Monday, November 19, 2007

The penultimate round

The eighth round of the Detroit SCCA Rallycross Championship, presented by Team Illuminata Motorsport, was held at Bob’s Family Raceway in Clarksville. With eight Subaru drivers in the Prepared AWD class the Alba Rallysport team had some challenging competition. It was a chilly, overcast midday as we headed out on the short drive to Bob’s. Team co-driver Tammy was taking the day off due to illness and in her place was a friend of ours from Kampala, Uganda who was more used to seeing rally greats like Kankunen and Waldergard speeding through East Africa. As we cruised along I-96 a bank of flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror, the unmistakable Subaru rallycross stars from Chicagoland. After refusing to ‘street race’ a crudely modified Chevy Cavalier the four rallycross prepped AWD cars turned off towards Clarksville to begin our day of proper competition. With a 2pm start eight runs were planned for the day, three of those being after dark. The course had some tighter sections than usual which demanded a shift in driving pace as well as some well-chosen gear changes. The weather brightened by the afternoon and we were ready for the first run. I took it easy but still managed to pick up two cone penalties. Rob (#86) turned in virtually the same time but with only one cone penalty. On run 2 we dropped our time dramatically but sill picked up a cone penalty. This wasn’t quite going to plan. I knew with Dmitriy (#42) snapping at my heels at every event, and in terms of championship points, I had to keep clean. The third run was ugly. I missed a gear change at the forest chicane and clipped a cone with the very back of the WRX as we sped down the slalom on the sand drag. Rob turned in a fast, clean run. Unfortunately for the #42 driver, although smooth and clean as always, the Impreza RS just didn’t have the power to keep up with the WRX and Sti. With the pressure on, Dmitriy made a rare mistake on run 4 and gained two cone penalties; the only two of the day I might add! I clipped a cone also but Rob was clean and with a blistering time, FTD up to this point. I pushed harder on run 5 and Rob started to feel the pressure picking up ten cone penalties (How did you manage that Rob?). I hit the same cone, not managing one single clean run all day. After a short pizza break we went into the night portion of the event. We fitted the new Hella lamps to front of the Alba Rallysport WRX and prepared for after dark battle. With some slight modifications to the course we prepared for run 6. Bam! A clean run but Rob had a clean run too and two thousandths of a minute faster. That’s 0.12 seconds! Run 7 saw the mist sink into the dips on the course creating a stage rally atmosphere. Pushing to get below the 0.9 min. mark that same cone on the back section of the course interfered with my rear bumper again. By this point I had my eye on FTD and the $25 Primitive Racing prize money. I was trying to gauge the speed of the M4 class cars that were laying down consistently faster times. Last run of the night and a time of 0.889 minutes, clean, no cones. Fantastic, that will do it I thought, until Scott Harvey Jr (#13) turned in the same time on his last run. We later found out that Ryan (#92) took FTD with a clean run and 0.887 minutes, and the overall M4 class win. FTD wasn’t to be, however, my Ugandan co-driver and I took the PA class win and 20 championship points, barely 10 seconds faster than the #42 Impreza RS that gave us a very close race. The driver of the #86 Sti will be one to watch at future events.
The final round will be held at Fowlerville on December 8th followed by an end of season gathering. See you there!
Photos by Chris Amos,

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