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The Tumbleweed Express Rally, held May 24th, 2009, marked the second round of the 2009 Colorado Rally Cup Presented By Subaru, Flatirons Performance, and Flatirons Subaru. This event, held at the Colorado Off Road Extreme park outside of Deer Trail, CO, also held the distinction of being the first all new Performance Stage Rally of 2009 sanctioned by Rally-America.

After overnight rains threatened to make the Kling Construction Grass Track at C.O.R.E. impassable for safety crews, teams set about the task of driving the course to make their pace notes early in the morning. With the course drying out quickly due to the sun and strong winds, teams and the event organizers quickly gained confidence in the road surface as a fast “sticky” course began to take shape.

First on the road would be Steve Bis and substitute co-driver Aaron McConnell in the Salta Motorsports Subaru STi in the powerful open class. Second on the road would be Mitch Williams and Alix Hakala in the Checkpoint Racing Suba Performance Subaru STi followed by Dave and Allison Kern in their NOS Energy Drink AMS Mitsubishi Evolution. All three teams looked to capitalize on the absence of Jeff Regester and Duncan Smith who took an early points lead earlier in the month by winning the class at the Temple Canyon Hill Climb. Further down the order Scott Leonard looked to extend his lead in Group 2 and John Conley hoped to extend his lead in Group 5 and make a challenge for the overall Colorado Rally Cup points championship lead.

As the teams completed the first running of the 8.2 mile Kling Construction course, the technical, grueling, and challenging nature of the road became evident as Brian and Adam Short rolled their Subaru STi, damaging the roof and windshield and forcing the father/son team out of the event. On the second pass, Bis and McConnell suffered a flat tire sending the team spiraling down the score board while Williams and Hakala showed above average temperatures causing concern over the brand new engine in the team’s Suba Performance Subaru Impreza STi. Both teams were able to finish and head into the mid day break, but their good fortune was not shared by the NCR Motorsports entry of McLaughlin and Wilson as they joined the list of retirements, only to be joined by Jared Carpenter and Jason Vanstorm who were unable to continue after the service halt.

With menacing skies taking shape overhead, the teams headed out from their mid day service break eager to improve times or make a move up the score board. Leonard and substitute co-driver Mike Kilpatrick took to the stages with blistering pace as the fastest two wheel drive car in their Salta Motorsports Volkswagen GTI only to be caught out in an easy left turn causing the team to roll and fail to finish the event. From there the intense competition at the front of the pack continued to heat up with Kern and Kern blowing the rear differential on their NOS Energy Drink AMS Evolution and Aaron Helton and Brition Butler suffering motor problems and dropping to the final position on the score board.

On the fourth and final run, the challenging nature of the course continued to take its toll on the competitors with Roger Matthews and Jack Penley suffering mechanical failure and Bis and McConnell suffering continued teething problems as an electrical short brought their rally to a premature end.

As the dust settled at the end of the day, Mitch Williams and Alix Hakala emerged as the rally overall victors to be joined by Group 5 winners John Conley and co-driver Keith Rudolph, Group 2 winners Matt Leavitt and Scott McCarty, and Open Light winners Andrew Morton and Aaron Searle.

The Overall Rally and class victory by Williams puts him at the top of the points Championship for the Open class while the mature and measured drive by John Conley gave him the Group 5 class win and moved him into the lead in the Colorado Rally Cup Championship overall. In Group 2, Victor Fagan continues to impress in his rookie season with fast and controlled drivers to take the top spot in the Group 2 Colorado Rally Cup Championship and the Blue Groove Racing Team of Andrew Morton and Aaron Searle take the rally class win and by structure of the championship hold a narrow lead over the Function Autosport Rally Team of Chris Raymond and Tyler Patik in the Open Light class.

Teams will enjoy a brief two week break before returning to Colorado Off Road Extreme on June 7, 2009, before heading to Buena Vista, CO, for the Buffalo Peaks Hill Climb the weekend of June 27th and 28th. For more information on the Colorado Rally Cup Presented by Subaru, Flatirons Performance, and Flatirons Subaru as well as photos, videos, and more please visit http://www.ColoradoRallyCup.org.

About the Colorado Rally Cup:
The Colorado Rally Cup Presented by Subaru, Flatirons Performance, and Flatirons Subaru is a multi-organizational rally sport championship. In its second year, teams compete in 6 events covering three different versions of rally sport based competition in four different classes in events located throughout Colorado. In addition to Subaru, Flatirons Performance, and Flatirons Subaru, the Colorado Rally Cup is supported by, Salta Motorsports, Checkpoint Racing, and Kevin Hahn Photography.

Words: Colorado Rally Cup LLC
Photographs: KevinHahnPhotography.Com

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