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Rim of the World "98
1998 Rim of the World Rally Report
Paul Timmerman / Suzanne Martin
Car #323 / Open Class - Divisional Series
The biggest event on the California Rally Series calendar,
and one of the finest events of the Michelin national Pro
Rally Series was run this past weekend in Palmdale California.
The event was designed to consists of 6 stages on friday night,
making up the first divisional event, and another five stages
on saturday (divisional) or seven for national competitors.
Rim of the World has blossomed under the Gibeault's stewardship,
into a international event, with entries from Japan and Jamacia
giving a "wake-up call" to the domestic competitors. Many of our
local CRS competitors are well aware of the level of international
rallying, having experience around the world. By my count,
we were only missing a rallist from one continent, antartica.
So if anyone knows of one, please let me know, as I am looking
for some tips on snow driving. ;^/
First night jitters were justified, as arrival at the beginning of the
magic mountain stage (no, not the amusement park) was greeted by dense
fog. The national competitors were allowed to run, but first on the road,
rally star John Buffum, out of retirement for this event, called organizers
on the radio and strongly advised agianst running divisonal competitors
on the stage, as the mixture of sheer cliffs and dense fog was an accident
in the making. This seemed like a good idea, since divisional class has
quite a few rookies.
The nationals who did run were treated to a display of expertise in fog from
the japanese team in the WRX Subraru that had one two-minute man after
another caught and passed. The results was a train of cars hulting through
the pea soup, intently watching the next cars brake lights.
The second stage was turned into a transit for both national and divisonal
competitors, to escape the fog. This was depressing for the contestants
who figured the whole night was going to be without any real racing. We
acted as lead car for a small train through the fog, having less light
reflected up and back than some other cars and trucks.
The friday night stages had been rerouted prior to the start, due to rain.
The organizers responded by changing to a scheme of rerunning the first
three stages twice, but with two of three gone, there seemed precious
little road left for racing.
What was left was the relatively smooth, fast, hard packed Aliso Canyon
Stage. This stage sees daily truck traffic to a gravel pit, and has a
different character than the relatively unmaintained road throughout
the rest of the stages.
While many competitors were looking glum, I knew Aliso would be fog free,
open for racing and fast! Suzi and I had practiced this stage repeatedly.
So while we waited to transit, we slipped on two fresh tires from the trunk
onto the front. The plan was to run the earlier asphalt stages on worn
tires, saving the fresh shoes for the dirt, where sharp knob edges could
best be used. Conditions played into this stradegy perfectly.
The transit down to Aliso Canyon Stage is a bit of a bobsled run, swooping
with tightly banked dirt turns. We donned helmets for this transit,
a bit unussual, but wise considering, and got loosen up for the real thing.
Spirits were much higher in the line of cars at the bottom, as people
began to realise the fun was just about to begin.
This was a driver's stage, with few instructions. The first third was
rougher and tighter, and the last bit open and fast. We hit a rhythm
after the rough bit and put the hurt on our 1.6 liter DOHC turbo motor,
winding it out to redline second and ocaaisonally hitting third. Like just
before that blind crest where I chose life for both myself and my finacce Suzi,
and practiced some threshold braking.
The results at the end were encouraging to us, but somewhat of an upset
in the ten car strong, Open 4WD class. We had beaten every car in our class
save one, Rui Brasils 420 HP Audi Quattro. We had numerous 2.0 liter AWD
cars with experienced drivers behing us on this stage. Those pesky 2WD cars
made a good showing as well on this stage placing first and second overall,
and filling three of the four spots in the tie for fourth overall. We were
the other car tied at fourth overall.
I was actually hoping to get to run Aliso Canyon a few more times that night,
but the race was called after only one stage of racing, and the results
stood a reported above. We had eclipsed my own expectations for the event
after only one stage. But could We be consistant tommorow?
Saturday morning was heaven, for the second stage of a rally. We had gotten
to bed early (midnight), and were able to sleep in a bit with a car in one
piece. The biggest part of preparation was washing the car. The parc expose
was a glorious circus of people, music, food (the ever present boy scout troop
has those $0.50 hot dogs again (hey what inflation!)), and fabulous machines.
there were so many AWD Mitsubishis I couldn't count them all. All the way
from the latest Lancer Evo IV's down to nearly stock cars. Car Merrils
Cosworth, the Subaru WRX, and the exotic Hundui Tiburon all glissen in the sun.
