SCCA ProRally Championship - Round ...
SCCA ProRally Championship - Round #7 - Ojibwe Forests
Leg Two/Final Results, Key Notes
Choiniere Crashes Out - Lovell Snaps Up Win Number 4
Bemidji, Minnesota - A cool August summer day, perfect for rallying, was made that much more so for a lucky Mark Lovell and Steve Turvey, who's Subaru WRX proved an equal match to Burke's Lancer Evo VI - the margin of victory was a mere 56 seconds after two hard days and nights of rallying. Paul Choiniere, driving one of the best rallys in his career, and was in the hunt for the overall, committed a very rare mis-cue and landed on his roof mid-way through the days running, opening the door for another lucky Subaru driver - Karl Scheible, to snap up a third place podium and the Group N win.
Key Notes & Quotes:
A protest was filed against Lovell and Turvey post-event by Burke and Cunningham, and centered on the use of maps rather than the organizers provided route-book instructions. The stakes were the highest imaginable: the penalty for use of Pacenotes is disqualification from the event in question, plus a 60-day suspension of competition license. At this point in the season, this would essentially eliminate Lovell and Turvey from the championship - and while not handing the series crown to Burke, it would certainly tilt it in their, and Choiniere's, favor. In the end, the protest was rejected by the SCCA ProRally Protest Committee.
Said Choiniere regarding his SS11 roll-over: "Fortunately, the roll wasn't that hard; the car is certainly fixable -- they way we are all running now, the competition is just at another level. We knew we were taking some chances; and that's part of the game. Wild West should be really something."
Ramana Lagemann's terrific run to the front came to a slowdown on the penultimate stage, when the fuel pump shorted out. Resourceful co-driver Russ Hughes was thinking fast, rewired the trunks domelight directly to the fuel pump. Regardless, doing so does take time, and while able to salvage a finish, all hopes of a class win were dashed.
With the retirement of both Open class Hyundais, it was the Production class Tiburon driven by David Coleman that brought home the Manufacturers Championship bacon for the Korean automaker. With Mazda now officially in the Manufacturers Championship, finishing ahead of that car became mission critical. "It wasn't until 2 stages from the finish that we were able to ease off just a bit - it was a race all the way" said Coleman.
"It Works!" exclaimed an exhausted but very pleased Eric Burmeister, team owner and driver of the all new SCCA Group 2 Mazda ProtÃ©gÃ© MP3 that made its ProRally debut this weekend. "The build-up process of the car took longer than expected, but the results have certainly been worthwhile - there is no question we have a competitive ride in Group 2, right out of the box." Burmeister admitted that he was taking it easy on this first shakedown event, and that there is still plenty of development room left in the car as well, allowing the team to continually improve the car as the class develops.
Group 5 had the tightest run of the weekend, with class victor Michael Hurst winning the class by a mere 6 seconds over a hard charging Andrew Havas. Havas made up significant time in the final stages of the event, besting Hurst's stage times on six of Day Two's eight stages.
With Subaru's win, and Hyundai's misfortune, the Manufacturers Championship is beginning to stretch out - unofficial overall standings are: Subaru 119, Mitsubishi 107, and Hyundai 103. With Scheibles Group N victory, the automaker has a firm lock on that championship over its global Gr N rally nemesis, Mitsubishi, 120 to 50.
The SCCA ProRally Championship begins its final west coast tour of the season, heading to Olympia, WA for the Wild West rally on September 7-8.