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Los Angeles – The final round of the 2012 California Rally Series Championship took place on September 28 – 29 in Prescott, AZ. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the rally, which has become one of the most popular events on the calendar. The classic Southwest desert backdrop provides a beautiful setting for the smooth and fast roads. This year saw even more stage miles, with teams covering almost 120 stage miles over the two days.
In the open four-wheel drive class, two drivers had a shot at the championship title – Keith Jackson and Cem Akdeniz. Jackson and co-driver Mara Estep had an impressive run in their Subaru, and collected maximum points for the weekend. The team also displayed an impressive show of sportsmanship when they stopped at the end of the very last stage on Saturday to tow some fellow competitors with a damaged car across the finish line (photo left). Despite sacrificing time, they still managed to take the overall win and a well-deserved championship. Akdeniz and co-driver Mustafa Samli ended their rally early on Saturday when they spun and hit a bank on the first stage, damaging their car. The team each would have to settle for second place in their respective championships.
Competition was tight in many classes, but the one class that had the most riding on the results was the production-based two-wheel drive P-Stock. Coming into the final event, Sarkis Mazmanian had a slim 36-point lead over John Black. With a combined maximum of 500 points up for grabs between the two events (Friday and Saturday), both drivers had a good shot at the championship. These two had seen some close battles all year long, and Prescott was no exception. Black was fast right out of the gate – he and co-driver Lori Stone were flying on Friday’s night stages, ending up winning the class and finishing the night in fifth overall amongst the turbo four-wheel drive cars. Handling issues on Friday meant Sarkis and his co-driver son Michael Mazmanian were off of Black’s pace, but managed to secure second in class by edging out Jen Imai and co-driver Terry Stonecipher by only twelve seconds.
With Black’s win, it all came down to Saturday’s event, and it proved to be a thriller. The Mazmanians were in the lead after the first stage, but Black/Stone set a fast time on stage two in order to move ahead of them by just four seconds. Their lead was short lived as the Mazmanians pushed back and reclaimed the lead on the very next stage. They managed to hold on through the end of the day, claiming the class win. The victory gave Sarkis the driver’s championship over John Black, while Lori Stone secured the co-driver’s championship of Michael. Despite a dnf on Saturday, the husband and wife team of Chris and Victoria Rosner finished the season in third place in P-Stock – an impressive feat for the rookie team.
In the small-displacement CRS-2 class, Michel Hoche-Mong had already secured the drivers’ championship at the last event, but he showed up with his VW at Prescott to prove once again that he could drive his little car just as fast as the turbocharged four-wheel drive cars. He finished the first stage in third place overall, just thirty-five seconds off the leader! However, an unfortunate encounter with a rock on stage two ended the event for him early. There was still a lot of great racing, as husband and wife team Kris and Christine Marciniak traded stage time with Eddie Fiorelli and Tom Smith. Fiorelli/Smith drove their VW Golf fast enough to be leading the class after the first two stages, but the Marciniaks picked up the pace after the sun went down, and claimed the Friday night victory in their Dodge Neon by just thirty seconds.
The battle between the Marciniaks and Fiorelli/Smith continued in the light of day on Saturday. The two teams swapped times on each stage in a battle that went down to the wire. In the end, Fiorelli/Smith finished ahead on Saturday, beating the Marciniaks by just forty seconds. The strong finish allowed Kris to take third in the CRS-2 driver’s championship behind Chuck Wilson, while Christine finished second in the co-driver’s championship behind Brent Ellzey. The team of Brent Hercelinsky and Alex Orozco ended up fourth and third in the driver’s / co-driver’s championships, respectively, despite dnf-ing their Suzuki Swift on Saturday. Rounding out the top four co-drivers for the season was Tom Smith, thanks to his strong finish.
Paul Willemsen and co-driver Travis Bos were the only team competing in the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class, but they didn’t let that stop them from enjoying themselves. The team drove a smooth and consistent rally, which ended up securing them both second place in their respective championships, behind the husband and wife team of Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi who had previously clinched their titles.
The annual Prescott Rally took place on smooth dirt roads outside of Prescott, AZ on September 28-29. The rally is a favorite among CRS competitors for its flowing stages and breathtaking views. For more information on the Prescott Rally, visit http://www.prescottrally.com/ and follow @crspress on twitter.
