FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cheraw, SC March 18, 2013
There was a large field of racers at Sandblast Rally, the first round of the Atlantic Rally Cup presented by RallyPro at the FIRM, and there were no easy victories. Two teams won the battle to the top, Jason Smith with navigator Jared Lantzy in All Wheel Drive, and Kevin Turner and Matt Rhoads in Two Wheel Drive. The rally, with over three hours of live stage-side coverage streamed live to the internet, ran smoothly and was well supported by the hosting towns of Cheraw, Patrick, and Chesterfield in South Carolina.
The Two Wheel Drive class had a last minute change that turned out to be a big change up. Pilot Paul Ferreira with navigator Ozgur Simsek came out strong in his Honda Civic, winning the first stage by 28 seconds. Kevin Turner and codriver Matt Rhoads, in their front wheel drive Subaru Impreza responded by turning up the wick on the next stage, matching Ferreira's speed. Ferreira came back on stage three with a blistering drive that pulled 42 seconds on Turner. With an established lead and looking to be the final victor, Ferreira, who's loud, high-reving car was a crowd favorite, continued to widen the gap, until he was catastrophically taken out with mechanical issues prior to the final stage.
This promoted Turner to the lead, and also, critically, left Turner to pedal the fastest two wheel drive time on the final stage, resulting in instant qualification to the NASA National Rally Championship. Brad Morris with navigator Doug Nagy in their Mitsubishi Lancer captured second place with a focused and disciplined drive. Carlos Filipe and Aris Mantopoulous brought out a fantastically prepared Peugeot 206 which they brought home to the final podium spot.
The All Wheel Drive division also had it's share of podium drama take place, although earlier in the race. Jason Smith and navigator Jared Lantzy in their Subaru Impreza managed to just squeak a win on the first stage, which left Pete Hascher and navigator Greg Dorman in their Subaru WRX STi just seconds out of qualification. Also part of this tight grouping was Dunker Felix and navigator Santiago Jarrin, with their Subaru WRX in third. Smith widened the gap on stage two, and Hascher brought the fight back to him on stage three. Ultimately Smith kept the skinny pedal down longer as the day wore on and vehicles battled the sand, and his lead over Hascher grew. And when if finally came down to that last stage and the instant qualification, for the NASA National Rally Championship, Hascher was just seconds out of taking, leaving the honor of the first qualifier of the year to Smith.
Sebastian Kokoszka was the fastest RallySolo driver, and without the aid of a codriver took fourth overall. We should also note the very promising opening performances of Colin Bombara and George Georgakopoulos, who both put in inspired drives early in the race, but were ultimately DNF. Other names to watch are Hollen Groff, a proven performer in the series who didn't manage to bring it home at this year, and Matt Gottlieb, whose early time seems like it would have tracked to a podium position if he could bring it the full distance.
The next stop on the calendar for the Atlantic Rally Cup presented by RallyPro at the FIRM is the Empire State Performance Rally. Coming up quickly on the weekend of April 20, the teams will all switch to tarmac tires to roar through the closed roads of Rock Hill, New York, just ninety minutes from New York City.
NASA Rally Sport, the grassroots rally sanctioning body in the US, focuses on competitor fun and providing support for rally organizers. Providing tools, technology, and systems to the organizers, racers, and fans to increase their enjoyment of rally is a core mission of NASA Rally Sport. Making sure that rally remains a sustainable and affordable passion for the drivers and organizers while building the family of racers and volunteers that make rally happen goes hand in hand with that mission.
Media Contact: Anders Green anders@NASARallySport.com 919.697.5282
Jason Smith, action shot, photo credit StoleTheShot.com Media:
Kevin Turner, action shot, photo credit Charlie Guthrie:
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