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Laughlin Rally report (longish)

Hi All,

Well, we got back to Reno from Laughlin, at about 6 AM this morning (had to
be back at work today), and I must say this was quite an interesting
inaugural event for the ARSG.  There were three legs, the first of which
started on Friday, all of which started in the morning, and ended in the
early evening.  I wasn't in Laughlin until 2:30 AM Saturday morning, but
already a lot had happened on Friday.

The first leg on Friday, unfortunately brought quick ends to Ron Wood and
Paul Timmerman's rally.  Ron broke his crank in the Quattro, early on
bringing his rally to an end very quickly.  Paul's 323 GTX, which had been
rolled a month earlier and is still in a sorry state, lost a turbo on
Friday, causing much of the oil to be pumped out of the engine.  They
managed to close off the line to the turbo, but ended up doing serious
damage to the engine, and bringing his rally to an end as well =(.

On the other end of the spectrum, New Zealand Rally Champion Geoff Argyle
had taken a ~40 second lead in Mitsu Lancer Evo IV, over the Sprongls' S2,
when Frank had two flat tires (one literally disintegrated) costing him
valuable time.  I saw the remains of one badly mangled Fuchs rim with the
shredded tire, and one other bent Fuchs wheel with a flat.  For Saturday's
super stages, Frank used some generic 5-spoke rims (possibly not to mangle
anymore Fuchs?? =).  Back in third was Rui Brasil in the other Audi S2,
suffering from over boost and fuel management problems.  Carlos (Rui's
co-driver) said they went through two stages in first and second gear
because the car was overboosting so badly, which caused them to loose a few
minutes to the leaders.

Saturday's super stages was quite an event; there were two separate courses
that were identical to each other, and were brilliantly designed.  I worked
out in the middle of the course during those stages to assist any potential
stuck cars (fortunately didn't have any where I was).  This had to be the
best rally spectating I had ever seen; especially to see Frank and Geoff
Argyle go at it.  The idea that the modern Gr. A cars are faster than the
Gr. B cars certainly didn't hold true in the three head-to-head battles
between the two very talented drivers.  The 400+ BHP S2 simply smoked the
Evo IV in power, and watching Frank slam the car through the corner at full
boost was simply awe-inspiring; there's a BIG difference between listening
to that "old" A2 10vt and seeing it on videos; it was simply unbelievable
how fast the car was and how bitchn' that Lehmann motor sounded!!!  Frank
almost always trounced the Mitsu by at least 5 or 6 seconds, even when he
would make a mistake or two.  On the other hand, Geoff Argyle was very
spectacular to watch and knew how to wheel that Gr. A car, although I think
Frank has the upper hand in driving ability.  Of course the bad part about
watching Rui and Frank's S2's, was that it made me envious that I didn't
have my car finished =(.

The other really good battle was between Rui's S2 and Lauchlin O'Sullivan in
Rui's old 4ktq, which really gave a good perspective of how much faster the
new S2 is, although Lauchlin's driving ability and smooth lines, in addition
to Rui's overboost problems at full throttle, made the competition very
interesting to watch!

Sunday's stages were a whole different beast.  These stages went out into
the Arizona desert north of Kingman, on the west rim of the Grand Canyon.
The weather in the area was VERY abnormal; temperatures dropped into the
twenties, and when we left at 6:00 AM to head out to the stage, it had
started snowing in Kingman, and by the time we reached the stages, there was
a good 5 inches on the roads!!  All my dad and I could think of, as we drove
out there was, "Sprongl is going to kick some serious a#*!!!!" =).  We ended
up doing finish and start control for stages 12 and 17 respectively (run in
each direction).  Argyle started first on the road as he still had just a
slight lead over Sprongl, even after Saturday's trouncing.  There was one
stage before us they had to run, and it looked like Frank had already made
up 1 minute + on Argyle in the snow in the two stages.  As Argyle came into
the finish control, he said he was not having much fun in the snow and not
having good times.  It turned out that Rui and Carlos had the second fastest
times in the snow behind the Sprongls almost all day (exception of one
stage, where Rui and Carlos went off - more later) usually within 2 - 6% of
the Sprongls' times!!!!  Unfortunately, he had lost too much time earlier in
the rally to pass Argyle =(.  Stage 12 was VERY unfriendly for the RWD cars
though, as several cars got stuck on the bottom of some of the steeper
hills, and several slid off the road into embankments and such.  Because of
all the problems we had on this stage, Ray Hocker decided to have the
competitors transit the stage when they came back.  By the time they came
back, Sprongl was on his snow tires (they were the only team that had them!)
and had trounced the competition by 7 minutes.  At the end of the rally,
Sprongl and Argyle did donuts in the hotel parking lot after the event (on
dry pavement!) =).

The fun didn't end there for us though, as several RWD rally cars got stuck
on some of the slippery hills just transiting, and myself (I was in my Jeep
Cherokee) and the Sweenies (in a BIG F350 4x4)  had to perform recovery
duty, simply because we were the only two with 4wd's that had Posi and
decent BFG AT's (the other sweep vehicles were an Infinity POS and Dodge
Durango with next to worthless street tires).  Then, I ended up pulling a
worker's BMW up half a dozen hills when they'd get stuck; the good part was
that I had talked the guy into buying a Quattro, especially after he watched
Frank and Rui! =). It took  a frustrating 2.5 hours to go 8 miles with all
these RWD cars.

In retrospect, I was VERY impressed with how well Rui did on the wide gravel
rally tires in the snow (he said it didn't turn well though), and how well
Guy Light did in his RWD GMC Sonoma pickup (5th overall).  Rui did manage to
rearrange the bodywork in front of the right rear wheel, when they slid
sideways into a big stubborn rock =(.  Then there's Frank, who seemed to be
right at home on the snow and ice, as we expected.  This is definitely going
to be an event to remember, and will be talked about for years to come.  For
more details, check out: http://rallyusa.com

-mark nelson

'90 s2 (unpainted, but pretty much there)
'90 cq (daily driver; two tone brown and pearl white ;-)
'85 4kq
'86 4kcsq (parts car)