Los Angeles – The Gorman Ridge Rally has been a mainstay on the California Rally Series (CRS) championship calendar for over the past decade. Run in the Hungry Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Park approximately one hour north of Los Angeles, CA, the event this year consisted of two separately scored rallies, one in the afternoon and the second going well into the night. The rally covered a combined total of sixty stage miles, with the course ranging from tight and twisty switchbacks to fast straights with huge jumps, a combination which kept drivers and co-drivers on their toes.
Bill Holmes and co-driver Sean Gallagher are no strangers to the overall podium at Gorman, and won the event overall in 2007. This year they managed to sweep both the day and night events, but not without a close fight that was settled by just a few seconds on the last stage. Typically their big V-8 powered Ford Raptor is battling with the turbo-charged all-wheel drive cars for the overall win, but this year in a true David versus Goliath battle it was Michel Hoche-Mong and co-driver Marie Boyd who were taking the fight to them in their four-cylinder VW Golf. Hoche-Mong/Boyd threw down the gauntlet when they won the very first stage of the event by just two seconds over Holmes/Gallagher. Holmes/Gallagher responded by picking up the pace on the next few stages, and a moment on stage 3 where Hoche-Mong/Boyd nearly got stuck in some soft sand cost them valuable seconds, locking up the overall win of the day event for Holmes/Gallagher.
Hoche-Mong/Boyd did not back down, and were back in the fight for the overall win as the sun set for the night event. Despite running in Holmes’s dust, the two teams traded stage wins back and forth into the night. Going into the last stage, Holmes/Gallagher had a slim five second lead over Hoche-Mong/Boyd. Hoche-Mong/Boyd pushed their little Golf as fast as possible and claimed the stage win, but only by one second over Holmes/Gallagher, which was not enough to knock them out of the top spot.
By taking the win in the CRS-5 (large displacement two-wheel drive) class, Holmes/Gallagher have clinched the class championship despite two more events remaining on the schedule (the two days of the Prescott Rally). Similarly, Hoche-Mong’s victory in the CRS-2 (small displacement two-wheel drive) class also means he clinched the driver championship in that class. Claiming second in CRS-2 in the day event were Chuck Wilson and Brent Ellzey, however their Ford Escort broke an axle which prevented them from finishing the night event. Capitalizing on their problems was co-driver turned driver John Dillon, who claimed second place points in CRS-2 for the night event despite intercom problems that left his co-driver resorting to hand signals.
The other battle to watch was in the production-based two-wheel drive P-Stock class, where the Acura Integra of father/son team Sarkis and Michael Mazmanian fought with John Black and Lori Stone in their Ford Ranger. The competition between these two teams has been extremely close all season, and Gorman was no exception. Black/Stone were slowed by engine issues during the daytime stages, but managed to finish just two minutes behind the Mazmanians. After getting the engine problem sorted out at the mid-rally service, Black/Stone picked up the pace going into the night stages. They won the first two stages, but then the Mazmanians answered back with a win on stage 3, narrowing the gap between the two teams. Black/Stone turned up the heat and won the next two stages, even setting the third fastest stage time on stage 5. With just one stage left, misfortune befell Black/Stone, and they were unable to get their truck started to run the last stage. The team was forced to withdraw, allowing the Mazmanians to take the class win in the night event as well. The double victory gives Sarkis Mazmanian a slim 36 point lead over John Black in the driver’s championship going into the final two points events at Prescott.
Paul Willemsen and Zachary Dickinson were the lone entrants in the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class, but that didn’t prevent them from having some good competition from others outside their class. The team peddled their Subaru Impreza to a respectable fifth overall in the day event and sixth overall in the night event. The finish moves Willemsen into fourth in the class year end standings, with hopes to continue moving up the standings with a strong finish at Prescott.
The 2012 Gorman Ridge Rally is based in Lebec, CA, located just one hour north of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The rally features 60 miles of hard-packed dirt stages located within the Hungry Valley Off-Road Vehicle park. For more information on the Gorman Ridge Rally visit http://gormanridgerally.com/.
and follow @crspress on twitter.
LEBEC, Calif. (Aug. 4, 2012) — The Gorman Ridge Rally, presented by Subaru Western Region, is the third event in the 2012 United States Rally Championship. Taking place Saturday, Aug. 25, the rally celebrates its 23rd anniversary. Gorman is also the fifth event in the California Rally Series.
