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Los Angeles – The 2016 California Rally Series (CRS) Season begins this weekend with the High Desert Trails Rally near Ridgecrest, CA. Competitors will tackle over 100 miles of competitive stages on Saturday, May 7th as they race from the desert floor up into the forest on top of Piute Mountain on some of the most scenic stages in Southern California.
Twenty –four teams are registered for the event, with the husband and wife team of Chris and Lori O’Driscoll seeded at the front of the pack in their Open Four-Wheel Drive Class Subaru WRX. Right behind them is Irishman John Coyne driving a Subaru Impreza, with veteran Doug Nagy as his co-driver. Mr. Coyne made the move into the Subaru from two-wheel drive last season and has been getting faster and faster. Jason Copt and Cameron Meng will also be battling for the overall win in their Open Four-wheel Drive class Subaru WRX STI. Meanwhile, last year’s Open Lite champions Stephen Benson and Nicholas Renold are making the move into Open Four-Wheel drive, and it will be exciting to watch them taking the fight in the more powerful class.
Husband and wife team Markus and Alicia Saarinen have won the small displacement, two-wheel drive CRS-2 class for the last two years, and are looking to make it a hat trick in 2016. They return to High Desert Trails in their Mini Cooper as the favorites in that class. Fighting behind them in what promises to be a very close battle are Mike Hurst and Michel Hoche-Mong in a Ford Capri, 2009 CRS-2 champion Chris Palermo and Andres Bautista in a Nissan Sentra SE-R, Erik Christiansen and Amy Floyd in a VW Golf GTI, father and son team Larry and Lance Gross in their Toyota Corolla, and Javier Olivares and Brock Heinz in their Ford Escort. That group will no doubt be trading stage times all day.
This season marks the return of the large-displacement/turbo two-wheel drive class CRS-5. This class had been dropped the last few seasons due to low participation, but has been reinstated for 2016 after a large amount of interest. 2013 Open Lite champ Ray Piloto and co-driver Brock Palmer are the current class favorites in their turbocharged Chevy Sonic RS. They will be battling Andy Cowan and Ryan Dunham in a VW Jetta VR6. Cowan and Dunham made their CRS debut at High Desert Trails last year and have been getting faster at every event.
Favored for the class win in Open Lite are Thaddeus Roebuck and Aaron Schroeder in their Subaru Impreza. The team finished third in class here last year and is looking to improve on that podium performance. They face a challenge from Michael Seidman and Ericka Sacks, also competing in a Subaru Impreza.
In the production-based two-wheel drive Performance Stock class, 2014 class champions Tony Chavez and Raquel Salas, another husband and wife team, return to make a run at yet another top spot in their VW Golf. They will be up against another VW Golf, this one piloted by Richard Burden and Christopher Fine. Performance Stock class has a long history in the CRS, dating back over twenty years, with a reputation as a true driver’s class. Expect to see some exciting racing here this weekend.
The High Desert Trails Rally was first run in 1973 on roads to the Southeast and West of Ridgecrest, CA. This year’s event features over 100 stage miles in a one-day compact format. Located just two and a half hours north of Los Angeles, the competitor and spectator friendly format makes this a perfect season opener for the California Rally Series. For more information on the High Desert Trails Rally, visit http://highdeserttrails.com.
The California Rally Series is the premier performance rally championship in the southwestern United States. The Series incorporates events from various sanctioning bodies in order to create a meaningful regional championship for its members. The Series celebrates more than 40 continuous years of performance rally, making it the longest running rally series in the United States. To learn more about the California Rally Series visit www.californiarallyseries.com and follow @crspress on twitter.
California Rally Series RallyCross drivers launched into what will be a historic 2016 race season with more points competitions calendared than any previous year. Sunday, February 14th, 72 competitors met at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California to burn the dust off their race cars and heat up their driving skills in the season opening event. Officially a part of the JayCom “Glen Helen” series, this race doubled as a points carrying California Rally Series (CRS) event. Competition was fierce as drivers negotiated the newly resurfaced venue; dodging rocks and cones. Outstanding driving skills were on display in nine different car classes. A beautiful Southern California spring day began with the Stock 2 Wheel Drive class spectators still holding onto their hot coffee and culminated with Modified All Wheel Drive blasting around the course into the sunset.
A quick turnaround to the next stop in this season’s CRS RallyCross Championship series is a notably different experience on the tackier, traditionally fast and technical course at the Empire Fairgrounds in Ridgecrest, California. Competition will intensify as competitors are combined to run in four classes: Stock 2 Wheel Drive, Stock All Wheel Drive, Modified 2 Wheel Drive and Modified All Wheel Drive. This event is the second half of a double-feature weekend that commences with the CRS Rally School on Saturday, February 20th. CRS Rally School and RallyCross has been the initiating experience for many of today’s RallyCross Championship drivers. Experienced drivers in attendance at Ridgecrest this weekend will provide instruction as CRS welcomes a new crop of drivers to the School. Everyone will have an amazing opportunity to experience the brotherhood/sisterhood of the RallyCross community when they compete side by side on Sunday, February 21st in the CRS Rally School RallyCross Event.
Following the February 21st race, CRS RallyCross drivers have at least six more opportunities to showcase their driving skills and car stamina at events scheduled through the end of the year. Event dates and registration information is available at californiarallyseries.com. And look for our community on Facebook: California Rally Series RallyCross Community.