RALLY: ProRally: Wild West: Day one notes

Lagemann cooks, Havir endovers, Millen rises with a bullet. OLYMPIA, Washington The first day of competition at the penultimate round of the 2002 SCCA ProRally Championship season would have driven any betting man crazy, with several key...

Lagemann cooks, Havir endovers, Millen rises with a bullet.

OLYMPIA, Washington The first day of competition at the penultimate round of the 2002 SCCA ProRally Championship season would have driven any betting man crazy, with several key players either taking themselves out or suffering setbacks early in the going. There was one team however, staying the course just as they have all season, avoided trouble, but remained competitively at the top of the competition.

Key Notes:
* With one day to go, David Higgins, the season's winningest driver, the man that has been driving the works teams from Mitsubishi, Subaru and Hyundai mad, whilst giving every independent team someone to look up to, is just 12 hours away from securing his place in SCCA ProRally history. But he will have to outwit, outplay and outlast his challengers to do it. So far, he's doing pretty well in the "outlast" category, as Wild West roads have been gobbling up the competition:

* Brother Mark Higgins, fresh from his convincing win with substitute co-driver Claire Mole at Ojibwe Forests, suffered engine failure just 2 miles into SS2. Michael Gibson who is healing well from injuries sustained in a rally overseas last month, should be back with Mark for the season finale at Lake Superior.

* Defending champion Mark Lovell dropped several minutes in the final stage of the day due to transmission problems, but also did a masterful job of blocking Higgins with his dust

* Paul Choiniere suffered two punctures on a single stage, losing his rear bumper in the process.

* Ramana Lagemann, who early on benefited both from Choiniere's misfortune, (Choiniere's dust effectively slowing 2nd on the road Mark Lovell) as well as a loosened team-orders leash was leading the rally into SS4, when his engine let go as he neared the finish of the stage. Hot oil sprayed all over the even hotter engine, catching fire, and melting down much of the engine bay, using up his entire on-board fire systems reserves, as well as a few fire extinguishers from the teams parked nearby. Both Lagemann and faithful co-driver Michael Kidd are OK, and the car, while the innards are well done, looks hardly the worse for wear on the outside.

* Rising SCCA ProRally team of Doug Havir and Scott Putnam suffered a huge setback to their budding careers in SS3, ending their day without a scratch to either of them, but writing off their new Prodrive built Open Class Subaru WRX in a massive end-over roll.

* Rhys Millen, on the other hand, is having a superb run, and is at the front of the pack, nearly a minute and a half ahead of Championship points leader David Higgins. Back in his trusty Lancer Evo 6.5 (his new Evo VII still undergoing repairs from his big off at Ojibwe)

* Scott Trinder and Paul Westrick are getting the most (perhaps ever) out of the unique Knight Racing automatic-transmissioned Subaru Imprezas, gaining 13 positions in day one to finish 6th overall.

Web sites:
· SCCA ProRally: http://www.sccaprorally.org
· Wild West official site: http://www.nwr-scca.org/rally/wildwest.html

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.

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , Mark Lovell , Rhys Millen , Mark Higgins , Scott Trinder , Doug Havir , David Higgins , Michael Gibson