BEMIDJI, Minnesota Day one of the 2002 Ojibwe Forests Rally proved to be one of the most unique of the season, with surprisingly cool weather turning cold and very wet in the night. Retirements abounded, with the dark forests claiming both ...
BEMIDJI, Minnesota Day one of the 2002 Ojibwe Forests Rally proved to be one of the most unique of the season, with surprisingly cool weather turning cold and very wet in the night. Retirements abounded, with the dark forests claiming both Championship leaders and local favorites. Finally leading a rally - Mark Higgins and substitute co-driver Claire Mole have a solid, commanding position entering day 2, leading the rally over brother and Championship points leader David Higgins by just over one minute.
Key Notes: * Getting to the front wasn't easy for Mark Higgins, who has had more than his share of challenges during his first season of SCCA ProRallying, with brake problems early in the stages, and running out of fuel at the end of SS4.
* Rhys Millen, whose hopes were so high coming into Ojibwe after his respectable showing at Maine Forest, was the first casualty of the day, having a huge off about 3 miles into SS1 while rebounding from a full throttle series of jumps. Both Millen and co-driver Cowan are fine, but the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII is a write-off.
* Mark Lovell, coming off two convincing wins at Pikes Peak and Maine Forest, was off to a solid start in the early stages, taking the lead after SS3. Leaving the mid-evening service, the weather turned very foul, and like all teams was using all his lighting to find his way through the torrential downpour. An electrical fault occurred, and the battery went dead shortly thereafter, ending his rally.
* UK visitors John Lloyd and Pauline Gullick got themselves high-centered on a berm during one of the downpours, and were unable to get a tug out of the mire before being time-barred from the event.
* Tim O'Neil leads Group N and is one of the fields fastest risers, coming from a 21st on the road starting position to hold onto 5th overall at the end of Day One. The wet weather suited the Group N contingent well, with just one retirement in the class (newcomer Jerry Churchill #588) and many of the group posting significant road position gains (11 places for Brendan Cunningham #31, 16 positions for Shane Mitchell #45, and a remarkable 23 positions for Ron Nelson #432).
* Lauchlin O'Sullivan is in control of the Group 2 competition, with a nearly one-minute lead over local favorite Robert Nielsen. Drivers and Manufacturers Championship runner-up Eric Burmeister, no stranger to Ojibwe Forests, is out of the event, after striking a rock and destroying a wheel and front axle on his Mazda Protege, and ending his mathematical chances for a year-end podium.
* Who would have thought Production Class would be a "Battle of the Sexes?" Michael Halley and David Weiman lead Production class, in the "Stud Bug" by a healthy four and a half-minute margin over the 2nd place all-girl team of Jamie Thomas and Tina Lengacher. Weiman, who normally co-drives for Jeff Field, was without a ride following his big shunt with Field at Maine Forest in July, and secured the co-drive with Halley just prior to Ojibwe. A solid finish for Weiman is critical for his Production class championship chances over second place in points co-driver Ken Sabo. Regardless of how this weekend comes out, Weiman is still a winner in one battle: he will be co-driving for Thomas at Wild West.