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Los Angeles – The California Rally Series heads to Northern California with the Mendocino Rally on August 4th, 2012. Fourteen teams are set to compete on fifty miles of twisty hard packed dirt roads outside of Ukiah, CA. New for 2012, teams will be provided with stage notes to help them navigate the extremely technical course. With over ten lines of instructions per miles, co-drivers will definitely have their work cut out for them!
The top seeded team is Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi, who won the event last year in their Subaru Impreza. The team will be looking to redeem themselves after a mistake at the last event in North Nevada caused them to get stuck off the road and cost them an overall victory. They will face stiff competition in the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class from Aaron Ekinaka and Marra Estep, also competing in a Subaru Impreza. Ekinaka hasn’t competed since the Gorman Rally last Summer, but he took the class win over Rademacher at that event, so expect a tight battle between the two Impreza drivers at Mendocino. Also fighting for class points are Ray Piloto in his Subaru and Michael Carnes and Reza Yazdani in their Audi 4000CS.
Michel Hoche-Mong is the current points leader in the small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class, and is a favorite to extend his lead. Look for him to be pushing his VW Golf to its limits in a fight for the overall podium. Meanwhile, the team of Erik Christiansen/Amy Floyd, also in a VW Golf, will also be pushing to score championship class points in order to move up the leaderboard.
In the production-based two-wheel drive P-Stock class, the two teams who have been battling all season will be at it again in Mendocino. Sarkis Mazmanian currently has a narrow lead in the year end points total. He is teaming up with veteran co-driver John Dillon in hopes of taking the class win in their Acura Integra. Hoping to usurp the lead is John Black, who pairs up once again with Lori Stone in their Ford Ranger. The two drivers have been trading stage times all season long, so the class competition should be extremely close.
The 2012 Mendocino Rally is based in Ukiah, CA. The rally features nearly 50 miles of hard-packed twisty stages contained within the South Cow Mountain off-road vehicle park. For more information on the Mendocino Rally visit http://www.mendocinorally.com.
Los Angeles – The back-country roads of northern Nevada set the stage for the California Rally Series as fifteen teams contested the North Nevada Rally July 6 & 7, 2012 covering over one hundred miles of competitive stages. The first day featured a set of smooth gravel roads near Lovelock, NV as cars raced into the night. The next morning the rally moved northwest to the fast and tricky roads outside of Gerlach, NV. Twelve teams made it to the finish on the final day, ending just before sunset.
Locals Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi took top honors on Friday night, winning the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class and besting the entire field in their Subaru Impreza RS. Alex has run this event every year since its inception in 2008 and his knowledge of the roads paid dividends in the darkness Friday night. They fought a tight battle with Leelyn Pritchard and Logan Mineer, who were also competing in a Subaru Impreza. Pritchard/Mineer were only 13 seconds behind after the first five stages when they went off the road and rolled on stage six. The team was uninjured, but their car was too badly damaged to continue. Rademacher/Yi nearly suffered the same fate on Saturday when they planted their car about ten feet down off the road on the day’s fourth stage. They were eventually able to get the car extracted, but not after losing well over an hour. Ray Piloto, also driving a Subaru Impreza, ended up taking the CRS-GT class win on Saturday in his debut event.
The always popular small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class saw plenty of action all weekend. In the dark on Friday CRS veterans Chuck Wilson and Brent Ellzey scored the maximum points in their Ford Escort. Brent Hercelinsky and Alex Orozco finished less than thirty seconds behind in their Suzuki Swift to claim second. Saturday only competitors Erik Christiansen and Amy Floyd managed to take the honors on Saturday in their VW GTI, with Wilson/Ellzey scoring second place points.
P-Stock, the production-based two-wheel drive class once again came down to a battle between the Acura Integra of Sarkis Mazmanian and the Ford Ranger of John Black, who have been in close competition all season. Each driver paired with a new co-driver for this event: Mazmanian with Michael Mazmanian and Black with Marra Estep. Friday saw Black/Estep take the class victory after the Mazmanians suffered a setback on the very first stage. The tables were turned on Saturday, however, and the Mazmanians took the victory by only 14 seconds after trading stage times all day long!
Known for its smooth stages, challenging switchbacks, and the famous "Cow Corner" hairpin, the 2012 running of the North Nevada Rally will be a two-day event, with 40 miles of stages on Friday July 6th followed by 80 miles on Saturday July 7th.
The Friday stages will begin in the evening in Lovelock, NV. The competitors will get a "preview" of the stages by running 20 miles before nightfall. Then, after dark, they will run the same stages in the opposite direction.
Saturday will return to the well-known stages near Gerlach, home of Burning Man. The southern stage dips through some sandy washes, then leads to two big jumps, followed by a run through a canyon leading to the "Cow Corner" hairpin. The northern stage is of a completely different character, with tight turns and switchbacks leading up to the pass of Purgatory Peak.
Now in its fifth year, the two-day event is a premier event in both the California Rally Series and the SouthWest Rallycup Series. The event will also be part of the Joshua A. Norton Rally Championship.
More information as well as competitor and volunteer registration can be found here: North Nevada Rally.
Los Angeles – The 2012 California Rally Series (CRS) started off with a packed field of twenty-four teams competing at the High Desert Trails Rally. Based in Ridgecrest, CA, the rally featured high-speed hard packed dirt stages with sections of tarmac.
