SCCA ProRally Championship - Round ...
SCCA ProRally Championship - Round #9 - Prescott Forest
Leg One Results
Brutal High Desert Stages Shake-up the Field
Prescott, Arizona - For the second year in a row, perfect weather seemed to indicate that this year's Prescott Forest SCCA ProRally would be an ideal place for teams to make good on their late season strategies. But as happened in years past, the Prescott trails made mincemeat out of more than just a handful of top teams, and for the lucky few that made it back to service, a very long night of repairs and parts scrounging awaited.
Front running championship players that found themselves out of the running early read like a who's who list of American Rallying: Paul Choiniere, Rhys Millen, Karl Scheible, Ramana Lagemann, and Jonathan Ryther were all out of the rally by SS2, either victims of mechanical failure or off-road excursions.
Amongst the running, were a heavily battle damaged Seamus Burke, nearly 30 minutes off rally leader Mark Lovell. This is a tremendous blow to Burkes last-ditch championship push, and may end his chances for the top podium spot. Lovell needs only to finish in the top four positions to secure his year-end Drivers' Championship - and with many of the top contenders already out of the running, the Englishman could be in a coast-home mode tomorrow.
Perhaps most significant in the 'still running' group is a resurgent Noel Lawler and Charles Bradley, fresh off their first finish of the year at Wild West. Currently running a comfortable 2nd place, their Hyundai is running well, and with the roughest stages of the rally now behind them, are ready to go head to head with the Subaru WRX of Mark Lovell.
The tightest battle of leg one was back in Production Class, where the three 'usual suspects' that have been following each other around the woods all season are back at it again. In the lead - but by a mere 3 seconds - are Californians Tony Chavez/Doug Robinson, in their VW Golf GTi. Right on their bumper are Midwesterners Michael Halley/Ole Holter in the New Beetle. Craig Peeper/Ian Bevan, who were leading the series until Wild West, are a not too distant 6 minutes back - but as rough as Prescott is, that kind of margin isn't as bad as it may seem.
Patrick Richard and Ben Bradley were having a very good go in their Subaru Impreza, winning the final stage of the night and finishing a solid third place. However those good stage times extracted a high cost - melting down two pistons. The team withdrew at service.
Leg two of the Prescott Forest SCCA ProRally begins at 9:00 AM, following a special spectator stage to be run at the Yavapai County Fairgrounds just north of Prescott.