ProRally: Pikes Peak: Friday summary

Rich Getting Richer: Richard Leads Pair of Group 5's Going Into Final Day at Pikes Peak COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (June 25, 2004) -- Just when it seemed Pat Richard couldn't do anything more to wow the North American and international rally ...

Rich Getting Richer:
Richard Leads Pair of Group 5's Going Into Final Day at Pikes Peak

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (June 25, 2004) -- Just when it seemed Pat Richard couldn't do anything more to wow the North American and international rally contingent this year, Friday rolled around.

And after two very early special stages wrapped up the second day on Pikes Peak, there sat Richard and Nathalie Richard's FIA Group N Subaru Impreza WRX on top of the standings with only two imposing runs up the hill on Saturday remaining.

If it took onlookers a while to digest the fact that a Group N car currently leads an impressive field in the rarified Rocky Mountain air, the rest of the podium might have caused rally fans and enthusiasts to rub their eyes also as a pair of 2WD Group 5 cars, the Dodge SRT-4 driven by Paul Choiniere, with co-driver Cindy Krolikowski; and the Pontiac GTO driven by Rhys Millen, with co-driver Chrissy Beavis, are in second and third, respectively.

Intermittent fog and gravel (on the road thanks to rain on the mountain just hours before the 3 a.m. start of SS2) greeted competitors in the pre-dawn hours at the Peak's tollgate. The adverse conditions didn't seem to affect Choiniere, though, as he blistered up the 8.56-mile, all-tarmac stage with a time of 6:58.0 (73.72 mph). Richard was the closest to Choiniere on the stage, finishing with a time of 7:12.7 (71.22).

Choiniere's time was so much better than the rest of the field that he jumped to the front of the overall pack with a 15.6-second lead over Millen and a 20.5-second lead over Richard.

Stage Three posed a much different set of challenges than Stage Two, however. The start of the stage was delayed for 30 minutes as rallyists and Hill Climb workers waited for the sun to rise high enough to melt a mix of snow and ice that covered much of the last mile to the summit.

After the delay, Choiniere still ran into trouble near the finish, ending the stage with a 7:21.5 (48.19), 13th-best on the stage. Richard had no such trouble, however, posting a 6:46.6 (52.33) on the 5.91-mile run. His effort erased the deficit and bolted him to the overall lead by 14.4 seconds, while Choiniere dropped to second, 1.1 seconds ahead of Millen.

Travis Pastrana, who was debuting a new Open class Subaru Impreza STi, saw his weekend come to a close after going off the apex of a sharp left-hand turn near the end of SS2. The car, co-driven by Mike Fennell, suffered damage to the right-front but should be able to compete in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Championship on Saturday, apart from the ProRally.

Leon Styles, with co-driver John Dillon, is fifth overall and leads the Open class in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII by 0.7-second over the Hyundai Tiburon driven by British driver Andrew Barnes, with co-driver Ieuan Thomas.

Masayuki and Takako Akaba, in an Mitsubishi Evolution VIII, trail the Richards in Group N by 1:18.7 and are ninth overall. Stephan Verdier, with co-driver Allan Walker, is eighth overall and has a stranglehold on the Production GT class in his CAR, as he leads Bruce Davis' Mitsubishi Eclipse, which is co-driven by Lee Sorenson, by 4:15.1.

In Group 2, Mark Brown leads the class with co-driver Ole Holter in Brown's Volkswagen Golf GTI by 7:29.5 over Gerardo Pin's Ford Escort, which is being co-driven by Rebecca Greek. After Jon Hamilton's bow out Thursday, Mark Tabor, with co-driver Kevin Poirier is the lone remaining Production entry and is 25th overall.

For results and an event final recap of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Round Five of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship, visit www.scca.com.

-scca pro rally-

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Rhys Millen , Travis Pastrana , Bruce Davis , Leon Styles , Andrew Barnes , Nathalie Richard , Ole Holter , Stephan Verdier