flatirons_logo1.jpgThe Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR), based out of Houghton, MI, marked the final round of the 2007 Rally America National Championship. As one of the oldest running rallies in the United States the Michigan event represents a unique and fitting challenge to the end of the Rally America season with a difficult and testing mix of unpredictable weather, mixed stage surfaces, and mixed stage conditions.

“Lake Superior is a difficult event to prepare for. We went to the rally in 2005 when we won the Rally America Production GT National Championship, but we missed the rally last year after our big crash in Colorado. The mix between rough gravel, smooth gravel, and pavement in addition to the weather can make the rally very difficult and puts a premium on experience,” stated co-driver Scott Crouch.

“LSPR was a difficult rally to get a good feeling and rhythm going for us. We missed practice, which meant the first time in the car for me after a month off was Stage One. Since Stage One was the same stage as the practice stage we lost a good bit of time and would have to try to make up the lost time on the rest of the stages,” said driver Stephan Verdier.

Determined to make up time, the Flatirons Tuning duo headed out to the full forest stages. “On Stage Two we were starting to get a good feeling when we came into a section of stage with a right three turn that transitioned into a left three turn. We hit a puddle on the inside of the right three and were thrown off line and almost ended up in a pond, the same pond would end the rally of championship contender Patrick Moro and co-driver Mike Rossey,” commented Verdier.

Stage Three was cancelled, so the teams proceeded on to the very rough and difficult Stage Four. “Stage Four was super rough so we just wanted to get through the stage without damaging the car or losing much time. We were going at a decent pace when we over shot a left four and left the road. There was only damage to the bumper but we stalled the car. With the cold conditions our battery was low on power and it took almost five minutes before we got the car re-started,” reported Crouch.

With the class lead out of reach, the Flatirons Tuning Rally Team turned their attention to trying to regroup and fight back onto the podium. After one more stage the cars returned to service before heading back out to complete the first day of stages. Determined to make up time the Flatirons duo turned in fastest time in class for two of the three stages including a fourth overall time on Stage Seven.

Much like the previous event, Rally Colorado, storms moved in overnight to great teams with wet and slippery roads, mixed with the low seasonal temperatures the possibility for icy patches was high. “Day two started really wet, because the temperatures had gotten down to freezing or below we had to be alert in the morning for there to be ice in places on the stage. On the first stage of day two we went into a right four and the notes called for water inside. We wanted to drive around the water in case it was ice, so we took a wide line. The outside of the turn proved to be really slippery and we went wide and severely damaged the left front control arm,” said a disappointed Verdier.

While the team was able to repair the damaged control arm enough to finish the stage, the time lost dashed any hope of being able to make it back to the podium. Not wanting to risk further incident, the team withdrew from the rally. “This has been a rough season for us, we’ve shown we have the speed to run at the front, and our technician Jon Brouillet has worked really hard to give us a good car at every rally, we just haven’t been able to find the consistency to put up results that reflect the performance of the team,” noted Crouch, who later added, “We really wanted to regain the Production GT National Championship this year. It has been a tough year and as a smaller team it has been difficult to put together the support to make a full championship campaign possible. We haven’t made any decisions for 2008, but hopefully we’ll be able to put something together to be able to once again challenge for a championship.”

For additional information please visit:
Rally-America: http://www.Rally-America.com
Flatirons Tuning: http://www.FlatironsTuning.com
Cobb Tuning: http://www.COBBtuning.com
The Flatirons Rally Team Website: http://www.FlatironsRally.com/



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