Choiniere Racks Up Another Maine Forest Victory...Maybe Four-time Champ's win under protest Rumford, Maine (July 31, 2004) -- Four-time Maine Forest ProRally winner Paul Choiniere was the first to cross the final main time control in...
Choiniere Racks Up Another Maine Forest Victory...Maybe
Four-time Champ's win under protest
Rumford, Maine (July 31, 2004) -- Four-time Maine Forest ProRally winner Paul Choiniere was the first to cross the final main time control in Oquassoc, and he had the best times. Thanks to a protest, however, being the first and fastest driver of Round Six of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels® may not mean victory for Choiniere and co-driver Jeff Becker.
Soon after the teams finished the rally, current runner-up Tom Lawless' camp submitted a protest, claiming Choiniere's group had illegally performed maintenance on their 2003 Hyundai Tiburon during a scheduled "fuel-only" stop.
As it stands, Choiniere/Becker won the event by firing early and often on day two. They needed only one stage to wrestle the lead away from mid-way leader Pat Richard, who rolled his Subaru Impreza WRX during the 20-mile long Special Stage Seven Saturday morning while trying to catch Choiniere.
Should the protest be accepted, the ruling would add 10 minutes to Choiniere's time and would strip Choiniere of his fifth win at Maine Forest and his first since 2000. The win would be Lawless' and co-driver Jason Gillespie's first.
Lawless jumped into second at the last possible moment, overtaking a fatigued Andrew Comrie-Picard, who finished a U.S.-career best third with co-driver Marc Goldfarb despite spending the night working on a troublesome head gasket and then losing power steering in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution first thing in the morning.
Comrie-Picard said that after having experience protests and penalty points in his career, he could see both sides of the issue.
"On one hand, we could look at as we were ahead of Tom Lawless going into the final stage and if the protest goes through, then we could be like "man, we could've won this rally,'" Comrie-Picard said. "On the other hand, I wouldn't want to win the rally on a penalty, a technicality. So I'm philosophical about it. We did well in a super-competitive rally, but I wouldn't want to win that way anyway."
A final release with a final ruling on the protest and full results will be released when information becomes available.
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