USUK Racing, a father-son team of Simon and Kieran Wright, are hard at work preparing their 2001 Ford Focus for the next event. Rally West Virginia, held on the beautiful and challenging gravel roads in the mountains near Snowshoe, WV, features new stages that run deep into the night as well as reviving some old favorites from previous events. Some of the roads are quite rough and the team wants to be sure their rally car is fully prepared.

The team is planning on maintaining and improving their lead in the Atlantic Rally Cup two-wheel drive championship. Simon Wright leads Thomas Barton by only 18 points with three events left in the season, so they must strive to continue to place well. They are even holding a good third position in the overall standings behind Eric Wages and Jason Smith, who compete in all-wheel-drive cars. Car numbers are assigned for the following season based on overall position and USUK Racing are keen to retain, or possibly improve on, their current number ‘2’.

The car suffered considerable damage from a failed strut tower on the second day at New England Forest Rally in July. This was a disappointment following an excellent second place finish in class on the first day at that event. The body and suspension damage has been repaired and reinforced, but much remains to be done before the team considers itself rally-ready. “The New England Forest Rally was brutal,” reports Simon Wright, “with some extremely rough stages. Our Ford Focus has run in thirty-four rallies, finishing a remarkable thirty! But the wear and tear accumulates, and I am driving much more aggressively, resulting in these types of failures.”

Among other items still to do list are rebuilding the front wheel knuckles and suspension, and repairing a broken skid plate. With less than two weeks left before Rally West Virginia, the team is pushing to get it all done. “Mixing the needs of the team with my work and university studies is a big challenge,” says Kieran Wright, co-pilot of the team, “and I’m particularly busy at this time, leaving much of the critical work to my father this time around. I will have only a scant few days to assist with the final tasks before the rally.”

The team takes these challenges in its stride, and considers preparation for an event to be as vital to a successful rally as good driving and navigation. The team will be assisted by crew members Adam Marris, from Atlanta, GA, and Mike Miller from Durham, NC and is up for the trial to finish these last minute prep items in order to do their best at Rally WV!

Photo by Ian Turner

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