ProRally: Susquehannock Trail: Metalmarks Rally Team summary

First win in 2003 for Metalmarks Rally Team Wellsboro, Pennsylvania - Driver Chris Havas and co-driver Dave Kean dominated the two-wheel drive category at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Susquehannock Trail ProRally this past weekend.

First win in 2003 for Metalmarks Rally Team

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania - Driver Chris Havas and co-driver Dave Kean dominated the two-wheel drive category at the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Susquehannock Trail ProRally this past weekend. The pair took their 2001 VW Golf to victory in Group 5 and eleventh (11th) overall in the rally, held in the hills of western Pennsylvania.

"The car is running great, we had only a couple of minor incidents, so it was a very successful weekend," said team driver and owner, Chris Havas. "Neither Dave nor I were quite on it for Stage One so we started out a little slow, but by stages three and four we were really flying. At the break after Stage Four, Dave pointed out that we were eighth (8th) overall and had a substantial lead on every one else in the class so I was able to conserve a little for the rest of the rally."

Though there were eight Group 5 cars entered at Susquehannock Trails, the primary competition for Havas' VW was expected to come from the factory- backed Dodge SRT-4 of Doug Shepherd and Pete Gladysz. However, the Dodge boys slid off the road on an early stage and were out of the event. Second place in the class went to the SRT-4 of Brian Vinson and Richard Beels, seven-and-a-half minutes behind Havas and Kean.

The Metalmarks rally steed is a current chassis VW Golf with a 1.8-liter turbo engine. The SCCA rules allow for modification so Havas has built a custom fully independent rear suspension for the car. "The new suspension seems to be working well," said Havas. "There was evidence of some bending after the rough roads at Rim of the World so I added some reinforcement. It's hard to know if it's any better for handling, but it is considerably stronger, plus it weighs less than stock."

STPR was only the fourth outing for the Metalmarks VW Golf. It was a class winner the first time out at Maine Forest ProRally last year, but was felled by a fuel system problem at the Lake Superior ProRally. The only other event this year was the Rim of the World near Palmdale, California, where rain turned the roads of the Angeles National Forest into quagmire. The added stress from the mud plus the rough roads caused a broken drive axle. The Metalmarks team was able to continue for awhile with only one wheel pulling the car, but eventually the remaining drive shaft gave up as well.

"After the experience with broken drive shafts at Rim, I installed some stronger aftermarket CV joints and drive shafts for this event and they did the trick. The brakes were really working well, too. The brake balance seems just right. Now that the car is pretty well sorted, I'm tempted to turn up the boost on the engine a little bit. It has been at only 10 pounds per square inch (psi) so there is room to crank in more horsepower."

The next event on the Metalmarks Rally Team schedule is the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 28, 2003. Points will not be awarded for the two-wheel drive classes at Pikes Peak this year, but Havas wants to run because of the history and prestige of the internationally known motorsports event.

-mrt/tw-

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Series SCCA