RALLY: ProRally: Sno*Drift: Day two (final) report

2002 SCCA® ProRally Championship - Round 1 - Sno*Drift The Sprongls take Hyundai to Top Podium Finish Atlanta, Michigan, the 2002 SCCA ProRally Championship finished its season opening round with Hyundai back in top form after a difficult 2001...

2002 SCCA® ProRally Championship - Round 1 - Sno*Drift
The Sprongls take Hyundai to Top Podium Finish

Atlanta, Michigan, the 2002 SCCA ProRally Championship finished its season opening round with Hyundai back in top form after a difficult 2001 season. Canadians Frank and Dan Sprongl, originally of the Czech Republic, ran a steady, well-paced rally in the muddy roads around the host city. Mark Lovell, Subaru's 2001 Driver's champion, with Steve Turvey finished in 2nd place, just a minute and a half behind, and Mark Higgins with Michael Gibbons rounded out the top three for Hyundai in their 2000 Tiburon coupe.

Key Notes & Quotes:

Maintaining the company's Sno*Drift winning dynasty made this was a perfect 'retirement party' for Hyundai, with all three of the team's cars, the Elantra and both Tiburons, being retired from SCCA ProRally competition after this weekend. The team will debut all new Tiburon coupes at Round 2 in the Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee in mid March.

Praise for the season opener ran high, despite the distinct lack of its namesake "snow." Mark Lovell: "What a huge improvement" noted the current SCCA and former British National Rally Champion, "from last year - a truly well run event." Co-Driver Steve Turvey also noted that the spectator attendance was "twice as big" as last year.

2001 Drivers Champion runnerup Seamus Burke (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6), and series veteran Jon Kemp (Audi 4000 quattro) kept the pressure on the field leaders, with independent Burke earning Mitsubishi much needed points in place of the early retired Millen. Kemp and his Audi, with long-time co-driver Rod Hendriksen proved that old hardware in the right hands, and in the right conditions, can still run near the front, was also one of the few vehicles in the top 10 that finished with nearly all the sheetmetal in near pristine condition.

The event was not without its share of Intrigue and Drama and that ultimately cost 4th place overall Patrick Richard his finish. The rapidly growing internationally recognized FIA Group N category, which had more entrants at Sno*Drift than at any event in the US since the classes inception in 2000, was the focus of greatly increased scrutiny; at post-event impound and teardown, Richard's class winning, rented Subaru WRX failed him during the transmission inspection for apparently improper gear ratios. Richard is appealing the disqualification decision.

Mark Utecht and Jeff Secor, reigning PGT Champions started the season in their new Subaru WRX; and despite ending one stage literally on their door handles, snagged the Group N win leading Henry and Cindy Krolikowski by just under 2 and a half minutes.

Hyundai jumps to an early lead in the Overall Manufacturers Championship with Round 1 overall points at: Hyundai 20, Subaru 15, and Mitsubishi 8. In the two-wheel-drive Overall Championship a solid 2nd place finish by Mazda's Eric Burmeister nets the company 15 points, with the world debut of Mitsubishi's US Spec Lancer RMR, finishing a respectable 9th place after numerous punctures and a failed attempt to un-stick teammate Rhys Millen's Lancer Evo, earns the company 2 points.

The Driver's Championship starts the season with a distinctly international flavor, with unofficial points standings at: 22 for Canadians Frank and Dan Spongl, 17 for Britons Lovell and Turvey, 14 for Mark Higgins of Wales, and Irish co-driver Michael Gibson, and 12 points for Irishman (but US resident) Seamus Burke, and his Irish co-driver Rory Kennedy. Fifth place Kemp and Hendricksen constitute the first "all-American" team with 10 points each.

After this traditional early season start, the SCCA ProRally Championship will take a brief hiatus, resuming action in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the Cherokee Trails Rally 15-17 March. An internationally listed FIA event, this event will feature SCCA ProRally and SCCA ClubRally action, in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee.

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 on Speedvision in North America.

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Seamus Burke , Mark Lovell , Rhys Millen , Mark Higgins , Eric Burmeister , Michael Gibson , Patrick Richard , Jeff Secor , Rory Kennedy