Olympia, Wash. -- By early afternoon, a total of only 29 stage miles had been run over the first two special stages. But as cars came back to service, some bruised, before the start of the drought imposed afternoon break, it might as well have...
Olympia, Wash. -- By early afternoon, a total of only 29 stage miles had been run over the first two special stages. But as cars came back to service, some bruised, before the start of the drought imposed afternoon break, it might as well have been a full rally. Pasi Hagstr0x00f6m, running for Subaru Rally Team USA in his first US rally ever, avoided any mishaps Saturday morning and leads overall by a sizable margin. Unofficially, he is currently on top by over a minute.
2003 Manufacturer Overall Champion Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America had a rough start as its top team, David Higgins and co-driver Daniel Barritt, retired just six miles into the start of the 22-mile SS2. The decision to retire came after Barritt, who had been battling the flu for days leading up to the event, became ill once more.
"If we were still in a fight for the Championship, he'd definitely be in there and we'd still be going," said Higgins. "But we aren't in a fight anymore and so we just called it. It's just one of those things." Lauchlin O'Sullivan, Higgins' teammate, broke his left-front fender and left lamp after smacking a tree. Even with the early troubles, he was able to continue and is currently in second.
Team Subaru didn't make it out of the morning without some problems of its own. Ramana Lagemann, who has given solid efforts in the past two rallies, drove SS2 with only 50 percent power.
"I checked all of the terminal signs and didn't see anything wrong," said Lagemann. "We found out later it was electrical as a coil had gotten loose and fallen out. We got it fixed and hopefully we'll be able to make up some time even though it's a short rally."
In the Air Force Reserve Ford Focus, Tim O'Neil, with co-driver Alex Gelsomino, avoided any major problems during the morning run and came into service in fourth overall.
"We had to replace a couple of struts after I had to do some pretty good mechanic work out on stage," said O'Neil. "I had to tighten one of them back up or it would've come off completely and we would have been done."
Rain and cooler temperatures are still forecast for later on tonight and tomorrow for coastal and inland areas. At this time, however, Wild West organizers are still uncertain as to Sunday's schedule.
The Wild West International rally is scheduled to pick back up shortly after 7:00 p.m. and run three stages this evening.
-scca pro rally-