Rim of the World PRO Rally Round ...
Rim of the World PRO Rally Round #4 - 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship Palmdale, California Notes #1 - Thursday, May 7 - 2:00 PM PDT
1. Welcome to the Antelope Valley - north and east of Los Angeles - for the 15th running of the Rim of the World PRO Rally, round #4 of the Michelin PRO Rally Championship. Although El Nino has taken its toll on the roads - washing out the dirt between the large rocks on roads that are already rough (details below), Rim will be run this weekend under clear skies and comfortable (70's F) temps. The wind has been gusting, and that might keep the dust down, although a breeze does not always get to the canyons where the rally runs in the Angeles national Forest.
2. A couple of late-breaking stories:
--Paul Choiniere, from Shelburne, Vermont, winner of six Michelin PRO Rally national championships in a row, will not be coming west to run his Hyundai Tiburon at Rim. Choiniere aggravated an old rib injury at home last week, and compounded the condition by contracting the flu. With this being the roughest event on the circuit, and his nearest rival - Carl Merrill - off to a slow start, Paul decided to skip this event and aim for the Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally in Pennsylvania in early June. Choiniere's car owner, step-dad and 11- time PRO Rally national champion John Buffum will step in to the driver's seat with regular co-driver Jeff Becker. Both Buffum and Choiniere ran Hyundais at the Wild West PRO Rally last month in Washington state, with Buffum leading most of the event, but stepping aside at the last stage to allow Choiniere to gain the driver's points. Buffum finished second in that event. Buffum won the very first Rim of the World event with co-driver and ex-wife Vicki Buffum in 1976.
--Speaking of the Wild West PRO Rally, Replica Productions informed us this morning that, because of the NHL Hockey playoffs, the Wild West PRO Rally telecast, originally scheduled on ESPN2 for Saturday, May 9 at 6:30 PM EDT, will now air the same day on ESPN2 at 11:00 PM EDT.
--Health unrelated to racing has also made the Ford Sierra Cosworth of Garen (son) and Doc (father) Shrader a scratch as Doc has pneumonia. Garen crashed what was a new car three weeks ago at Wild West, but Dave Clark Motorsports in Seattle had rebuilt the suspension and fixed the bodywork in time for this event had Doc not taken ill.
--Because the rough and wet conditions, the Friday night stages have been re-routed, with the competitors running each of the first three stages twice. The cancellation of the original stage #4 due to mud and rock slides, and possible fog on Friday night, changes the start time at the Holiday Inn Palmdale from 7:15 PM to 6:45 PM for the demonstration stage on Friday night.