Informational Times & Testing News: SCCAÂ® ProRallysm Championship Round 6 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo At 5:30 AM this morning all seventeen SCCA ProRally teams started their first ever test session at Pikes Peak,...
Informational Times & Testing News:
SCCA® ProRallysm Championship Round 6
Pikes Peak International Hillclimb
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo At 5:30 AM this morning all seventeen SCCA ProRally teams started their first ever test session at Pikes Peak, in the crisp, cool and very thin air that surrounds this huge mountain. Each team was allotted one at-speed run from the start line at 9000 feet through Glen Cove at 11,500 feet, then up to three tests from Cove Creek at 12,000 feet to the 14,400 foot summit.
· Lauchlin O'Sullivan and co-driver Matt Chester arrived at the Cove Creek service sans rear bumper - knocking it off early in their first run from the start line. "it was a light tap; really!" said O'Sullivan - "we didn't expect it to come off." Sure enough, a Hillclimb worker retrieved the bumper, delivering it back to the team virtually unscathed.
· 2001 HPSS class champion, and teammate Rhys Millen served notice to all entrants that his win last year was no fluke, posting fastest time on the lower portion of the course in his Lancer Evo VII. The top half of his test went nearly as well, and there was no evidence of the overheating problems that have plagued the team nearly all season.
· The pair of 2003 Tiburons have a new look for this weekend - hunkered down suspensions over 17 inch rims and low profile rallycross tires from the UK, indicative of the considerable tunability engineered into these cars. The tires, designed for changeable surfaces like that experienced at the Peak - from fresh tarmac to loose gravel - seemed to be working well, as Paul Choiniere demonstrated immediately. Teammate Mark Higgins, who started on conventional rally tires, switched over to the Avon's right away at the Cove Creek service, and was happy with the result. Unofficial times for the upper test session indicated that Higgins, Choiniere, Lovell and Millen were all within seconds of each other over several attempts, setting the stage for a fierce race tomorrow.
· Choiniere's Tiburon suffered turbo failure at the start line, and posted a slower speed than expected - but was replaced at service, with the car clearly back in top form for the un-timed Cove Creek to summit test sessions
· "We've done months of investigating, testing, and just plain asking questions" remarked Subaru Rally Team USA Manager David Campion, "and it's all been great information - but you really just have no idea what it's like up here until you arrive."
· Regardless, all the pre-event preparation was paying off, as Mark Lovell and teammate Ramana Lagemann had excellent tests, with immediately competitive times for the rookie team. That was until Lagemann and co-driver Michael Kidd had a miscue coming out of the aptly named "Ragged Edge" turn at 12,000 feet - luridly sliding the car, finally stopping it with a nearly 2000 foot drop-off underneath the front half of the car. Co-driver Kidd hopped out immediately, and grabbed onto the rear bumper, along with 6 photographers that caught it all on film. "It was going over - no question" exclaimed one excited photographer - we could feel it pulling away - the tow truck got here just in time." Driver, co-driver and car are just fine - although Lagemann's test was done for the day.
· Without the budgets of the works teams, the independents that fill out the majority of the 17 car field have to work creatively and efficiently - as while keeping an eye on the factory teams for any tidbits of information that might be spotted - such as Hyundai's and Mitsubishis switch to tires that favor mixed surfaces over gravel only tires.
· Leading the pack is Doug Havir in his one-event old Prodrive-built WRX, followed closely by PPIHC and SCCA ProRally veteran Lon Peterson in the innovative, turbocharged and automatic tranmissioned Subaru Impreza 2.5RS. George Plsek debuted his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI to good effect making only minor adjustments, while Canadian Scott Trinder was battling both transmission and turbo boost problems - but was very confident that all his problems are curable before tomorrows session - "we may be slowest - but we still made it to the summit!"
· In Group N, very close competition was the rule, with Steamboat Springs CO natives Mark Cox and Jim Gill leading the way in their Lancer Evo VI, with AV Sports Peter Workum very close on their heels. In the lower course times, only 15 seconds separated all 7 entries in Group N - some of the closest racing this group has had all season.
The SCCA ProRally Championship is presented by Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Subaru, and is televised in North America on SpeedChannel. Time and date listing information available at www.speedtv.com
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