RALLY: ProRally: Rim of the World: Day one report

SCCA® ProRallysm Championship - Round 4 - Rim of the World Hyundai Leads - Day One. PALMDALE, California 'America's Toughest Rally' took little time asserting its position, eliminating one key player on the very first stage, and picking off...

SCCA® ProRallysm Championship - Round 4 - Rim of the World
Hyundai Leads - Day One.

PALMDALE, California 'America's Toughest Rally' took little time asserting its position, eliminating one key player on the very first stage, and picking off several others in no time at all. Paul Choiniere lead most of the evening, taking good advantage of the clear air from his first on the road position, but handed off the lead to teammate Mark Higgins when drivetrain problems sidelined the 8-time champion late in the evenings stages.

Key Notes & Quotes:

* Paul Choiniere's season has been a tough one, now with four consecutive non-finishes, but both he and his Hyundai were showing real signs of them teams commitment to the program - winning one stage outright and tying for best time on another. Hyundai's Motorsports Manager Toni Honsowetz was clear this morning: "we're not jumping to any conclusions on the cause of this failure until we do a full analysis - we've got 4 weeks to get the problems solved before STPR (round 5); we will get it sorted."

* Rod Millen's return to SCCA ProRally competition lasted just a few minutes, with the right front suspension upright failing on hard cornering on the first stage - a difficult start to his rekindled career, but accepted as part of the development process. Rhys Millen, soldiering on in his Evo 6.5 (the team made a last minute car swap between Rhys and Rod minutes before the rally started), suffered a puncture on SS3, and lost a lot of time to the leaders - unofficially now at nearly 24 minutes, a nearly impossible amount of time to make up on this highly technical rally, but he must do what he can to ensure the company earns at least a few points in the very close manufacturers championship.

* Subaru continues to have rocky goings in this cruel sport, as Mark Lovell rolled his WRX in SS4, losing some time, but managing to bring his now well wrinkled car back to the mid-evening service for some very hasty bodywork and suspension adjustment. The car still mechanically sound, the crack Prodrive crew was able to manage even a few cosmetic repairs to the car in the short (about 20 minutes) time they had before he and faithful co-driver Steve Turvey roared back off into the darkness.

* Ralph Kosmides and Jimmy Brandt had a character building day one, suffering a broken left front suspension upright, and losing a cylinder in their Subaru WRX-STi Group N car, but having narrowly avoided at time-bar at service, are continuing on after a long night of repairs.

* In the overall standings, the works teams are back on top, with Hyundai's Mark Higgin's leading by a fairly comfortable 30 seconds over Subaru's Ramana Lagemann, who finished the first day 10 seconds ahead of current Driver's Championship points leader David Higgins. Mark Lovell, despite his dramatic rollover, holds onto 4th position, less than a minute behind the leading Hyundai - a remarkable achievement, and 2001 Gr N champion Karl Scheible's first drive in 2002 has him in a comfortable 5th place.

* Independent Drivers to watch in day two include the Canadian duo of Scott and Bob Trinder - who started the rally in 32nd position - and now occupy 8th place in the innovative, automatic transmissioned Subaru Impreza from the fiercely independent team of Knight Racing. John Nelson started his PGT Subaru Impreza 2.5RS in 59th place, and worked all the way up to 16th, and series regulars Craig Peeper and Ian Bevan have done similarly in their Group N Subaru SRX, gaining 28 positions, now in 14th.

* Day two of the Rim of the World Rally begins tomorrow at with extensive festivities including a charity RallySprint, at 9:00 AM from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Palmdale. An autograph session, and a Parc Expose of all the rally cars is included. The rally officially restarts at noon for a full afternoon and evening of rallying, with cars not returning to Palmdale until 10:00 PM.

Web sites:
* SCCA ProRally: www.sccaprorally.org
* SCCA Rim of the World Rally: www.rimoftheworldrally.com/

The SCCA name and logo is a registered trademark of the Sports Car Club of America, Inc. ProRally, ClubRally and RallyCross are service marks of the SCCA.

The SCCA ProRally Championship is presented by Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Subaru, and is televised in North America on SpeedChannel. Time and date listing information available at www.speedtv.com

-scca pro rally-

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Ralph Kosmides , Mark Lovell , Rhys Millen , Mark Higgins , Craig Peeper , David Higgins , Rod Millen , Jimmy Brandt