ProRally: Prescott Thursday NotesNotes

Prescott Forest PRO Rally Round ...

Prescott Forest PRO Rally Round #8 - 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship Prescott, Arizona Notes - Thursday, October 1, 1998

10. Like pennies from heaven, ESPN2 has announced the re-airing of several of the previously-broadcasted events, along with times for the last two telecasts. Notice that three of the repeats will run back-to- back-to-back this coming Monday. Also, the Ojibwe repeat time has changed. Here's the latest -set your VCRs (all times Eastern):

Wild West PRO Rally - Monday, October 5, 2:30 PM Rim of the World - Monday, October 5, 3:00 PM Susquehannock Trail - Monday, October 5, 3:30 PM Ojibwe Forests Rally - Tueday, October 27, 6:30 PM Wednesday, October 28, 5:00 AM Prescott Forest Rally - Sunday, November 15, 7:30 PM Thursday, November 19 3:30 AM D&N Bank Lake Superior Rally - Sunday, November 29 - 7:30 PM

As always, these times are subject to change - we'll let you know if we get updates.

11. We just heard from Pete Morris, Toyota Corolla divisional competitor and winner of the national Production class at last year's Rim of the World event. Morris rolled his car at the Gorman Ridge rally last weekend in Southern California, and will not make it to this event.

12. As we reach the seventh PRO Rally of the season (round #8 because the first event - SNO*DRIFT - was cancelled), the points chase becomes quite interesting in most of the classes. Let's look at the two-wheel drive classes. Only the best six finishes count, so those who have run most of the rallies will have to start dropping points from previous low finishes.

--In Group 5, the Ralph Kosmides/Joe Noyes Toyota Supra twin-turbo will be the first team to clinch a national championship, with the two starting points they receive giving them the title.

--The only other competitor who will clinch a national title when the rally starts tomorrow is Honda Production driver Scott Embree. Embree's driver, Jay Kowalik, is only two points behind Plymouth Neon pilot Trevor Donison for the driver's championship, but Jay and Scott are not here this weekend. In fact, Donison is the only Production entry for Prescott, and if he finishes, he will clinch the Production class champion, and win the Donison Cup, named after his father (see a future press note for this event for a story on the late Roy Donison).

--In Group #2, the Dave White/David Watts VW GTI has an eight point lead over the Bill Malik/Christian Edstrom Volvo 240, with both drivers running five events so far this season. Both can keep their points they score here, but White would have to drop 10 points from a win at Lake Superior, while Malik has a DNF and could keep all his points from both events. In either case, this is a must event for both drivers. In the co-drivers chase, Edstrom can clinch the title here as White has had several different navigators helping him this season.

13. Trevor Donison recently provided this insight into the life of his father, Roy Donison, for whom the Production class championship cup is named: My Father (Roy Donison), became involved in performance stage rallying on the west coast when it started. He raced Mazda RX2's and RX3's. Early in his racing career he was called "Crash" Donison. He typically destroyed (and I do mean destroyed) a car a year, sometimes 2. He probably still holds the record for how tightly a car can be wrapped around a roll cage (Ask Paula Gibeault). One time in California he rolled a brand new professionally prepared RX3 five times side to side, then 3 more times end to end (yes, he went of a much longer exposure than Henry did last year in Prescott ). His only injury was a severly broken left arm that had went out the window and had the car roll on it. With surgery he was able to have complete function in his arm.

In 1975 my father decided that he wanted to run the POR Pro Rally. He packed up his Rally car and DROVE it to the event. His co-driver was R. Dale Kraushaar. They ended up finishing 4th overall and drove the car back home...

In 1979 at the Olympus Rally in Olympia Wa, he was racing in another RX3 and was doing well until the I think the 3rd stage. During that stage they lost the fan belt and the car overheated badly. They replaced the fan belt on the stage and refilled the radiator with water from a creek, then continued on their way. On the next stage they had a problem with the fuel pump. Total, they lost about 60 minutes on two stages. This put them way back in the starting order with the slower cars. They didn't do a re-seed so my father proceeded to pass multiple cars stage after stage. He ended up winning a couple of stages towards the end of the rally because Hendrik Blok had a half an hour lead and had slowed down. He would have finished 2nd overall without the problems of stage 3+4.

While looking to purchase a Production car to run the rest of the season in, he learned that the Plymouth Arrow came with a Factory option package called the Fire Arrow. It had a 2.6 litre engine and much more power than the Colt. The car was Production legal because the Fire Arrow was an option package but the model was a Plymouth Arrow. He finished First in production all 6 of the events he entered with the car. He finished in the top 8 overall every event he entered that year. He finished as high as 4th overall in a production car. He also won stages in this car, but I am not sure at what events. Some people have said that the car is what was so fast, but after a couple of events there were other people running the Fire Arrow and he beat them all by at least 15 minutes. This is why we now have Production GT and why the rules indicated that a Plymouth Fire Arrow is a GT car until last year.

