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Rim report

Hi All!

Sorry for my tardiness in getting my Rim report out...been trying to catch
up on my lack of sleep ;-).  Anyway, Rim turned out to be a VERY interesting
and VERY unusual event.  I flew down from Wa. state, on Thursday night,
where my dad picked me up at the airport.  Buffum, Merrill, Henry Joy, David
Summerbell, and a few others were already there.  The next morning, as I was
reading the first press releases, I soon discovered that Choiniere was not
going to be at Rim because he had an old rib injury flare up and also caught
the flu.  In his place, was rally ace John Buffum.

I also caught up with Rui and Ron Wood on Friday morning, sorting out some
last minute engine details on Rui's car.  The weather couldn't have been
better for Rui, as far as keeping the water temp down.  The air temp was
about 72 during the day with a cool wind going through the valley, and up in
the mountains, it was VERY foggy and overcast, which would throw a monkey
wrench into this whole deal.  Of course there, was Paul Timmerman and his
fiancee, who did EXCEPTIONALLY well on Friday night and throughout the
entire event in the 323 GTX.

Friday night, they started out a bit early to go run 6 stages.  The first
two stages were VERY foggy...the first stage was canceled after the national
cars went through, and the second stage was canceled for all the cars.  The
first stage was very interesting in that Rui actually passed both Buffum and
Carl Merrill on the stage!!  The third stage had Buffum setting the fastest
time, while Rui spun it on one of the faster corners.  Paul T. also set one
of the fastest stage times, and was second in the divisional behind
Rui...only 14 seconds behind!!  On top of that, the Japanese Subaru Impreza
WRX was doing incredibly well and they seemed to adapt to the foggy
conditions better than any of the other teams.  They would lead the rally
after the first night.  The rally was called after three stages.

Saturday morning, there was a charity rally cross in which several of the
competitors including Paul, Rui, Ron, and several others gave rides to
spectators...this seemed to be a really big hit.  Paul and Suzi seemed to be
ready for the challenge and looked to be having a blast as usual! =).  Rui
on the other hand, busted part of the right front corner of the RS2 bumper
in his spin, and later found that his power steering pump had lots of metal
shavings in it, and was beginning to let go.  In the interim I went around
and talked to Buffum regarding some questions I had on the S2, and also
talked to Jeff Becker (Paul Choiniere's co-driver).  Turns out that Jeff is
still a q-nut and has a 90 CQ as his daily driver!!  Now I know why I would
always see him scoping out Rui's car so often ;-).  I also hooked up with
Frank Bauer again and finally got to meet up with Paul Rivera!  From what I
counted, there were 5 of us q-listers out there =).

The first two stages on Sat. were on Del Sur Ridge which literally runs
right on the top of a mountain!  This is the roughest of the stages and one
of the longer stages.  Unfortunately, Rui had another wheel break off the
hub on the first leg, in the left front this time, damaging the left front
suspension and bodywork.  I didn't get to see the damage, so I don't know
the extent, but it sounds pretty bad.  The return leg wasn't any better for
Buffum, as they broke a rear crossmember due to fatigue near the end of the
stage.  That put them out for the event, and gave no points for Hyundai.

The event was starting to look interesting as the Subey was still out in
front with the Mitsu Lancer Evo IV of David Summerbell close behind, and
Henry Joy in third in the Lancer Evo II.  Henry would later have his center
diff freeze, causing the car to stick in RWD, then the rear diff literally
locked up and blew apart...there were small pieces all over the road!  He
dnf'd needless to say.  Summerbell came from behind on the last stage to
take the lead over the Impreza, by 12 seconds and claim the victory.
Summerbell was ecstatic and I was glad to see him win...I had met him
briefly on Friday afternoon, and he seemed like a real nice guy.

Anyway, there were quite a few interesting cars at the event.  There were
Mitsu Lancer Evo II, III, and IV's and of course the WRX Impreza from Japan.
Subaru of America also showed up with a new STi III WRX 2-door in full
555-getup.  I admit that I was drooling HEAVILY over this car =).  I went
over and looked at the car on Saturday morning and noticed on the console,
an adjustable center diff lock, which is just a small switch where you can
literally adjust how well locked the diff is through 6 settings!!  The rep
noticed I spotted this and said I was the only person that spotted that
little jewel AND also knew exactly what it was =).  I had a real good talk
with the two Subey reps for quite a while...they were very friendly and very
straightforward.  I'll be honest...I wouldn't mind one bit, having that
WRX...even being right hand drive.  It was a very clean car and seemed very
well built.  It had a carbon fibre STI strut brace which had a very cool
design.  It also had a BIG IHI turbo and a good sized intercooler.  The car
was also fitted with some massive Subaru 4-pot calipers front and rear, and
was shod with 17" gold 5-spoke rims and Pirelli P-zeros.  Did I mention I
was drooling over this car...oh nevermind ;-).

This was a very interesting rally, and as Paul mentioned, really shook up
the American rallyists.  It'll be interesting to see how this season
progresses.  I overheard Henry talking to Carl Merrill, who was mentioning
that he might run Ojibwe now as well, since he DNF'd at Rim.  Should be
interesting...especially for manufacturer points.

-mark nelson