Rumford, Maine - Enduring sprint race conditions and thick choking dust, one of the most fiercely contested SCCA ProRally Championship events in the history of the sport in the US was won today by a most deserving team of Seamus Burke and Frank ...
Rumford, Maine - Enduring sprint race conditions and thick choking dust, one of the most fiercely contested SCCA ProRally Championship events in the history of the sport in the US was won today by a most deserving team of Seamus Burke and Frank Cunningham. Piloting their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI smoothly the entire event, their nearly flawless drive allowed the pair to seize the lead in SS3 yesterday, allowing them to run clear roads the entire day, while everyone else had to deal with his dust.
Key Notes & Quotes:
* Subaru's difficult Day One didn't get much better early in Day Two, as the team dealt with a fuel contamination problem in both Karl Scheible's Group N car and Mark Lovell's brand new Open class car. "Something occurred between the fuel drums and the fuel tank - and we don't know what it was" expressed a dismayed Ed Bentley of Prodrive. Art Brown, Technical Operations Director for Sunoco Race Fuels, the official fuel of the Championship, was on-site, and is returning to the company's headquarters with several of the team's clogged fuel filters for analysis. No other team was affected.
* Mark Lovell and Steve Turvey made a daring comeback late in the day, taking advantage of a now perfectly running Impreza, and a unique rule at this rally that allows entrants to start a special stage late to effectively create a 'dust minute' with minimal penalty. Lovell took a one-minute penalty at the start of SS8, and made maximum use of the cleaner air, making up much more than a minute - posting the fastest stage time of the day and gaining back several precious positions - and putting the pair into third place overall.
* Hyundai is clearly back in top form after a challenging first half of the season. Choiniere's Tiburon ran faultlessly throughout the event, his pace slowed only by the prodigious dust produced by Burke. Noel Lawler and Charles Bradley nearly earned their first finish of the season, and were having a brilliant run, winning SS3 outright, until suffering a massive blowout in SS4 that removed the entire right front fender and damaged their front suspension. Lawler soldiered on through SS6.
* Rhys Millen's Day Two steadily improved, but he remained hampered by manageable overheating problems that required him to dial the boost back on his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5. Millen managed a respectable 18th place overall finish, and remains committed to finishing the season.
* Canadian and US Production GT Champion Patrick Richard had an excellent day, recovering fully from the suspension damage of Day One, finishing 6th overall and winning the class with a considerable 8 minute margin over his nearest competitors, Mark Utecht and Brenda Lewis.
* In Group 5, California's Carl Jardevall with his rarely seen on the east coast crowd pleasing "school bus" Volvo 740 narrowly lost to Bryan Hourt's Acura in one of the closest battles of the day, just 6 hundredths of a second apart.
* Chris Havas led Group 2 from the start in his VW Golf and extended a massive lead, besting one of the largest classes in the event by nearly six and a half minutes over fellow VW Golf driver John Rahill.
* Guy Anderson's US Rally debut went very well, winning Production class by a healthy margin as well, and finishing 22nd overall.
* The Overall Driver's Championship, by virtue of Burke's 1st place finish, has become even more tightly wound than before, and Paul Choiniere is back in the hunt. The unofficial totals are now: Lovell 99, Burke 95, Choiniere 56, Scheible 52 and Tuthill 41.
* The Manufacturers Championship took an interesting turn at Maine Forest, with Hyundai, despite its best showing in several events, slipping back another notch to third place in the overall standings. The unofficial results are: Subaru 99, Mitsubishi 92, and Hyundai 91, making this the tightest overall manufacturers championship points race in the history of the championship. In the Group N manufacturers championship, Subaru continues its runaway success, with Ramana Lagemann's podium finish extending the company's lead over its global rallying rival Mitsubishi 120 to 45.