Richard Leads After Day One, Needs Second to Clinch First SCCA Overall Point Championship STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept 25, 2004) -- Thanks to uncertain road conditions on unusually straight stages, several SCCA ProRally teams set fast stage...
Richard Leads After Day One,
Needs Second to Clinch First SCCA Overall Point Championship
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (Sept 25, 2004) -- Thanks to uncertain road conditions on unusually straight stages, several SCCA ProRally teams set fast stage times during the first day of the Colorado Cog ProRally, Round Eight of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®. But when the dust settled after the first eight stages, a familiar pair of names emerged on top as Pat and Nathalie Richard lead the field by 23 seconds heading into the final day.
Event organizers began Saturday warning competitors about potentially slippery conditions as rain had blanketed parts of the area the night before. However, after Special Stage One, the fast, flowing roads turned out to be nearly ideal, allowing for quick stage times and a jumbled leader board behind Richard.
"The first stage was sort of slippery but nothing crazy," Pat Richard said. "I think it's great that we see more people on the leader board. There are a couple of things that lent themselves to that happening, one of those being the altitude of the stages.
"They're all running between 7000 and 9000 feet and that's allowing some of the guys with the quicker Open class cars, like Peter [Workum] and Doug [Havir], to win some stages and Doug Shepherd in Group 5 took a stage as well."
Richard won the opening stage of the event, but then fell back as current Open class leaders Peter Workum and co-driver Alex Gelsomino won SS3 by eight seconds over the Richards and Doug Havir, with co-driver Scott Putnam, took Super Special Stage Four honors by 0.9-sec. over Richard.
A second-place finish is all that Richard needs to clinch his first SCCA Overall Drivers Point Championship, which would give the Canadian his second title in the past month as he wrapped up the Canadian title three weeks ago.
With the lead, is a conservative driving effort on tap for Sunday? Not if Saturday was any proof.
"We got to service and I saw us sitting in third," Richard said. "I started thinking and said, 'I don't know if I like that too much.' So we pushed a little harder on the next stages and then throttled back a bit."
Workum/Gelsomino were first on the road for Cog after drawing the slot in the duo's first-ever participation in the seeded draw prior to the event. While roads were a concern starting out, Gelsomino said that his driver handled the conditions nearly flawlessly.
"It has been a good day," Gelsomino said. "The car was perfect, which was a big help, and a lot of praise goes to Peter as well. He's improved with each event from our first event together at Rim of the World this year and he made it into the draw, which is good."
As much credit as Gelsomino gave his driver, he said much of the improvement for Cog might have been due to an idea Workum had for improving preparation and communication between the pair while on stage.
"We found a new system with the stage notes after Ojibwe that we thought would help cut down with some of the inconsistencies in our times," Gelsomino said. "We literally broke down each piece of the notes, every corner, everything, and it gave us a clear idea of what that stage is. It's an improvement over what we had been doing in the past and I think it's showing the benefit of doing it that way."
With seven stages remaining, the Richards lead Group N comfortably by more than two minutes over sixth-overall Wyeth Gubelmann and co-driver Therin Pace, both of whom are from Colorado. Just behind them, Mark Utecht and co-driver Jeff Secor are coming off of a third-place finish overall at Ojibwe, their best ProRally showing ever, and currently sit third in Group N, seventh overall.
Leon Styles, with co-driver John Dillon, began the weekend second in the Driver's Point Championship race behind Richard and is fourth overall currently, third in the Open class behind Workum/Gelsomino and Havir/Putnam.
The Mopar Dodge tandem of Doug Shepherd and co-driver Pete Gladysz turned some heads Saturday by nailing down a fast stage time in their Group 5 2004 Mopar Dodge SRT-4 on SS9, while local driver Tanner Foust, of Steamboat Springs, with co-driver Scott Crouch, came away from day one as leader by over a minute in Production GT.
Brooks Freehill, with co-driver Sean Elliot, ripped off fast times on three of the day's final four stages, pushing them into the Group 2 lead by 33 seconds over Mark Brown and co-driver Ole Holter.
The Production Class Championship was wrapped up with one event remaining as Mark Tabor and co-driver Kevin Poirier each earned a point for starting their fifth ProRally event, the required number of events for Championship eligibility.
The second and final day of Colorado Cog, Round Eight of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, is set to begin at 9 a.m. in Steamboat Springs and finish there as well at 3:41 p.m., approximately. For more information, including full ProRally standings and more, visit www.scca.com.
NOTE -- Eight of the originally scheduled nine stages were run on Saturday after event organizers made the decision to throw the second stage after they deemed the road's condition to be unsuitable for driving.
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