ProRally: Pikes Peak: Race report

UK's Lovell, Subaru victorious at Inaugural Summit Run SCCA® ProRally Championship Round 6 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo Under perfect for rallying weather conditions, the SCCA ProRally Championship's debut at the...

UK's Lovell, Subaru victorious at Inaugural Summit Run
SCCA® ProRally Championship Round 6
Pikes Peak International Hillclimb

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo Under perfect for rallying weather conditions, the SCCA ProRally Championship's debut at the 80th running of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb demonstrated to all in attendance the fiercely close competition between both independent entries and manufacturer supported teams that has become a hallmark of the nearly 30 year old rallying series.

Subaru's Mark Lovell, the 2001 SCCA ProRally Driver's and Manufacturer's Champion, along with co-driver Steve Turvey made history today, setting a blistering pace of 11 minutes and 52 seconds up the 150 turn, 12 and a half mile gravel and tarmac highway. Lovell and Turvey became not only the first ever SCCA ProRally Overall winners at Pikes Peak, but also the first British citizens to win at this extraordinary event.

· Hyundai: With a margin of just 19 seconds, Subaru's win was just and hard-earned - but was also the recipient of some Pikes Peak Luck. Paul Choiniere, with several winning years of experience at the Peak with John Buffum's Libra Racing team, was favored by many over the 'rookie' team of Subaru's Prodrive, but had a puncture to the left front tire just two miles into the stage. Driving one of the most committed rides of his career, Choiniere, with Hillclimb veteran co-driver Cindy Krolikowski blasted up the mountain in his hobbled Tiburon in just over 12 minutes, stunning the crowds that lined the mountain from top to bottom.

· Teammates Mark Higgins and Michael Gibson also suffered from the cruel turns, posting the only retirement of the SCCA ProRally division with terminal power steering failure, coating their windsheild with fluid, as they approached the three quarter mark up the hill.

· Mitsubishi: Lauchlin O'Sullivan and co-driver Matt Chester posted the upset of the Open Class with a third place finish, 13 seconds behind Choiniere and a paper thin 8 hundredths of a second ahead of Ramana Lagemann's Subaru, and less than 6 seconds ahead of lead-driver and team boss Rhys Millen.

· Millen, chasing developmental problems on his all-new Lancer Evo VII much the way Hyundai was chasing problems with their new Tiburons several months ago, stalled twice at the start line, an omen that the 2001 Pikes Peak HP Showroom Stock champion wasn't able to overcome.

· Subaru: The months of testing, questioning and preparing paid off for Subaru and Prodrive, delivering the team with their first top podium position of the 2002 season in the most dramatic way. Lovell delivered a flawless drive to the summit, with teammates Ramana Lagemann and Michael Kidd, recovered from their hair-raising "visit to the edge" in yesterday's test also drove a nearly perfect run, keeping fans on their feet and the live radio announcers nearly speechless.

· The Independents:

· Doug Havir, with Scott Putnam finished only 11 seconds out of the 'twelve's' in their brilliant yellow Subaru WRX, and 19 and 21 seconds ahead of fellow independents Lon Peterson and George Plesk. Only Scott and Robert Trinder, beleaguered by ongoing transmission woes were out of the hunt, soldiering to the summit in just over 15 minutes, with just 3rd gear to get them their. "Giving up wasn't an option" said the young Scott, "we still feel like winners"

· In Group N, the exceptionally close test times posted yesterday were precisely indicative of the close racing today. After 12 miles on the most ex hilarating rally road in the USA, only 37 seconds separated the class winner from the final 7th place finisher.

· 2002 season and Pikes Peak rookie Wolfgang Hoeck, originally from Austria, with Julie Lin posted the Group N record at 13:31.51, two seconds ahead of Tim O'Neil and Ole Holter. Using skills both from his rallying background in Austria, and from his several successful seasons in the SCCA ProSolo (autocross) Championship, Hoeck flew his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII up the highway in fine form.

· As were several other teams, Hoeck's crew kept an keen eye on the ever changing road conditions that are a hallmark of racing at Pikes Peak, and swapped tires several times in the morning from tarmac to gravel and back to tarmac tires again at the last minute. Their tire choice was a wise one, with much needed heavy rains the night before sweeping much of the loose 'marbles' off the road, and providing a grippy surface for all. Notes:

· Subaru's first place win at this full-points round of the SCCA Manufacturers Championship has moved them within striking distance of points leaders Hyundai, which leads 76 to 72 as the series heads back east for Round 7, the Maine Forest Rally in three weeks. The third place finish for Mitsubishi has also aided their points position, now at 49.

· TV Time: The 2002 Pikes Peak International Hillclimb review show airs on ESPN2 on Saturday, August 24th at 3:00 PM (Eastern time), and re-airs on Sunday, August 25 at 11:30 PM (Eastern)

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

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Mark Lovell , Rhys Millen , Mark Higgins , Tim O'Neil , Doug Havir , Michael Gibson , Ole Holter