Strong Showing at STPR for Widget/Havspeed Entry Team Havspeed.com's Classic Orange Mazda Always a Fan Favorite Wellsboro, PA. Two weeks before the start of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally ("STPR", round 5 of the Rally America ...
Strong Showing at STPR for Widget/Havspeed Entry
Team Havspeed.com's Classic Orange Mazda Always a Fan Favorite
Wellsboro, PA. Two weeks before the start of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally ("STPR", round 5 of the Rally America national championship series), Andrew Havas of Hopewell Junction, NY pulled his Mazda RX7 out of storage and began preparing for competition. The entry was made possible thanks to the efforts of Widget Rally Team's John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA,) with help from Perforce Software. The June 2nd event would reunite Havas and Dillon in a car for the first time since 2006.
"Andrew and I really clicked last year at STPR, so we decided to give it another go. We finished second in Group 5 and wanted to move up one position in 2007." More recently, Havas had won his class at Oregon Trail, while Dillon co-drove to twin regional victories at the Olympus Rally, rounds 3 and 4 respectively of the R-A championship.
The RX7 required extensive work, including a new axle designed by Andrew's race and rally car shop Havspeed Engineering. Side impact safety improvements were also carried out to comply with recent series rules changes. Andrew accomplished all the work in-house and with just hours to spare. With a little help from his all-volunteer service crew, the car arrived at the event ready to go.
On the first stage Havas struggled to settle back into his rotary-powered Mazda. He had won the two-wheel drive battle decisively in Oregon six weeks earlier, but in a vastly different machine: a Honda Civic beautifully prepared by Derik Nelson and Mike Barber. "Derik's car is a front-wheel-drive car, with completely different handling and horsepower characteristics," Havas said. "I can't believe how long it took me to get back up to speed in my car. It took three stages and a lot of mistakes before I was comfortable throwing the car into the tricky junctions this event is famous for. After that it was clear from our times that we were the fastest Group 5 car out there, and we dutifully set about to make up for lost time."
Havas and Dillon went on to set fastest stage times in Stages 4 and 5, and a comeback seemed eminent. However, the strong contingent of Havspeed's supporters were ultimately denied their dream, when the team was forced to withdraw by a freak failure of the clutch hydraulic system after completing the fifth stage.
"We lost the use of the clutch midway through (stage) five, as well as our intercom. The fact that we were still nearly a second a mile quicker through the stage than any other two-wheel drive car shows that we had the pace to pull a classic come-from-behind victory here this weekend," said Havas.
"Everything fit just like a year ago. My seat belts, the odometer calibration factors, even the Perforce stickers on the car were exactly as we left them at the end of STPR '6," said Dillon. "We were pretty disappointed when the clutch let go, but we gave the fans a show while we could. We saw people everywhere waving Havspeed flags and wearing our shirts!"
"For sure, it's a shame we had to pull out, especially because our main objective was to entertain our fans. But we have a strong "can-do" attitude within the team and we are motivated to come back stronger than ever. Besides, let's face it, things do happen when you're driving a 25 year-old car!" recounted a surprisingly buoyant Havas.
Next month, Dillon returns to a four-wheel drive car when he codrives for Brian Scott in the New England Forest Rally, while Havas is working hard to secure sponsorship to contest Rally West Virginia in early August, round two of the "Max-Attack!" 2WD championship.