Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bring on the speed

We had planned that the third round of the Detroit SCCA Rallycross Championship, presented by Team Illuminata Motorsport, was to be our turning point in terms of class point standings. We needed a first or second place finish, preferably first and 20 points. Like many situations in life, things don’t always go to plan.
The April 21st event was to be held at a new venue, Lenawee Fairgrounds in Adrian. Due to geographical location the Alba Rallysport co-driver wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of leaving before 6am on a Saturday morning. As a result, we prepared and packed the car on Friday night for the drive over to the east side of Michigan and stayed in a small hotel, just minutes from the event. With a few absentees, PA class was down to 6 entrants although this didn’t make the competition any easier. The weather was warm and dry. The new track was smooth but with a very loose gravel surface. The course also appeared to flow well on the walk through however the large amount of strategically placed cones meant that high penalty points may be the decider at the end of the day. 7 runs were planned, starting off with 4 in the morning.
Sitting on the start line we were mentally ready to take the win. The car had been running well and we’d had shown good speed at past events. Just keep it clean and this would be our day we told ourselves. 3, 2, 1, GO! We were off and through the first slalom and into a long sweeping right hander where the WRX laid down the power in a beautiful drift. The back straight slalom was fast, very fast and as we crossed the line our time was a good couple seconds faster than our closest rival, Garant #177. The timing official stepped up to our window, “You missed a gate”. I couldn’t believe it, my co-driver confirmed, we had indeed missed a slalom gate on the back straight, which accounted for it being so fast. Luckily for us the #177 car also missed the same gate taking the 10-second penalty. We couldn’t believe our luck. Run 2, a clean run and the fastest in class, although Kollien #77 had electrical throttle issues and his Sti went into safe mode. We were back in the game and in 2nd place behind Martynov in car #42. Just keep it together my co-driver told me. Run 3 was faster still but one cone penalty kept us in 2nd so on run 4 we went for it; a little too much. Clean through the slalom into the sweeping right hander we were too fast, much too fast. The car over rotated and although I held it from spinning we passed on the inside of two gates much to the disgust of the expletive shouting co-driver on my right. We were nailed with a 20-second penalty for two missed gates and an additional 2 seconds for a cone, just for good measure. This moved us down to last place. Lunch was tasteless to say the least and it wasn't just the soggy sandwich.
We did the calculations, worked out a plan and prepared for the afternoon. 4th place was within our reach, IF we kept it
clean and kept the speed up to the level of the morning runs. It was a tall order but we always seem to achieve better results when we have nothing to loose. Run 5, WHAM, fastest run in class and clean. Run 6, KA-POW, fastest again, and clean. Run7, KA-BOOM, “Did we just pull FTD?” Confirmed, fastest time of the day and clean. Not only did we crawl back up to 4th place but also brought home $25 thanks to Primitive Rally. Martynov #42 took the win, proving power and speed are not always the answer rather, cone free consistency. Following car #42 were Kollien #77 and Garant #177.
As previously mentioned, many situations in life don’t always go to plan but sometimes those are the most fun and rewarding days.
Photos by Richard Worden

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