In rally – like many things – all is good until it all goes horribly bad……“horribly“ is not really the correct description here but when a team puts together such a good string of successful events as Primitive Racing has – ‘horrible’ takes on a broader definition.
This past weekend at the third round of the Rally America Championship Series – the Olympus Rally, the Primitive Crew found ourselves enjoying the newly found power and increased performance of the 2008 Subaru STi upgraded to the new “SP” class [an intermediate level competition class that is one step between production and open classes – the intent is a modified class with limited upgrades allowed]. The SURGELINE tuned AWD hatchback of the rally-bred Subaru Impreza line was definitely “imprezzing” us – that is until it all ended in a trail of engine smoke on Stage 11 – Palix. But we are jumping ahead and first must step back.
The car ran great and performed beyond our level of commitment. The stage times were sometimes slower than the national competitors vying for the championship but Paul was pleased that we were not that far out and we were having a clean event. The reconfigured Doo Wop stages were not overly technical on day one – in fact many of the traditional stages were rerouted and included many uncharacteristic long straight sections where the organizers utilized more barrel chicanes to control top speeds. The open class cars of Travis Pastrana and Tanner Foust were far exceeding anything we would ever hope to attain! We were hanging in there and having a good time on good stages with good weather. The end of Leg 1 saw us sitting 11 overall and 5th of 10 SP class cars – a 2 position improvement – and although we had hoped for better, we realized again that the national rally competition has increased over the last several years and includes some talented and dedicated teams. One of which – Timothy Rooney/Dennis Hotson – we loaned our spare rear strut to; it was not the high-end Ohlin’s unit they were used to running, but it also wasn’t broken! [They finished the event on our strut].
Day 2 started with more spectacular weather and even better stages on the schedule – including the historic Brooklyn stage. We never made it that far though as less than a mile into SS 2 there was a nearly immediate loss of power as we were flying up the hill that defines the first half of the 5.72 miles stage. At the 2.17 mile point of SS11 – Palix we pulled off course. That power loss had been followed by a huge cloud of blue smoke chasing us up the mountain – we were done. Game over. Complete and utter turbo failure. The spectators got a good show though and probably appreciated the mosquito fog we laid down….. Ends up about 6 competitors, including Ken Block who was leading the rally suffered turbo failure due to the extreme pressure the long straights and up-hill sections put on the motors.
Disappointed indeed but with Oregon Trail Rally [volunteers needed] just around the corner – May 15-17 – we have too much work to do to ruminate on the how the season has started or to lick wounds. Funds available – we will Press on Regardless as they say in the rally community! A new turbo will be attained from Subaru [IHI will rebuild the old one as a spare] and the 2.5 litre boxer engine will be carefully scrutinized for bearing damage. This was only the 6th DNF for Primitive since 2002…about 80 race days in all [at 47 events].