Los Angeles – The Northern California City of Ukiah played host to the Mendocino Rally on August 4, 2012. Twelve teams descended on the scenic town to compete on the hard packed dirt roads of the South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle area. The stages have a distinct flavor, with flowing twists and turns that drivers raved about all weekend.
Michel Hoche-Mong kept his winning streak alive after taking top honors in the small- displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class at the Idaho Rally in June. He not only took the class win at Mendocino, but won the rally overall in his VW Golf. His win was not without drama, however, as an overheating fuel pump nearly left him stranded before the last stage. He let it cool off, and fortunately was able to get the car started with just seconds to spare before taking the start. The close call did not throw off his concentration as Hoche-Mong went on to win the final stage. Claiming second-place points in CRS-2 were the team of Brent Hercelinsky and Alex Orozco in their Suzuki Swift. Their strong finish moves them both into third place in the championship with just two rallies remaining.
Last year’s overall winner Alex Rademacher returned with hopes to defend his title in his Subaru Impreza. However, he could not hold off Hoche-Mong’s charge and had to settle for second overall and first in the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class. Barely one-minute behind Rademacher were Aaron Ekinaka and Marra Estep, also competing in a Subaru Impreza. They put up a strong fight throughout the rally, but could not match Rademacher’s pace.
The production-based two-wheel drive P-Stock class was shaping up to be yet another battle between John Black and Sarkis Mazmanian. By the halfway point, Mazmanian had a slim lead over Black and co-driver Lori Stone, but suspension damage to his Acura Integra ended Mazmanian’s rally early. Black/Stone went on to claim the class win in their Ford Ranger. Chris and Victoria Rosner drove a smooth rally and took second place in their Geo Metro. Despite his DNF, Mazmanian holds on to a slim lead in the class going into the last two rallies of the season.
The California Rally Series heads south to Lebec, CA for the next event, the 2012 Gorman Ridge Rally. The rally features 60 miles of hard-packed dirt stages located within the Hungry Valley Off-Road Vehicle Park, just one hour north of Los Angeles.
The California Rally Series is the premier performance rally championship in the southwestern United States. The Series incorporates events from various sanctioning bodies in order to create a meaningful regional championship for its members. The Series celebrates more than 35 continuous years of performance rally, making it the longest running rally series in the United States. To learn more about the California Rally Series visit www.californiarallyseries.com and follow @crspress on twitter.
Los Angeles – The California Rally Series heads to Northern California with the Mendocino Rally on August 4th, 2012. Fourteen teams are set to compete on fifty miles of twisty hard packed dirt roads outside of Ukiah, CA. New for 2012, teams will be provided with stage notes to help them navigate the extremely technical course. With over ten lines of instructions per miles, co-drivers will definitely have their work cut out for them!
The top seeded team is Alex Rademacher and Jeana Yi, who won the event last year in their Subaru Impreza. The team will be looking to redeem themselves after a mistake at the last event in North Nevada caused them to get stuck off the road and cost them an overall victory. They will face stiff competition in the production-based four-wheel drive CRS-GT class from Aaron Ekinaka and Marra Estep, also competing in a Subaru Impreza. Ekinaka hasn’t competed since the Gorman Rally last Summer, but he took the class win over Rademacher at that event, so expect a tight battle between the two Impreza drivers at Mendocino. Also fighting for class points are Ray Piloto in his Subaru and Michael Carnes and Reza Yazdani in their Audi 4000CS.
Michel Hoche-Mong is the current points leader in the small-displacement two-wheel drive CRS-2 class, and is a favorite to extend his lead. Look for him to be pushing his VW Golf to its limits in a fight for the overall podium. Meanwhile, the team of Erik Christiansen/Amy Floyd, also in a VW Golf, will also be pushing to score championship class points in order to move up the leaderboard.
In the production-based two-wheel drive P-Stock class, the two teams who have been battling all season will be at it again in Mendocino. Sarkis Mazmanian currently has a narrow lead in the year end points total. He is teaming up with veteran co-driver John Dillon in hopes of taking the class win in their Acura Integra. Hoping to usurp the lead is John Black, who pairs up once again with Lori Stone in their Ford Ranger. The two drivers have been trading stage times all season long, so the class competition should be extremely close.
The 2012 Mendocino Rally is based in Ukiah, CA. The rally features nearly 50 miles of hard-packed twisty stages contained within the South Cow Mountain off-road vehicle park. For more information on the Mendocino Rally visit http://www.mendocinorally.com.