Keith Jackson and Marra Estep returned to the CRS in their Subaru WRX STI after taking a hiatus from the stages last year. The team showed no sign of being rusty, as they dominated the event right from the start. They won all eight stages outright, to cement not only their win in the Open four-wheel drive class but also a cash prize of $100 for fastest four-wheel drive on the new for 2012 Dirftish Power Stage. Finishing second in class were Cem Akdeniz and Mustafa Samli in another Subaru Impreza. 2011 class champion Jon Burke and co-driver Zachery Dickinson were running in a solid second place for the first half of the event before breaking down on stage five.
Last year’s event winners Bill Holmes and Sean Gallagher were once again blisteringly fast in their Ford F-150. The team took the CRS-5 (large displacement, two-wheel drive) class win, as well as the $100 cash prize for fastest two-wheel drive on the Dirftish Power Stage, and finished an impressive second overall.
The small-displacement, two-wheel drive class (CRS-2) was dominated by the team of Eddie Fiorelli and Tom Smith in their Volkswagen Golf GTI. They finished a full three and a half minutes ahead of second place finishers Sean Lane and Christian Coulter in their Dodge Neon, who narrowly edged out the Mitsubishi Galant of Javier Olivarez by less than a minute.
The production-based, four-wheel drive CRS-GT saw the closest battle of the event, with 2011 champions Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi taking the win in their Subaru Impreza by less than a minute over fellow Subaru drivers Leelyn Pritchard and Logan Mineer. The two teams traded stage times all day long, pushing each other to finish third and fourth overall.
For the second year in a row, the production-based two-wheel drive class win went to CRS veteran Tony Chavez and his navigator Raquel Salas. Chavez & Salas were so fast they managed to beat even the CRS-2 teams on the last few stages, including setting a shockingly fast time on the Dirftish Power Stage. The team pedaled their VW Golf to an over seven minute lead ahead of the second place team Sarkis Mazmanian and Arin Hovsepian in their Acura Integra.
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 9 & 10. 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. After running for the past two years at a motorsports facility on the edge of town, the rally moved to some never before run roads for 2011. For more information on the High Desert Trails Rally, visit http://highdeserttrails.com and follow @crspress on twitter.
Los Angeles – The second event of the 2012 California Rally Series (CRS) Championship took place on June 9 and 10 at the Idaho Rally, based in Boise, ID. The rally featured ten competitive hard packed dirt and gravel stages in the nearby mountains and forests over two days. Unseasonably cold weather saw snowflakes falling at the higher elevations, a rare occurrenceduring California Rally Series events. The frigid conditions left many teams scrambling for proper tires, as nearly everyone brought hard compounds, expecting a typical summer rally. Consequently many teams started the event with less than ideal equipment.
The hottest competition of the weekend was in the production-based two-wheel drive “Performance Stock” class, which has become a CRS mainstay over the past decades. Taking the victory on the Saturday event were Sarkis Mazmanian and Arin Hovsepain in their Acura Integra. After over an hour of competitive driving, they edged out John Black and Lori Stone in their Ford Ranger by only three minutes. The tables were turned on Sunday though, when Black/Stone fought back to best Mazmanian/Hovsepain by just 40 seconds and claim the class win. The Saturday victory means Mazmanian and Hovsepain hold the P-Stock championship lead going into the next event.
The small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class is typically one of the more popular classes to watch, and once again represented the largest field in the event. The class started off with an extremely tight battle between Michel Hoche-Mong and the team of Sean Lane and Christian Coulter who nearly matched Hoche-Mong’s pace on the first stage. Lane/Coulter pushed even harder on stage two, but perhaps a little too hard as they went off the road and rolled their Dodge Neon, ending their weekend. Bad luck also befell the next nearest class competitors Chuck Wilson and Brent Ellzey, who also went off the road in their Ford Escort, forcing them to withdraw on Saturday after stage 2. Despite the withdrawal of his class competitors, Hoche-Mong did not cruise to the finish, but continued to push his VW Golf GTI to the limit. He set the fastest two-wheel drive times on every single stage, both Saturday and Sunday. Meanwhile, Wilson/Ellzey were able to rejoin for Sunday’s event, where they took second place in class to Hoche-Mong.
In the production based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class, Alex Rademacher and Jeanne Yi continued their winning streak from the previous event, claiming the class win in their Subaru Impreza on both Saturday and Sunday. Their rally was not without challenges, as an impact with a rock caused a flat tire and severe alignment issues on stage two. The team made repairs in service and were able to continue, making up time over the subsequent stages.
The California Rally Series championship continues July 6-7 with the North Nevada Rally, based in Fernley, NV. The upcoming event features 120 miles of smooth gravel stage with challenging switchbacks. The Friday stages southwest of Lovelock, NV start before sundown, and then competitors run them in reverse direction after dark. Saturday the competitors return to the well-known stages near Gerlach, featuring sandy washes, big jumps and tight, tricky turns. For more information on the North Nevada Rally, visit http://www.northnevadarally.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 35 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.
Banner photo credit: Seana Christine
Attention Rally Enthusiasts. The Glen Helen RallyCross season is set to begin in just one week. If you haven’t already signed up, be sure to do so ASAP. We currently sitting at 58 entrants and to preserve event quality will be cutting off entries at 70.