lir07_post.jpgThe tenth running of the Laughlin International Rally, the final round of the 2007 United States Rally Championship, is over, and Todd Moberly/Raymond Moberly from Colorado Springs, Colo. have won the event for the second year in a row in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI

The Moberly’s, who won five of the nine stages on the high-speed desert roads, won the event by more than three minutes over Wyeth Gubelmann/Natalie Richard, in a similar Subaru Impreza. Third, another minute back, was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII of Wolfgang Hoeck/Piers O’Hanlon. All three of the top finishers were driving turbocharged, four-wheel drive vehicles.

Winner of the two-wheel-drive class and fourth overall was the Ford F-150 truck of Bill Holmes/Kevin Carter. Looking more like a baja racer than the sports cars he was competing against, Holmes won his class by more than seven minutes over the Volvo of Bill Malik/Christofer Edstrom. Malik, who was in third place in class behind the Nissan Sentra of George Doganis/Thomas Smith by less than two second, but passed Doganis on the last four in-town, closed course stages to gain second place by eight seconds.

For the season-end United States Rally Championship, the two overall winners were no longer running when the rally ended, but they had enough points accumulated during the season to walk off with the trophies.

Irishman Celcus Donnelly, now living in Bronx, NY, along with co-driver Noel Gallagher, from Ireland, had their engine let go on the first competitive stage on Friday in their Mitsubishi Lancer 8. With their exit from the rally, Donnelly/Gallagher lost their chance to make up the 25-point deficit they had to the leaders Seamus Burke (another Irishman now living in Powder Springs, GA) and co-driver Eddie Fries (Yonkers, NY). Burke won the championship last year by finishing fifth overall at Laughlin.

With the pressure off and the championship clinched, it seemed that Burke could just cruise on the roads along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but only 45 minutes later, Burke was also out of the rally as he rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer 9 and could not continue.

In the 2WD class, Joshua Wimpey/Jeremy Wimpey, from Harrisonburg, VA, in their Golf GT, also did not finish the rally, losing their engine during yesterday’s stages, but they also had enough points to clinch their first United States Rally Championship crown – rookie of the year honors. The Wimpey’s were running second in class behind Holmes when they retired last night after the SuperStage in Laughlin. Holmes and Carter took the 2WD overall championship crown.

Several other teams were in contention during the rally, but either mechanical failures or off-the-road mishaps caused them to retire. The George Plsek/Jeff Burmeister Mitsubish, which won stage four, had moved into second place yesterday when he had a flat tire on stage eight. The team decided to try to make it to the service area by running on the flat rather than losing time by changing it on the stage, and the gamble did not pay off, as the tire delaminated, causing the wheel to explode and tearing up the brakes and suspension.

The Carl Jardevall/Amity Trowbridge Mitsubishi also had a flat, but stopped to change it on the stage. This caused them to lose nine minutes to the field, and moved them from third place to seventh, and that’s where they finished. Jardevall had won stage seven yesterday afternoon.

37 cars and four motorcycles started the rally – the motorcycles ran as the rally organizers had their first taste of the new RallyMoto class – and 19 cars and all four motorcycles finished the event. Todd Davis in a BMW motorcycle won the RallyMoto class.

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