Two For Richard as Burke Breaks Late at Oregon Trail Vernonia, Ore. (April 24, 2004) -- Pat Richard showed Group N's Overall Championship potential at Sno*Drift with his win in January. This weekend at Oregon Trail, Round Two of the 2004 ...
Two For Richard as Burke Breaks Late at Oregon Trail
Vernonia, Ore. (April 24, 2004) -- Pat Richard showed Group N's Overall Championship potential at Sno*Drift with his win in January. This weekend at Oregon Trail, Round Two of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, it appeared that Richard would have to settle for second as Seamus Burke was up by almost 90 seconds after 14 Special Stages and well on his way to showing the Open Class' resolve to remain the top class in the Championship. But then trouble showed itself.
With just two Special Stages separating the Irish duo of Burke and co-driver Charlie Bradley from their first ProRally win of the year, Burke's 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution unexpectedly blew a head gasket and rendered the pair helpless as they went from their first potential win to their first DNF instead. Carl Jardevall, with co-driver Amity Trowbridge, who briefly held the lead during the middle stages of the event, wound up second after Burke's misfortune Sunday and wound up second. Lauchlin O'Sullivan, with co-driver Jimmy Brandt, finished third despite problems with a third gear on SS15 that nearly crashed the 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX he was testing over the weekend for fellow driver Doug Havir.
Richard came out firing early and often Sunday as he ripped off four fastest stage times out of the five run on the last day. Originally there were six stages scheduled for the last day, but SS12 was transited after vandalism, including removal of banner tape and direction flags, on the stage was reported.
"It was definitely an interesting weekend," Richard said. "But we did get the win and we have time to work on some things like reading stage notes. We'll get those things worked out and be ready in time for Rim of the World."
Stage notes could have been a problem for Richard and his new co-driver, sister Nathalie. It was the first time for the pair to be in the car together in almost three years (she had been in Australia as a co-driver) and both admitted communication was sometimes difficult.
The lowlight of the weekend for Nathalie, however, came before the first stage on Sunday, SS11, when she realized she had forgotten her stage notes back at the team hotel. But brother Pat came to her rescue as he recorded the fastest stage time by 13 seconds despite having no notes.
Jardevall rebounded after a slow start Sunday morning and after Burke's bowing out late, grabbed the second spot in his 1997 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV.
"I was slow this morning and I just didn't feel like I wanted to keep going," said Jardevall, who earned his first Open class win of the year. "But I found some energy this afternoon and the last few stages I was like, 'okay, we're back on top of things. Let's keep it going.' We're very happy with the finish we had and we'll have to see how some things work out as to how much we run from here."
O'Sullivan's run-in with a row of trees left the driver thinking his weekend was over.
"I thought we were done when we came to a complete stop," O'Sullivan said. "The gear slipped and I couldn't get it to go back in and I noticed I was revving the car but nothing was happening. After we hit a couple of trees and stopped, I looked at Jimmy (Brandt), and he gave me the thumbs-up. So we went back at it and here we are."
In the other classes, Stephen Verdier, with co-driver Allan Walker, finished seventh overall in Verdier's 2002 Subaru WRX and put together a solid run in Production GT, winning the class handily by almost four minutes ahead of second PGT finisher Jamie Thomas, with co-driver Matt Gauger. Thomas/Gauger finished 12th overall in Thomas' 2003 Subaru WRX Wagon.
Though the class win for Verdier/Walker was impressive, the bigger news may have been out of Group 5, where cagey veteran Doug Shepherd wore down a multitude of tires driving his 2004 Dodge SRT-4, but found enough rubber over the weekend to still finish over two minutes ahead of the Group 5 2001 Volkswagen Golf driven by silver-finisher Chris Havas, with co-driver Dave Keane, and, more importantly, finish one spot above the Verdier entry in the overall standings.
"The roads were almost like they had marbles on them, but we managed to get through in good shape" Shepherd said. "We're off to a great start with consecutive victories, we're happy with our finish and we'll get the car ready to go again for Rim."
In Group 2, Brooks Freehill, with co-driver Sean Elliot, was steady all weekend long in his 1990 Volkswagen Jetta and finished more than 10 minutes ahead of second G2 competitors Mark Brown and co-driver Ole Holter. In Production, Mark Tabor ran a smart rally as the lone class entry and finished the event in his 2003 Acura RSX Type S, which gave him and co-driver Kevin Poirier him full class points.
After having a month between Rounds One and Two of the 2004 ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, competitors and teams now face a quick turnaround as Round Three, Subaru Rim of the World Presented by Autosport Engineering, LLC, begins May 7 in Lancaster, Calif.
For more information about the Oregon Trail ProRally or the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, visit www.scca.com.
-scca pro rally-