O'Sullivan third at Wild West; clinches second overall in Driver's Championship. On Saturday, the 2003 Wild West ProRally in Olympia, Washington began amid extremely dry conditions. Race organizers decided to cancel all afternoon stages due to...
O'Sullivan third at Wild West; clinches second overall in Driver's Championship.
On Saturday, the 2003 Wild West ProRally in Olympia, Washington began amid extremely dry conditions. Race organizers decided to cancel all afternoon stages due to high forest fire danger, and with the cancellations came an eight hour break for the racers. Rain late on Saturday and early Sunday helped the rally return to a normal schedule on Sunday afternoon.
An unfortunate set of circumstances forced 2003 Overall Drivers' Champion David Higgins and Daniel Barritt from the race early on Day 1. Barritt, suffering from a viral infection, was physically unable to continue safely navigating and the team withdrew from the competition. Higgins noted, "carrying on would have risked damaging the car and damaging ourselves."
Barritt was suffering, and even though his heart is 100% in the team, he could not physically cope with the event. A rally co-driver and a driver have a special bond. It can not be broken or replaced with a substitute. The relationship these two share in the car takes years to develop, and can not be replaced on a whim, thus forcing the retirement
With Higgins out of the race, all attention turned to Lauchlin O'Sullivan and Christian Edstrom. At stake was second place in the 2003 Driver's Championship. O'Sullivan's main competition had all season been Tim O'Neil. Their rivalry had been building which kept pressure and excitement on the two teams.
An unfortunate mechanical problem forced O'Neil from the race late Saturday. This opened up the opportunity for O'Sullivan to lock up second place in the Championship, provided that he finish third overall or better. He responded like a true champion; driving well all day and placing third. Congratulations go out to Lauchlin O'Sullivan who has done an outstanding job all year and will finish the year as the top ranked American driver in the ProRally Championship.
Christian Edstrom is due much of the credit for this result as well. His persistent professional manner never allowed O'Sullivan to stray from his focus. Undoubtedly, this young pair has a strong bond in the car, and it is apparent in their results.
Said Edstrom, "It feels gratifying to be able to help him get second in the Driver's Championship. I think that's what really mattered this weekend. We had to drive a smart race today for Lauchlin to claim his spot in the 2003 ProRally record books."
Another result still looming is second place overall in the Co-Driver's Championship for Edstrom. At the final event in Michigan, O'Sullivan and Edstrom will only need to beat O'Neil for this to become reality.
A significant challenge, but Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America is confident and ready. Looking back on the team's performance and results in their first season in the US Championship, the advantage rides with the number six Lancer Evolution.