ProRally: Prescott Forest leg one report

Prescott, Arizona - Perfect weather seemed to indicate that this year's Prescott Forest SCCA ProRally would be an ideal place for teams to make good on their late season strategies. Several teams, who's championship plans were scrambled by the...

Prescott, Arizona - Perfect weather seemed to indicate that this year's Prescott Forest SCCA ProRally would be an ideal place for teams to make good on their late season strategies. Several teams, who's championship plans were scrambled by the Wild West event's surprise turnout, came to Prescott seeking salvation - unfortunately for many, the first day of this challenging event has ripped up even the best made plans, and have placed several teams Championship hopes in jeopardy.

At the end of tonight's Leg One activity, overall series points leader Paul Choiniere is sitting a comfortable one minute and twenty seconds ahead of his nearest challenger - Californian Lon Peterson, whose Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS turbo is finally living up to its performance promise. Peterson, who has had difficulty just finishing a rally all season, seems to finally have all the bugs out of his turbocharged Subaru, and shot directly to the front of the pack, gaining 9 positions during this evening's short four-stage Leg.

Overall, Subaru has turned into a true late-season bloomer, with nearly 1/5 of today's field consisting of the popular Impreza, and nearly all running at the front. Looking very much as Mitsubishi did at this June's Susquehannock Trail event, with 8 of their exotic Lancer Evos in attendance, all the Imprezas that took the green at the start of today's rally are top 10 contenders, and several, including Eric Eaton's brand-new 2.5 RS and Paul Eklund's turbocharged 95 model, are legitimate podium threats. This is a massive change for the manufacturer, as well as for Mitsubishi, which has seen its impressive field shrink to just one lone Evo carrying the manufacturer's championship hopes through this weekend.

Close on Peterson's heels is series rising star Bryan Hourt, who's supercharged Honda Civic has placed him in a career high 3rd overall position. Locked in a tight battle for Group 5 honors, Hourt teamed up with veteran co-driver John Dillon, who lost his season's ride in Mark Nelson's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV when Nelson crashed out of the Wild West ProRally two weeks ago. The new duo hit it off immediately, and tonight's combination of two fast, flat-out and smooth stages and two highly technical stages struck a perfect combination for Hourt, his Honda and Dillon.

Mark Utecht, doing his best to hold onto his slim lead in the Group 5 point's race, is doing well in his rented Group 2 VW Golf Gti, reclassed to Group 5 for this event. Working in his favor is co-driver Brenda Corneliusen, who spent the entire 1999 season in the co-driver's seat of a virtually identically prepared VW Golf of Robert Nielsen. Keeping it a family affair, the #98 Nielsen VW is now co-driven by Brenda's brother, Brett.

Late season hard-chargers Garen Shrader and Michael Fennell had a tough stage one, suffering a blowout about halfway through the stage and shattering a rim. With a quick 10-minute service scheduled immediately after that stage, the team pressed on through SS1 with the 3-wheeled Evo, but lost some time regardless. Damage to the car was minimal, and the team feels confident that Saturday's Leg two will be a good one for them.

Noel Lawler's brief run of good luck was precisely that - brief. After setting a blistering pace in SS1, gaining nearly 25 seconds on teammate Choiniere, the dashboard of Lawler's Tiburon caught on fire about halfway through SS2, causing a hasty exit from the car mid-stage. The fire was quickly extinguished, and Lawler and co-driver Charles Bradley finished the stage, but the duo felt it unwise to continue, and parked the car. This unfortunate turn of events effectively ends Lawler and Bradley's chances of a repeat overall Driver's Championship.

Leg two of the Prescott Forest SCCA ProRally begins at 9:00 AM, following a 1-hour Parc Expose in Prescott at the host hotel. Also featured in tommorow's leg is a special spectator stage to be run at the Prescott Downs fairgrounds in Downtown Prescott in the late afternoon.

