FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Elkins, WV August 24, 2008
Competitors, volunteers and spectators converged on the mountains of nothern Appalachia for the third annual Rally West Virginia. The event, headquartered in Elkins, was the third event in the Atlantic Rally Cup and the Atlantic RallyMoto(TM) Cup; it was also the second MaxAttack!(TM) event of the season. The first two events of the Cup included sand and tarmac roads so, Rally West Virginia was the first gravel rally for series competitors and meant an extra challenge as teams adjust to the changing terrain.
The event began on Friday, August 1, 2008 with a half-day of stages for the cars and one stage for the motorcycles. No one could ask for better weather by Friday midday -- bright blue skies, a few wandering clouds and a light breeze met the competitors at the airport service park and parc expose. The roads of Rally West Virginia are unpredictable. A smooth set of sweeping corners may tempt a driver and navigator to settle into a rhythm, only to be caught off-guard in an elevation change through a tight corner. Stage One of the day took its toll on the car field, with six cars that did not finish. These included two notable offs from Joseph Burke and Ole Holter in an Modified 2 Acura Integra and Don and Matt Kennedy in a Production 1 Subaru Impreza. The terrifying roll-over of the Kennedy's Impreza left a trail of parts and papers in the stage as the following two cars came up on the incident and checked to make sure Don and Matt were OK. In true rally spirit, though, competitors were greeted by Don and Matt Kennedy volunteering at the start control only an hour later! Another three teams did not finish the day's stages.
Evan Moen and Heath Nunnemacher (Modified 1 Integra Type R), at their first NASA Rally Sport event, who exceeded their maximum permitted lateness, did manage to recover from their stage issues to complete the day. Chad Eixenberger and Ben Slocum, other newcomers to NASA Rally Sport in a Modified 2 VW Golf, finished first in class on Friday. The motorcycles previewed the stages midday and then competed in the late afternoon. The motorcycle stage ran smoothly with all RallyMoto(TM) competitors finishing the day.
Overnight repairs were made in the nick of time before a powerful thunderstorm hit the region. Saturday dawned cooler and overcast but soon brightened up as cars and motorcycles arrived for parc expose in the Tygart Valley. The rain meant a softer road surface that would turn slippery as cars and motorcycles took multiple runs on each stage. Michael Hordjik and Chad Sechrist in a Modified 1 (biodiesel) VW Golf TDI made some impressive stage times to finish second in class. Over the course of the day, another five cars and three motorcycles would withdraw or not finish the stages. Mike Gilkey, competing in the Atlantic RallyMoto(TM) Cup, took a hard knock on his KTM 690 Enduro during stage one. He picked up the bike and completed the stage but withdrew before the next stage. It was a disappointing end for a top position contender. Otis Dimiters and Dominik Jozwiak experienced a multiple roll on Day 2 Stage 8 which quickly ended their seemingly solid fix on first place.
RallyMoto(TM) competition was tough as competitors continued to battle current Cup champion Mark Ely and his Aprilia SXV 5.5 on the stages. Newcomer Chris Herman performed well at his first gravel rally of the season and finished third on a KTM 530 EXC-R, and only 5 seconds behind Doug Morrison who rode a BMW R1200 HP2. Seth Strait was notably quick -- he compared times and surprised himself with a top-five finish! It appears gravel suits Strait well. Although many riders made a hard charge for first, none successfully unseated Ely for the top position.
Top finishers in car class for Saturday included Martin Donnelly and Stephen Duffy in a Production 1 Mitsubishi Evo 8, Eric Burmeister and Dave Shindle in a Modified 1 Mazda 3, David and Tammy Allan in their Super Stock Subaru Impreza, Anders Green and Amy Feistel in their Production 2 Subaru Impreza, Dan Brosnan and Shane McCann in a Modified 2 Nissan Sentra, and Hampton Bridwell and Josh Katinger in a Rally Spec Focus. MaxAttack! winners Eric Burmeister and Dave Shindle had an outstanding performance in their lightening quick Mazda 3 and generously donated their winnings back into the pool for the year-end MaxAttack! award.