Unfortunately, late in 1979, while testing tires, he was involved in a head-on collision with a 4wd truck. I saw the car. The truck hit just off-center on the passenger side. From the front bumper to where the bottom of the front winshield started was only about 2 feet after the accident. The car was nearly as wrecked as the Princess Di Mercedes. The shame of this accident is, that he wasn't wearing his shoulder harnesses and his helmet was still in the back seat. Either one probably would have saved his life. He was 32 years young.

14. The Woodner Cup - for overall 2WD finishers - is close as well, with top Group 2 and Group 5 competitors battling for the prestigious awards, whose past recipients include Sam Bryan, Henry Krolikowski, Goran Ostlund, Peter Cunningham, Roger Hull, Cal Landau, and Doug Shepherd (twice). Right now, Bill Malik enjoys a four-point lead over Ralph Kosmides and a 12-point lead over Dave White. Bill forged into the lead at Ojibwe with his fifth-place finish overall in August - tops in 2WD.

15. More on the upcoming D&N Bank Lake Superior PRO Rally. As previously announced, there will be a limit of 50 cars due to forest service regulation. More than 30 teams have already entered the October 23 - 24 event in Houghton, Mich. Those who are thinking of entering should do so right away as not to get shut out.

16. Sergei Bellesov, the Russian rally driver who now lives in Mexico, Maine, towed his Mazda 626 Group 2 rally car to the event as a last- minute entry. His co-driver, Catherine Roso from Portland, OR, has run several national and divisional events this year. Sergei bought a brand new engine from Mazda for this event, and will break it in by driving the 200 miles round trip tonight to pick her at the airport.

17. Continuing the tradition of Finger Lakes Region national stewards who have broken their rental cars inspecting the stages of the Prescott Forest Rally, John McArthur got two flat tires on Perkinsville Road in Chino Valley and needed to hitchhike seven miles into town to get off the course. In 1993, Rusty Campbell punctured an oil cooler on his rental, and had to walk five miles to the near road. Maybe everyone should just leave the organizer's route book as is...

18. The Mike Whitman/Paula Gibeault Ford Sierra Cosworth experienced electrical problems at Ojibwe, but the current trouble occurred when Whitman heard a "pop" in the transmission when he loaded the car on the trailer. Fortunately, T.A.D. Motorsports was bringing a rebuilt unit to him at this event anyway, and Whitman is changing the transmission on Thursday night.

19. After running the stages today for inspection, both the national steward John McArthur and ESPN2 producer Doug Plumer report that the stages are very rough, with many sharp rocks embedded in the road a threat to tires. Organizer Rob Cherry plans to counsel drivers before the start of the event to go cautiously on Friday night, as the new stages contain both "neat and rough stuff - sometimes only tenths apart."

20. Carl Merrill said his car is "completely revamped" after a series of setbacks which caused a DNF in Maine and a disappointing 12th in Minnesota.

21. In the overall points chase, it's come down to a three-man, two-race season. Eight points separate the top three teams, and with the various DNFs meaning that no one has to drop points (Merrill might have to drop the single point he earned for his 12th-place finish at Ojibwe).

In Pennsylvania in June, the Paul Choiniere/Jeff Becker Hyundai Tiburon was battling the Jamaican Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV of David Summerbell/Michael Fennell and the Ford Escort Cosworth of Carl Merrill/Lance Smith for the lead when the Tiburon hit a stump at 80 mph, breaking a wheel, flipping several times, and ending up well off the road - finished for the event.

In California in May, ex-champion Buffum took the wheel to replace Choiniere as Paul stayed home with the flu, and Buffum was leading when the rear crossmember broke on the Hyundai during the rough Rim of the World event. In August, Choiniere lost an water pump belt too far from the end of the stage to finish the event - another DNF.

Rivals Summerbell and Merrill missed golden opportunities to keep Choiniere down in the standings by failing to finish at the Maine Forest event. Summerbell, after falling several places in Pennsylvania when his Lancer ran out of gas, was within 12 seconds of Choiniere (and the series points lead) going into the last stage in Maine when he overcooked it on a sweeping turn and ran off the road, causing a flat tire which ruined the suspension, causing a DNF. A second place finish in Minnesota has put him on top of the standings by a single point over Choiniere.

Merrill had a shot at the lead in Maine in July as well, but yanked the driveshaft out of the transmission after the Escort went airborn and came down hard on a rock - also a DNF. Merrill had another chance to lead the standings in Minnesota, but late turbo trouble caused another DNF. Merrill now trails Summerbell by eight points.

So far this season, Choiniere has three victories (Doo Wops and Wild West - both in Washington State, and the recent Maine Forest Rally). Summerbell has won one event (Rim of the World); John Buffum won Ojibwe in Minnesota in Choiniere's back-up Hyundai; and Canadians Frank and Dan Sprongl in their Audi Quattro S-2 have the other victory (the Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally in Pennsylvania).

The only other car with more than one top-five finish is the Mike Whitman/Paula Gibeault Ford Sierra Cosworth - like Summerbell's racer, a right-hand drive machine. Whitman has three fifth-place finishes so far this season to put him fifth in the points.

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Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Jeff Becker , Ralph Kosmides , Joe Noyes , Bill Malik , Christian Edstrom , Peter Cunningham , Dave White , Lance Smith , John Buffum