Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally Round ...
Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally Round #5 - 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Notes #5 - Saturday, June 6 - 9:30 PM EDT
14. 79 cars took the countdown for the 22nd running of the Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally (Scott Naturale/Richard Adelmann RX-7 was a late scratch). To show the size of the crowd that a large field brings, the Wellboro Rotary Club sold out of its supply of 850 half-chickens it barbecued for the crowd.
15. The Stage #1 Stony Fork water crossing provided the usual thrills, with O-controlmeister Carl Dresie clocking the Sprongl/Sprongl Audi Quattro S-2 at more than 42 mph through the creek. The Villemure's Beetle was second at 41 mph, with both cars getting great applause from the hundreds gathered to watch. The Greg Trepetin/Dick Casey Honda Prelude ingested too much water and lost its engine, causing the rally's first DNF. All the leaders made a fast charge through the water - and no one went off on the traditionally-troublesome last turn before the water.
16. The Paul Choiniere/Jeff Becker Hyundai Tiburon showed no ill-effects from Choiniere's one-event layoff as the Libra Racing entry smoked the competitive field on both stage #1 and #2, assuring its position as first on the road for the service reseed for the evening stages. Choiniere had a good run going again on stage #3 when he slid wide on a turn at approx. 80 mph. towards some ferns on the side of the road. He would have steered back on the road with no problem, but the ferns concealed a large stump, which broke the right-front wheel in half and sent the Tiburon on its roof. The car then slid on its roof until it hit a burm, at which point it rolled two more times before coming to rest on its wheels facing downhill - a long way off the road. Both drivers were okay - Becker was a little sore when we talked to him - but the car is another matter. As John Buffum was off servicing the Noel Lawler/Charles Bradley Hyundai Elantra, he had not seen the car as of this writing, so there has been no opinion offered as to fixable damage.
17. So when the cars came into town to service after stage four (with the reseed based on scores after stage #2), although the Frank Sprongl/Dan Sprongl Audi Quattro now lead the rally, the David Summerbell/Michael Fennell Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV will be first on the road for the rest of the event. So far the dust has not been a factor because of the breeze, but yesterday's rain did not leave enough moisture to prevent all dust - so, if the breeze dies down - dust could still be a factor.
18. After four stages, here are the class leaders:
Sprongl/Sprongl Audi Quattro S-2 Overall Nichols/Koch VW Golf GTI Group 2 Gingras/Westrick Eagle Talon PGT Kosmides/Noyes Toyota Supra Group 5 Mendham/Mendham Nissan Sentra Production # # # Susquehannock Trail PRO Rally Round #5 - 1998 Michelin PRO Rally Championship Wellsboro, Pennsylvania Notes #6 - Saturday, June 6 - 11:00 PM EDT
19. In the divisional runoffs, Gingras/Westrick were leading 04 after four stages, with Kosmides/Noyes leading 02 and Malik/Edstrom leading U2. In the Tioga Divisional event, the leaders are the same as above.
20. Notes from the Green (service after four):
--Merrill/Smith lost time on stage #2 after being "frightened by stage #1," but Merrill was only 35-seconds back of the leaders after four.
--The Sprongls have not run STPR in eight years, but they were pleased their Yokohama rally tires - the same ones that all the Mitsubishis run in the Asia-Pacific series. They are the only ones in North America running the tires to date, but they hope to set up a distributorship to sell the tires to others. The Nissan team, which no longer exists, was the last WRC team to use Yokohamas.
--Summerbell/Fennell Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV has bigger tires for this event that it had for the West Coast events, and had hoped to have the Autronic fuel management system installed, but there was not enough time. For Maine, they hope to be able to turn up the boost as well.
--The Whitman/Gibeault Ford Sierra Cosworth, to celebrate the fact that they survived the water crossing, tossed out orange life preservers labelled "Titanic" into the creek, and drew a reaction from the crowd.
--National steward Tim O'Neil, subbing for organizer John McArthur, surprised at the good driving being exercised by the newcomers in the field through four stages. O'Neil pointed out that today's new competitors have been to driving and rally schools, and have seen the pitfalls of carelessness on the ESPN2 shows.
--The VW Fox Wagon Kit Car, equipped with the V-6 twin turbo VW engine from the new Passat, is running well after a slow start, according to Sakis Hajiminias. Sakis changed injectors after the car had been running rich early in the event.
--Several teams cracked rotors in the water crossing (hot brakes into cold water) including Pepp/Stang Eagle Talon.
--Dean Panton, in a T.A.D. Motorsports-built Hyundai Elantra, a surprise third on the road after the reseed, said dust has been the biggest problem he has faced - something that doesn't exist in Jamaica because of the large open areas on the courses.