FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cheraw, SC February 18, 2007
*Donnelly's new car demands respect
*Just seconds per stage determine second place
A new champion has been crowned for the Sandblast Rally and taken home the crystal! It seems that 2007 is starting off to a fantastic start for driver Celcus Donnelly and codriver Noel Gallagher. Donnelly has built a new Evo 8 for this year and the potential is just explosive.
When asked about his new ride, Donnelly remarked, "It's a big step up even from my last car, which was quick. I think I'll be able to take it to Seamus with this one." Initial reports are that this may indeed be the case as unofficial times were exchanged between codrivers Gallagher and Eddie Fries. Unfortunately, Seamus Burke's car withdrew just after the start of the rally with mechanical troubles as Burke is fine-tuning the performance of his new engine. "You always want to win it on the stages, of course," said Donnelly at the awards party, "but I'm happy with the power of the car and the season looks good."
The battle for second place had plenty of drama, as Enda McCormack burst out of the gate. Bob Wall spent the rest of the day reeling him in, with their times for Stage 4 differing by only one second. Wall initially reported that the additional power of his new Subaru WRX Sti was enough to surprise him all over again in regard to the performance envelope of these cars, but the novelty factor was overcome.
Stage 5 saw Wall turn up the wick and grab a full twenty seconds back for himself. This began his climb up the leader board and by the last stage he had managed to wrest second place from McCormack.
A large two wheel drive contingent arrived at the event ready to challenge the car-swallowing sand as much as each other. For the more powerful two wheel driver cars, the intimate road knowledge held by former event organizer Greg Healey was unbeatable, and he took first in the Modified 1 category. Following with second in class was the RallyTruck, a long-time Sandblast crowd favorite, piloted by Mike Hall and Dave Stockdill.
Josh Wimpey and Jeremy Wimpey proved that it is not always about your drive train, as their small displacement two wheel drive car muscled its way up to an astonishing seventh overall in the deep sand. Rafal Listopad and Gregorz Dorman were unable to match the pace, and took second behind the Wimpey team. Note to editors:
Sandblast Rally took place in and around the towns of Cheraw, Patrick, and Chesterfield, South Carolina.
The rally occurred on Saturday February 17th.
Royalty free images available: (http://www.sandblastrally.com).
Sandblast Rally is the first rally of the Eastern States Rally Championship season sanctioned by NASA Rally Sport.
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