<pre> Leg One Finish Order (unofficial) times are in hours:minutes:seconds start Finish Car# Time Seed Class Driver Co-driver year Car 1 1 2 35:34 FIA Open Paul Choiniere Jeff Becker 00 Hyundai Tiburon 10 2 304/148 36:14 2 Open Lon Peterson Bill Gutzman 00 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS turbo 11 3 71 36:42 2 Gr 5 Bryan Hourt Jay Kowalik 97 Honda Civic 3 4 4 37:50 1 Open Garen Shrader Michael Fennell 95 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV 5 5 32 37:51 2 Open Paul Eklund Scott Huhn 95 Subaru Impreza 7 6 160 38:14 2 Open Eric Eaton Kenneth Almquist 99 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS 12 7 83 38:15 2 Gr 5 Mark Utecht Brenda Corneliusen 86 Dodge Omni turbo 4 8 28 38:46 1 Gr 2 Bill Malik Amity Trowbridge 80 Volvo 240 turbo 14 9 51 39:06 3 Gr 2 Jay Streets Bill Feyling 85 Toyota Corolla 13 10 72 39:25 2 GT Roger Hull Sean Gallagher 92 Eagle Talon 16 11 73 39:38 3 Gr 2 Nicholas Robinson Carl Lindquist 97 Honda Civic 18 12 09 40:37 3 Gr 2 Robert Neilsen Brett Corneliusen 87 VW Golf Gti 24 13 379/149 41:27 6 Open Jonathan Ryther Janice Damitio 00 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS 20 14 117 42:00 3 Open Ken Stewart Doc Shrader 85 Chevrolet S-10 24 15 84 42:10 5 Gr 2 J.B. Niday Al Kintigh 86 VW Golf Gti 18 16 165 42:43 3 P Dennis Chizma Claire Chizma 73 Porsche 911 19 17 55 43:56 3 P Brian Vinson Richard Beels 87 VW Golf Gti 25 18 139 45:12 6 GT Janus Jastrzeldski Tom Zaremba 95 Subaru Impreza 21 19 374 46:41 4 Gr 5 Leon Styles Larry Scott 84 Mazda RX-7 8 20 95 53:23 2 Open Tony Chavez Eddie Cardenas 91 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 ClubRally Only Entries start Finish Car# Time Seed Class Driver Co-driver year Car 42 21 324 40:31 6 Gr 5 Peter Workum John Rippel 77 Plymouth Fire Arrow 28 22 401 41:50 3 Gr 5 Jim Gillaspy Mick Kilpatrick 84 Dodge Colt 27 23 303 41:50 2 Gr 2 Paula Gibeault Chrissy Beavis 90 VW Jetta 29 24 311 42:05 3 Gr 2 Brad Boli Gary Garman 86 Honda Accord 38 25 396 43:22 6 Open Keith Roper Jack Evanson 91 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 30 26 322 44:51 3 Open Bob Pendergrass Jon Weigley 69 Chevrolet Blazer 39 27 388 45:46 6 Gr 5 Darren Pennington EJ Webb 90 VW Corrado G60 33 28 325 47:35 3 Open Bruce Brown Pat Brown 93 Subaru Impreza 34 29 371 49:34 3 Gr 5 John Shults Don Shreyer 73 Mazda RX-3 43 30 386 49:35 6 Gr 5 Chris Acker Peter Morris 98 Ford Mustang 41 31 934 51:49 6 Gr 2 Raymond Johansen Kevin Adams 78 VW Rabbit 36 32 364 53:22 6 Gr 2 Robert Sudhop Louis Panelli 96 Mitsubishi Eclipse 31 33 378 1:02:05 3 Gr 2 Gary English Kengo Takahashi 86 Alfa-Romeo GTV6

www.prescottforestrally.com

Car #304 - Peterson; and #379 - Ryther will be re-numbered for Leg Two, with ProRally numbers 148 and 149 respectively.

Leg One Retirements - unofficial Car # Drivers Name Co-Drivers Name Class Year Make stage Retirement cause (unofficial) 35 Lee Shadbolt Bob Sherman Open 97 Subaru DNS Engine 1 Noel Lawler Charles Bradley Open 00 Hyundai SS2 Electrical Fire 53 Kyoichi Takaori Ken Cassidy Open 95 Mitsubishi SS2 Accident 20* George Plsek Alex Gelsomino Open 90 Audi SS3 Suspension 68* Doug Robinson Sue Robinson Open 88 Mazda SS4 Axle 367* Richard Byford Fran Olson Gr 2 70 BMW SS2 Unknown 427* Drew Goldsmith Lee Sorenson Open 88 Toyota SS2 Accident 387* Brady Dohrmann Brandon Smith Gr 5 86 Mazda SS4 Unknown * indicates teams that have the option of re-starting Leg 2 as ClubRally entrants only.

SCCA/PRORALLY

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Jeff Becker , George Plsek , Alex Gelsomino , Bill Malik , Paul Eklund , Scott Huhn , Amity Trowbridge , Jay Streets , Bill Feyling , Mark Nelson , Peter Workum , Ken Cassidy , Leon Styles , Rob Nicholas , Peter Morris