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Los Angeles – The 40th anniversary season of the California Rally Series (CRS) began May 3rd with the High Desert Trails Performance Rally, in Ridgecrest, CA. With new roads for 2014, the rally was extended to 127 total stage miles over two points-earning events all in one compact day. The new stages gave the rally a wide variety of scenery as the teams race from 1,800 feet all the way up to 7,000 feet and back down again! Located in the Jawbone Canyon / Piute Mountain area just 2.5 hours north of Los Angeles, the stages form a loop on what is considered one of the most scenic backroads in Southern California.
Winning both events overall was the Open class team of Todd McAllister and co-driver Trent Bateman. The team drove a clean rally in their Subaru STI, narrowly edging out the team of John Trucks and co-driver Christopher Fine, who took second place in both events, also driving a Subaru STI. McAllister/Bateman continued pushing to the very end, winning the final stage, dubbed the “Power Stage,” overall and most impressively setting a new record time for the Power Stage despite running after dark! Last year’s overall winners Jonathan Burke and co-driver Tom Morningstar took an early lead, but fell victim to numerous mechanical issues that forced them to withdraw from the event.
In the small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class, son and father team Bret and Doug Robinson claimed the class win for the first event, “Chaparral Stages.” Unfortunately, a stalling issue in their VW GTI led to their retirement on a transit during the evening’s event, “Mojave Stages.” Their withdrawal allowed the husband and wife team of Erik Christiansen and Amy Floyd (also driving a VW GTI) to claim the class win for Mojave Stages, after finishing second to the Robinsons during Chaparral Stages. Christiansen/Floyd capped off the event by setting the fastest 2wd time on the Power Stage.
In the popular Performance Stock (P-Stock) class, CRS veteran Tony Chavez and his co-driver/wife Raquel Salas claimed first place in both events. The team almost succumbed to overheating issues when their radiator fan stopped working, but fellow competitors worked together to rewire their fan, keeping them on the road.
The CRS championship moves from the deserts of southern California to the mountains of Idaho for the next event on the calendar, the Idaho Rally International, June 21 & 22, 2014. The two day event features over 100 miles of twisty, hard packed stages that attracts teams from all over the Western United States.
The High Desert Trails Rally was first run in 1973 on roads to the southeast and west of Ridgecrest, CA. For 2014, the rally added new roads at high elevation around Sorrell Peak that gave the rally a unique, eclectic flavor. 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 2014 season marks the 40th anniversary of the California Rally Series, 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.
Los Angeles - The California Rally Series (CRS) Championship season begins May 3 with the High Desert Trails Rally. Based out of Ridgecrest, CA, the rally takes place on Kern County roads in the Jawbone Valley and Piute Mountain area just two and a half hours north of Los Angeles. The rally features new roads for 2014, expanding to a total of 127 stage miles with a new, spectator friendly format. The rally concludes with a fifteen mile “power stage” where competitors reverse order in a final sprint for prizes.
CRS Open Class will be the one to watch, with Open Class vehicles comprising over half the field. Last year’s winning team, Jonathan Burke and co-driver Tom Morningstar return with their Subaru WRX. The team will face stiff competition from fellow Open Class competitors Hakan Okcuoglu and co-driver Sean McElwain in their Eagle Talon as well as John Trucks and co-driver Christopher Fine in a Subaru WRX STI. CRS veteran and HDT alumni Chuck Wilson and co-driver Leelyn Pritchard could be spoilers in their Subaru WRX STI.
The Open Lite class consists of normally aspirated four-wheel drive cars. Returning this year are Michael Carnes and co-driver Reza Yazdani in their Audi 4000CS. The team only made it through one full stage at last year’s event before being forced to retire with engine trouble. They hope their luck changes for the better in 2014.
Tony Chavez and co-driver Raquel Salas are entered in their Performance-Stock Class Volkswagen GTI. Tony is a fast driver with decades of experience in the CRS. The team missed the class win by less than a minute last year, so no doubt they will be pushing for not only a class victory, but a spot on the overall podium this year.
The small-displacement, two wheel drive class CRS-2 Class is shaping up to be a battle between three Volkswagens and a Ford Escort. Son and father team Bret and Doug Robinson had mechanical issues sideline their VW Golf on the final stage last year. This year they return to High Desert Trails with their sights set on a class win. Eddie Fiorelli is reunited with co-driver Brent Ellzey after nearly five years since they raced together. Fiorelli just rebuilt his VW GTI after a component failure caused him to crash midway through last season, but he took the class win here in 2012 so expect them to be fast. In the third VW are husband and wife team Erik Christiansen and co-driver Amy Floyd. They finished second in class at last year’s event, so will be hoping to move into the top spot. Rounding out the competition in CRS-2 are Javier Olivares and Gian Castellanos in a Ford Escort. Olivares finished third in CRS-2 in the 2012 event, when he was driving a Mitsubishi Galant. The switch to a Ford Escort might be just what he needs to move up the leaderboard.
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 new sections of road for 2014, and over 127 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.