Friday, June 1, 2012

Press Notes: Friday afternoon

Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally®
Friday, June 1, 2012
Press Notes:  Friday afternoon

NOTE:  These notes will be cumulative throughout the day, so check back often. Be sure to also check our Twitter feed.

1.  In Wellsboro this afternoon, 65 cars gathered around The Green, read to start STPR 2012. The weather threatened rain, but it held off with the exception of a few sprinkles.

2.  The only local competitor and his teammate are not novices running this rally. Wellsboro's Tony Esposito has been rallying for three years. His co-driver Phil Barnes celebrates his 21st year with STPR, in various roles including worker, driver and co-driver.  Barnes said the team's goal is to finish the rally with no major issues, as well as to help Tony gain more experience as a performance rally driver. They are in Car #143 running a 2002 Subaru WRX in the Open class of the regional rallies.

3.  Last April, the rally community was devastated by the loss of Matthew Noble Marker, of Elk Rapids, Mich., during an incident at the Olympus Rally in Washington in April 2011. As a tribute to their friend and fellow competitor, Samir and Rachelle Kaltak, of Grand Rapids, Mich., are one of two Subarus running in Noble's memory. Noble's father is crew chief for the Kaltaks here at STPR.  "Our goal is to continue Matt's memory to promote safety in rallying," Rachelle said. This is the team's first year rallying, find them in Car #636, a 1997 Subaru Impreza running in Open Light. They are competing in the regional rallies.

4.  Back to what's happening with the rally. Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Andrew Comrie-Picard's 2011 Scion xD (Car #20) is suffering a broken suspension and his crew is looking for a local welder and some scrap metal.  Higgins is dealing with gearbox problems on the Subaru (Subaru Rally USA Team, Car #75) and his crew went out between Stages 2 and 3 to work on the car and will take the time penalty. Both L'Estage (Car #17, Mitsubishi Evo X)  and Hanson  (Car # 523, Subaru Impreza WRX STI) were reported to have overheating issues.

5. Rory Gardiner/Steve Harrel (Car# 353, Open Light, 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS) reported via Twitter they made it through the first two stages. They hit a rock in the road early on SS1 and bent the right-fron control arm. They are taking it easy until they can change it in service later this afternoon.

6. Long-time rally enthusiasts will notice there are lot more women competing, both as drivers and co-drivers. Two young woman of note are Erika Detota of Passaic, N.J. and her co-driver Allison Hirsch of Waldorf, M.D. Erica's 1995 Subaru Impreza proudly boasts the statement, "I Boobies," a show of support and advocacy to promote early detection of breast cancer with regular screenings. "I became interested in rallying while doing marketing for Travis Hanson," Detota said. Detota is pleased there are more women competing these days. Hirsch said she was first attracted to Detota when she saw the side of Detota's car with its powerful message. She is serving active duty in the U.S. Air Force and in two weeks will be deployed to Afghanistan. This is their first time rallying together.

7.  Nathan and brother Aaron are relatively new to rallying, although this is their second time at STPR. Nathan said, however, they did not do well during their 2011 debut here. They did earn fourth place in class in the Rally America Central Regional Rally Championship last year. Nathan added that even with more competitors in the Group 2 class this year, the Lansing, Mich. brothers hope to use STPR to improve their skills.

8. Don't tell Siddharth Sareen and co-driver Tim Oliver, "the cat's in the bag." Their mascot is a grey-striped feline named Stig who walks on a leash.  Sareen, a native of India who now resides in White Plains, N.Y. said their goal is to finish the rally, the second event they have competed as a team. Oliver hails from Wanamassa , N.J. The two are campaigning a 2011 Ford Fiesta.

9.  Tim White, our Man in the Field, is out at the Waste Management stage. He briefly chatted with Paul Martino and Brian Penza, of Dublin, Ohio, who suffered a mishap during yesterday's practice on the Waste Management stage.  "We were going a little too quick and ran into sunshine on a kick.  I lost the car and when I got it back, it was pointed at the swamp," Martino said. "We picked up a stump on the way in and popped a tie rod." They got back to service around 11 p.m. and installed a new control arm and ball joint and welded the tie rod back together.  They reported that they are expecting dditional new parts to arrive in the morning.  "Our alignment is a little off, but we're driving!" Martino laughed.