Mind Games: Competition for ProRally Teams Starts Well Before First Stage BEMIDJI, Minn. (Aug. 26, 2004) -- Several times this year, overall entry lists preceding a few rounds of the SCCA ProRally Championship have seemed a bit light. But...
Competition for ProRally Teams Starts Well Before First Stage
BEMIDJI, Minn. (Aug. 26, 2004) -- Several times this year, overall entry lists preceding a few rounds of the SCCA ProRally Championship have seemed a bit light. But when the time rolled around for drivers and co-drivers to head out on stage, the field that took to the stages was much larger.
Competitors' reasons for this vary, ranging from last-minute changes in plans to last-minute dollars coming in. However, sometimes a late entry has had nothing to do with a physical reason. Instead, it was simply a competitor biding his time, trying to play a mind game with his opponents.
"I was planning on being at Ojibwe [Forests] all along," said current Open class drivers point leader Leon Styles, who didn't enter until early this week. "We were just playing with Pat Richard and some others to see if we could gain a mental advantage by making them think we weren't going to be here."
Styles, who won his first ProRally event ever earlier this year at Pikes Peak and trails only Richard in the Overall Drivers point Championship, entered this weekend's Ojibwe Forests ProRally, the seventh round of the 2004 Championship, late enough that even the official event web site did not have him or co-driver John Dillon listed as an official entry as of last Monday.
"We've used mind games before, at an event in California, and it worked, so we did it again this time for Ojibwe," Styles said. "We tried to fool Richard into thinking I wasn't going to be here to see if that affected his team's preparation and to see if we could get an advantage."
It could be argued that if Styles wasn't trying to psyche out other teams, he might just be superstitious. Entering late has almost become fashionably cliche this year as many teams who showed up late went on to do well. Even Richard's own Rocket Rally effort waited until as late as the day before the Susquehannock Trail ProRally to join, where he and co-driving sister Nathalie finished second.
Whatever the case may be, the goal remains the same; winning a championship. Richard, after claiming the Group N title last round at Maine Forest, is in position to take the Overall Championship with another good run.
Styles is hoping to wrap up the Open Class Championship and make up some ground on Richard in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution after some mechanical trouble left him back in the pack last round.
And if either of these two falters, several other entries (including Tom Lawless, John Lloyd, Lauchlin O'Sullivan and others) are poised to grab the top spot.
Let the games begin.
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