In Grand "Styles": Styles Leads O'Sullivan After First Day; Richard Back in Pack BEMIDJI, Minn. (Aug. 28, 2004) -- Leon Styles and co-driver John Dillon overcame thick dust, took advantage of several other teams' misfortunes and grabbed the...
In Grand "Styles": Styles Leads O'Sullivan After First Day; Richard Back in Pack
BEMIDJI, Minn. (Aug. 28, 2004) -- Leon Styles and co-driver John Dillon overcame thick dust, took advantage of several other teams' misfortunes and grabbed the overall lead by 14 seconds through seven stages going into the final day of the Ojibwe Forests ProRally, Round Seven of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®.
Lauchlin O'Sullivan, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX in a ProRally for just the second time and teaming up for the first time with co-driver Scott Putnam, trails Styles by 15 seconds after finishing the first day strong, and the British duo of driver John Lloyd and co-driver Pauline Gullick is in third currently, 16.9 seconds behind O'Sullivan/Putnam.
Coming into the weekend, Dillon said that his driving partner wanted to attack the fast, sandy Minnesota roads and go for the duo's second national win of the season and of their careers. Styles' driving on Friday backed that up.
After overcoming a quick start by Pat Richard (who battled mechanical problems on Special Stage 3), Styles bolted to the front of the pack with the quick time on SS3. But on SS7, Dillon was overcome with a bout of car sickness, forcing the pair to tone down their assault for a few miles.
"We were going alright and then I heard John getting sick," Styles said. "We had to slow a little, but then John got it back together, so I didn't really know who was going to come into the final time control with the lead."
Overall point leader Richard held the lead for the first two stages, but lost it after a coil pack came loose and took out another coil pack, causing enough damage that Richard's Subaru Impreza WRX engine only had one cylinder left out of four, forcing Richard to his ride inside SS3 for repairs. The stoppage cost the Canadian almost 15 minutes, dropping the Rocket Rally team well back in the field.
Minnesotan Group N driver Mark Utecht, with co-driver Jeff Secor, back after a 10-week hiatus, leads the Group N class. Utecht used his knowledge of the area well on Friday and is currently in fourth overall, just 11.6 seconds in back of Lloyd.
"In all of our time together, those four stages might have been the best we have ever worked together," Utecht said. "We had some moments during the final stages tonight and I think some cars might have overtaken us. There are a lot of fast drivers here and a lot of cars that are much faster than the one we are competing in."
With the momentum gained by Friday's performance, Utecht also said he really only had one thing on his mind.
"If we can get inside of fifth when this is all over, I'll be ecstatic," Utecht said. "A podium would be fantastic, but I've never done better than fifth and I want to beat that."
Behind Utecht/Secor in Group N, Jonathan Bottoms, with co-driver Carolyn Bosley, fought through some tough luck of their own (dust and car overheating), and are nearly two-and-a-half minutes behind Utecht/Secor. David Anton and co-driver Andrew Coombs are third in class, but trail Utecht by almost five minutes.
The Team Mopar 2004 Dodge SRT-4 driven by Doug Shepherd, and co-driven by Pete Gladysz, continues to terrorize dirt roads regardless of their geographic location. The Mopar duo leads the Group 5 class by a healthy margin over Mopar teammates Chris Whiteman and co-driver Mike Paulin and currently holds sixth overall.
Group 2 driver Brooks Freehill, with co-driver Sean Elliot, leads the class by nearly a minute over Group 2 point leaders Mark Brown and co-driver Ole Holter. Brown/Holter struggled Friday with several mechanical issues including a rear main seal leak and stock gearing in Brown's Volkswagen that at times only provided a one-wheel drive feel.
Patrick Moro, with co-driver Neil Smith, stretched out his Production GT 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX just enough on Friday to earn the day one top spot. Moro/Smith lead Bruce Davis and co-driver Jimmy Brandt by 58 seconds heading into tomorrow. Davis is aiming for the top spot in the PGT class and if he can hold his current position, he will do just that; overtaking current point leader Stephen Verdier.
Scott Comens and co-driver Adrian Wintle came out blazing in Comens' 1995 Plymouth Neon and currently hold the top spot in the Production ranks. Current Production drivers point top man Mark Tabor, with co-driver Kevin Poirier, ran into some problems in his Acura RSX Type S (caused by a missing sway bar link) and is in second, 15 seconds behind Comens.
The final day of the Ojibwe Forests ProRally is set to begin with the first car heading out at 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Results will be posted when they become available. For more information about the SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, visit www.scca.com.
-scca pro rally-