COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado Chris Havas is no stranger to competing in hill climbs, having run the Mount Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire many times. However, this was his first occasion to test the renowned Falken Tires Pikes Peak ...
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado Chris Havas is no stranger to competing in hill climbs, having run the Mount Washington Hill Climb in New Hampshire many times. However, this was his first occasion to test the renowned Falken Tires Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. Havas and co-driver Dave Kean put in a respectable time with their Metalmarks VW Golf, but not good enough to challenge class winner Doug Shepherd's Dodge SRT-4. The teams were a part of the Sports Car Club of America ProRally category at this year's Pikes Peak.
"It was really a learning year for us," said team driver and owner, Chris Havas. "We learned that we could turn up the turbo boost for more horsepower, and that the road is smoother than I had anticipated so I would use different tires and lower the car a little. Shepherd really had the advantage over us as he has competed at Pikes Peak in the past and had a good handle on getting the most out of his car."
Both Havas and Shepherd compete in the Group 5 category on the SCCA ProRally Championship circuit. Pikes Peak was a demonstration only class for two-wheel drive rally cars this year, with no points awarded. All two-wheel drive classes were lumped into the one class for Pikes Peak.
"We found some similarities in the way Pikes Peak and Mount Washington are run," said Havas. "Both courses are also a mixture of pavement and unpaved, but Pikes Peak is more consistently hard-packed dirt. That makes the setup a little easier. Some corners are so hard packed that they become polished with tire rubber and traction changes dramatically in those areas. Our crew chief has already come up with quite a few ideas as to how we can be more competitive next year."
The Metalmarks rally steed is a current chassis VW Golf with a 1.8-liter turbo engine. The SCCA rules allow for modification so Havas has built a custom fully independent rear suspension for the car. "The new suspension seems to be working well," said Havas. "There was evidence of some bending after the rough roads at Rim of the World so I added some reinforcement. It's hard to know if it's any better for handling, but it is considerably stronger, plus it weighs less than stock."
Pikes Peak was only the fifth time the Metalmarks VW has tasted competition. Havas and Kean took the VW to a Group 5 victory at the Susquehannock Trails ProRally in Pennsylvania early in June. They were also class winners at the car's debut run last season at the Maine Forest ProRally.
The next event on the Metalmarks Rally Team schedule is the Oregon Trail ProRally on July 12-13. The team had their car hauled directly from Colorado to Oregon rather than tow it all the way back to their home base in Burlington, Vermont.