cars will have automatic transmissions, designed specifically to deal with the high torque and horsepower of their turbo-charged and intercooled 2.5 litre engines.

* Season and New Championship Debuts for many teams are occurring this week: at the top of the lists: Making his SCCA ProRally Championship debut is 2000 Pikes Peak stock category champion Rhys Millen, and his Mitsubishi Motor Sales America backed 2000 Lancer Evo 6.5. Returning for 2001 are George Plsek and Alex Gelsomino in a completely rebuilt Audi S2, and young British rally aces Richard Tuthill and John Bennie will make their United States debut in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV, supported by Julian Masters. Who is Masters? Was the car owner than introduced international road-racing legend Erik Comas to the world of Performance Rallying at Oregon Trail last year, finishing 4th overall at that event. Will history repeat itself?

* Following today's well attended press/shakedown stage, Tuthill/Bennie and the Round 1 Sno*Drift podium finishing duo of Seamus Burke and Frank Cunningham are looking like the two to watch for dark horse top podium finishes. Fast and consistent, with reliable chariots, both teams bring well-honed international level rallying skills to this event. Tuthill is an unknown here - but has an impressive win sheet back in the UK, and Burke has been a man on a mission over the last season, with a steadily improving finish history, and regular equipment upgrades.

* Luckless Noel Lawler suffered yet another setback yesterday pre-event - equipment checks revealed a leaking head gasket and a warped head on his freshly rebuilt and just run-in Hyundai Tiburon engine - and a service crew frantically scrambling to rebuild the top end before the close of Scrutineering tonight. The back-up plan: well-placed but un-confirmed pit-lane rumors indicate that Lawler will start in team boss John Buffum's Tiburon should Lawler's motor not be up to snuff at daybreak.

* Weather forecast: The forecast for this weeks 3-day rally: something reminiscent of last weeks Rally Portugal - soggy weather with thunderstorms likely tomorrow, then easing off to partly cloudy conditions for the balance of the event. Highs tomorrow around 62f/17c, with similar temps for Friday and Saturday.

-SCCA-

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Series SCCA
Drivers Alex Gelsomino , Richard Tuthill , John Bennie , Seamus Burke , Rhys Millen , Erik Comas , John Buffum