FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Knoxville, TN (February 16, 2006)
The 2006 Eastern States Rally Championship [ESRC] kicks off this weekend with its first round, the Sandhills Sandblast Rally in Cheraw, South Carolina. The ESRC, a series of stage rally events concentrated in the Eastern US, while covering a geographical area larger than the FIA European Championship, provides a domestic US championship drawing the top names in US rally, without the time and expense required for a national assault.
With a large number of US licensed rally drivers concentrated in the Eastern US, the Sandblast entry list reads like a whose who of the US rally world, and guarantees close competition in this weekend's event. Weather is slated to be clear and warm, hopefully guaranteeing smooth sailing on the difficult sand and clay stages.
Leading the pack in the rally is Irishman Seamus Burke with co-driver Brian Sharkey in the immaculately prepared Shamrock Building Systems Evo VIII, the clear odds-on favorites to take the event. However, expect strong runs from 2005 United States Rally Championship GT Champion Danny O'Brien with co-driver Stephen Duffy in their Subaru WRX, as well as Charles Sherrill, and co-driver Wilson von Kessler in their Sherrill Furniture sponsored Mitsubishi Evo IV. Also don't count out Emilio Arce and co-driver Sarah Gardescu, 2005 USRC Super Stock champions in the their normally aspirated Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, recently returned from the 2006 Challenge sur Glace in Quebec, Canada, having demonstrated their prowess against stronger and more powerful vehicles.
The event is not without some wildcards. New rally competitor Brian Street brings street cred, most recently having run the 2005 Baja 1000 in a Porsche powered buggy. Running a Go Rally prepared Toyota Celica, everybody is wondering whether Go Rally owner and instructor Ivor Wigham will be able to post a podium finish with his new charge.
Organizer Anders Green is excited about the event. "The rally should prove to be a real battle, and despite knowing the skills of every competitor out there, I really can't make a prediction as who will win. I fully expect some surprises on the podium." "I'm certainly excited about the first running after having taken over the organizing duties from Charles Sherrill, and have received nothing but good feedback from the expanded stages, am looking forward to the event," he added.
ESRC Series Coordinator Dr. Kendall Russell of Rally Promotions, LLC, added her two cents. "We know the ESRC will once again provide some of the best competition seen on this side of the Atlantic. Sandblast is an excellent start for what promises to be an excellent year for rallying in the Eastern US."
John K. Shirley, also of Rally Promotions followed, "What's great about the Sandblast is that it is a laid-back rally. Affordable, fun, and safe events is what this sport is about for the clubman competitor, and as always Sandblast is the perfect example."
The 2006 running of the Sandhills Sandblast is sanctioned by NASA Rally Sport, organized by Anders Green and Amy Feistel, and constitutes Round One of the ESRC, coordinated by Rally Promotions, LLC. For more information, visit www.sandblastrally.com or www.nasarallysport.com.