Gettin’ it done!
This rally was all about getting my head back in the game. With rny rallysprint behind me, i concentrated on the desert trails, and mountain passes that make up Gorman Ridge. Wow what a difference from forests on the east coast! On the desert trails, we got into a groove blasting down the faster corners.
Gorman Ridge had some of the tightest, gnarliest roads i’ve ever experienced. This was quite the contrast to the flat-out, open, desert roads I had stereotyped for desert rallies. The elevation changes were amazing. Just imagine powering up a 45 degree increasing incline…except the top is a completely blind turn where going too fast would result in literally jumping off the side of a mountain.
As we went through recce for the Powerline and Wheatfield stages, I quickly realized that Gorman’s mountain passes were no joke. These were the kind of stages where an off would mean rolling down the side of a mountain, Pike’s Peak style . I wanted to stop driving multiple times just to take the time to appreciate the view.
First third of the rally, we were neck and neck with the experienced team of Bill Holmes and Sean Gallagher in a completely ridonculous SVT Raptor! To give you an idea of the spread, neither Holmes, Hoche-Mong, or I were more than, on average, 6 seconds apart from each other.
But as the rally progressed, we knew we needed a solid finish at Gorman to line us up for the United States Rally Championship. We dialed it back a bit, focusing on a consistent pace.
Unfortunately, around stage 12, it was looking like we might have dialed it back too much, as the team of Psara/Fahring overtook us for 3rd in an open class AWD car. That set us up quite nicely for a battle on the last three night stages. All three of the stages involved carving up the side of a mountain, at night; short technical turns with huge drop-offs – my favorite!
Despite being at a significant power disadvantage, we were able to pilot our Production AWD evo and best Psara/Fahring on two of the last 3 stages. This allowed us to finish first out of all AWD entries!
Photo credit: castleislandphotography.com
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