Choiniere Penalized, Lawless Gets First Win After Maine Forest Protest TOPEKA, Kan. (Aug. 2, 2004) -- Irishmen Tom Lawless and co-driver Jason Gillespie picked up their first ever SCCA ProRally win after veteran Paul Choiniere and co-driver Jeff...
Choiniere Penalized, Lawless Gets First Win After Maine Forest Protest
TOPEKA, Kan. (Aug. 2, 2004) -- Irishmen Tom Lawless and co-driver Jason Gillespie picked up their first ever SCCA ProRally win after veteran Paul Choiniere and co-driver Jeff Becker were protested and subsequently penalized 10 minutes for an illegal service on the final day at the Maine Forest ProRally, Round Six of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®.
The penalty came after a protest committee heard the complaint issued by Lawless' camp and determined that Choiniere's crew performed maintenance on Choiniere's 2003 Hyundai Tiburon at a scheduled "fuel-stop only" break. The fuel-only instruction was listed in the service route books, which were created by event organizers and given to all competitors.
After the final times were adjusted, Lawless moved up from his original runner-up position to claim the victory in his 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII with an overall time of 1:32:53.0. Canadian Andrew Comrie-Picard slid up to second (1:33:59.1) in his 1999 Lancer Evolution IV - his highest finish in an SCCA ProRally event, and Matt Iorio earned his first spot on a ProRally podium in his 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX, finishing third (1:32:17.2).
The penalty dropped Choiniere's time to 1:39:23.1, which erased his three-and-a-half minute lead and moved him from first place down to 11th overall and eighth in the Open class.
Choiniere has appealed the committee's ruling and is now awaiting a decision from the Performance Rally Court of Appeals. That decision may not be reached for several weeks.
A protest also determined the Group N class, with Jonathan Bottoms and co-driver Carolyn Bosley taking the win. Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt led for much of the rally, but after checking out of Saturday's mid-day service prior to the final three stages, the pair immediately returned for further repairs on Bacon's 2004 Impreza WRX STi, which was against event regulations.
Bottoms protested the move and the protest committee ruled in his favor. As a result, Bacon/Watt were given a 10-minute penalty, which dropped them to fourth in the class and 20th overall. That decision will not be appealed.
Behind Bottoms/Bosley, who finished seventh overall, Otis Dimiters and co-driver Peter Monin wound up second in the class and tenth overall, almost three minutes behind the class winners. David Anton and co-driver Andrew Coombs earned third in Group N and 14th overall.
Doug Shepherd dominated the Group 5 class again over the weekend in his 2004 Dodge SRT-4, this time with the help of four-time co-driving champion Joe Andreini. Shepherd finished an impressive sixth overall and blew away the class competition, finishing more than 13 minutes ahead of Group 5 runners-up Mark and Duffy Bowers, who finished 22nd overall.
It was a perfect beginning to Group 2 driver Eric Burmeister's season as he broke out his 2003 Mazda Protege for the first time this year. With co-driver Cindy Krolikowski, Burmeister posted a time of 1:42:39.9, good enough for 15th. Behind him, Robin Jones and 17-year-old co-driver Alex Kihurani wound up second in Jones' 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit, 25th overall.
Greg Healey and co-driver John McLeod earned their first Production GT wins of 2004 over the weekend. Healey/McLeod turned in a time of 1:46:15.2 in his 1997 Subaru Impreza which placed the duo 19th overall. Bruce Davis came in second in PGT and 23rd overall with co-driver Jimmy Brandt after trading in his normal ride, a 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse, for an Impreza WRX.
Jeff Field and co-driver Mike Hordjik ran a very respectable rally finishing 16th, just eight seconds behind Burmeister/Krolikowski, while taking the Production class win.
From Maine, the scene shifts along the northern U.S. border to Minnesota's Ojibwe Forests ProRally, Round Seven of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®. The event, based in Bemidji, Minn., is scheduled for Aug. 27-28.
For more information about the SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, visit www.scca.com.