The charity rally cross pursuit was a big hit with spectators, raising $1000
for local charities. Meawhile, steward reports from the moutians again
showed fog. Everyone was having such a great time in Palmdale (imagine!)
that it seemed a shame to head for the hills.
Unlike the night before, we had not practiced these stages, and had no
secret stradegy, and were preciously short of silver bullets. The only
advantage we could attempt was a careful fuel management stradegy to
minimuze sprung weight.
Were were to run two stages, Del Sur Ridge North and South, then stop
for a short service, run two more through the Leona Valley, and service
again at Lake Hughes, the head out for the last divisional stage, Maxwell.
National competitors then had to go BACK out to Del Sur and repeat the
out and back Del Sur run. Out and back runs have long turn around waits,
sometimes lasting two hours, but with only Nats running it again, they
would be home before midnight.
Del Sur Ridge proved to be one of the roughest, meanest stages of the event.
Rim is generally requarded as the roughest national Pro rally, and this was
one of the roughtest years, with El Nino still kicking (seven inches of rain
this week in local mountains), and this was the roughest of the rough.
The result sheets showed a massive attrition with eight cars dropping out
and many more running wounded. Rui's Audi was the first dead car with
a corner torn off after a big mud hole. Plenty of them in the first third.
We lost 45 seconds to the top AWD Div Car, Ron Wood. Ron and I helped
Bruce and his wife Pat (both about 70 years old) fix there teratrip
at turn turnaround. We cut our loses on the way back, having felt, seen,
and tasted Del Sur, we lost only 20 seconds to locals Vartan and Ara in
our stablemate car from RoadRace Engineering. Ron might have taken this
one too, with his superior suspension, had he not stopped his car for a bogus
red cross from a national competitor who flatted on the stage, but was too
cold to HOLD the sign and left in on the rear wind screen. (that's why the
call them wind screens!)
We had a simple service visit, but rushed back to get lights thinking
you could get caught behind delays and need them. Henry!?! We did seen
Henry Joy's lancer stopped on the road, but no stage closures occured.
Better safe than sorry. These two stages were my personal favorite of
the day. Not as rough as Del Sur, tighter, twistier, easier to get
a rhythm. I started to use left foot braking in leu of slamming
into first out of corners, and found it DID help. We were only 3% back
on the Spunky Canyon spectator stage, where fan shouted ecouragement
as I beeped with one hand while appling full throttle and oppostite
lock. This stage is ideal for the little 323, as bigger more powerful
cars bog down badly in the tight roads and deep, wet sand. SEND PICTURES !$!
The next stage was largely more of the same, save one scare where we
were heading sideways toward a rather vast vista, with full jaw drop
and all four tires locked up. After finnishing my prayers, I managed to
pop the clutch in 1st, get it restarted, and continue without too much
rhythm loss. This whole scene was witnessed by the Bob and Adriane Scott,
who were posted on that corner. It was also captured on in-car video.
At the final service, we were in third place in our class with Ron and
Vartan ahead and Tony Chavez in the new Gallant just behind. That's
pretty good company. We didn't get to start Maxwell until about 7:20
and dusk had fallen, with a icey wind and fog. Suzi worked both the
route book and called individual corners, as my eyes head for the
light beams. Speaking of which, we had yellow fog tape on the mains,
and constructed special miltary style peep shades over the rally lamps
using duct tape. that trick was thanks to Tony Del la Cuesta. I repayed
his kindness by catching and passing him on stage. Trying to make up a
bit of fog induced losses, we sprinted into the finnish, hit an unmarked
jump flat in second and got big air. Big bang, long hang time, gut
wrenching air... At least we missed the berm on our landing, unlike
Dave White, the ace driver in his hper fast VW Gulf. he had to wait
thirty minutes before someone whold pull him off, and almost failed to
make his time limit. Wouldn't Tony D. have been laughing at us then...
I though we had done well with what we had, but as Ron says, " It's hard to
judge your speed.." We lost big time on this stage. Tony C., who started
before dusk, pushed hard, took over third, and sent up back to fourth.
A number of 2WD competitors who started up with the NATS also passed us
for overall placing us about 10 back overall.
Still, we had absolutely nothing to complain about, we never had a single
problem with the car, we had a 2nd and 4th in class, and even got some
booty for being to seed 4 finnisher. hey, now that the rally is over
the 90 curtian on practising is lifted, maybe I got back out there next