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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.
Los Angeles – The 2013 Prescott Rally marked the finish of the 2013 California Rally Series (CRS) Championship. Twenty teams took the start of the two day event that covered over 110 stage miles on October 4-5. The stages located northeast of Prescott, AZ offered a stunning backdrop with red canyons and beautiful vistas.
The new to CRS team of Tingwu Song and Martin Brady, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution came into Prescott as the Open four-wheel drive class leaders thanks to overall wins at the Mendocino and Gorman rallies. The team started off the Friday night stages by trading stage times with Chris and Lori O’Driscoll in their Subaru. By the end of the night, the O’Driscolls had the advantage, winning Friday’s event by just 7 seconds over Song/Brady. Saturday’s stages marked a separate event in the championship, and Song/Brady started off by winning the first two stages. However, a flat on stage three cost Song/Brady over thirty seconds and the O’Driscolls moved back into the lead. Song/Brady charged back to win the last five stages and take the overall win, cementing their championship victory. Chris Psara came into Prescott second place in the championship, and nearly threw it all away when he and co-driver David Ault rolled their Subaru WRX STI on the third stage, but remarkably the car landed on its wheels and the team finished the stage with little more than a flat tire! The team took a conservative approach on Saturday and managed to finish the event and secure second place in the driver’s championship for Psara. James Riley and John Dillon drove a clean race in their Subaru WRX. Their solid finish earned Riley and Dillon enough points to finish third and second in the driver’s and co-driver’s championships, respectively. Rookie John Trucks and co-driver Chris Fine showed phenomenal improvement, finishing sixth in class on Friday, but managing an impressive third in class on Saturday’s stages, where they set consistently fast times on each stage.
The hotly contested small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class had three teams with a shot at the championship coming into the weekend. Husband and wife team Kris and Christine Marciniak threw down the gauntlet from the very first stage, setting times in their normally aspirated Dodge Neon that put them among the turbocharged Subarus and Mitsubishi!
Prescott veteran Brian Scott is used to running at the front of the pack in his Subaru, but showed up in a historic liveried Datsun 240Z. He teamed up with co-driver Michel Hoche-Mong, who happens to be last year’s CRS-2 driver champion. The Marciniaks took the win on Friday night, but Scott/Hoche-Mong got faster and faster all weekend, and wound up taking the win on Saturday, with the Marciniaks in second place. The finish yielded enough points to solidify the season victory for Kris and Christine in the driver and co-driver’s championships. Jason Lightner came into Prescott as the CRS-2 points leader, but battled brake issues in his Porsche. A fifth place on Friday and fourth place on Saturday meant he slipped to second place in the championship. Meanwhile, Markus and Alicia Saarinen showed impressive speed in their Mini, finishing third in class on both days. They were plagued by suspension issues earlier this season and seemed happy to have the car sorted out.
In the popular Performance Stock (P-Stock) class, the father and son team of Sarkis and Michael Mazmanian came in as the points leaders and their dominance continued through Friday, where they once again won the class. However, after dodging a bullet with a minor off that could have been much worse on the fourth stage on Saturday, bad luck struck them on the very last stage when they holed the fuel tank in their Acura Integra, forcing them to retire. Fortunately, the team had collected enough points to clinch the P-Stock driver and co-driver championships. Taking the class victory on Saturday after coming in second on Friday were Jen Imai and Terry Stonecipher in their Suzuki Swift. The finish left them in second place in the driver’s and co-driver’s class championships.
The normally aspirated four-wheel drive CRS Open Lite class had but one entry this weekend, but a solid and clean drive from newcomer Kurt Smith saw him earn enough points to tie for second in the championship with Daniel Rockrohr. Driver Ray Piloto did not make it out to Prescott, but he had previously earned enough points this season to clinch the driver’s championship.
The 26th Annual Prescott Rally took place on smooth dirt roads outside of Prescott, AZ on October 4-5, 2013. The rally is a favorite among CRS competitors for its flowing stages and breathtaking views. For more information on the Prescott Rally, visit http://www.prescottrally.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.
Final 2013 CRS Rally standings can be found here as well as the link above in the menu bar. Congratulations to our class winners!
1st place drivers:
Open 4wd: Tingwu Song
CRS-2: Kris Marciniak
CRS Open Lite: Ray Piloto
Performance Stock: Sarskis Mazmanian
CRS-5: Jeff Rados
1st place co-drivers:
Open 4wd: Martin Brady
CRS-2 Christine Marciniak
CRS Open Lite: Tyler Deal
Performance Stock: Michael Mazmanian
CRS-5: Guido Hamacher