After an aggressive battle for the lead that oscillated back and forth, the Subaru WRX STI team of Mitchell Williams/Rebecca Greek came out on top at the 21st annual Gorman Ridge Rally, presented by Subaru Western Region, in Lebec, Calif. on Saturday.

The rally was the fourth event in the 2011 United States Rally Championship and the sixth event in the California Rally Series.

Never giving up the fight, Doug Chernis/Craig Mcnair, also in a Subaru WRX, came in second overall. Third on the podium was Hakan Okcuoglu/Sean McElwain in an Eagle Talon. The podium finishers represented the USRC’s Open AWD and CRS’s Open 4WD classes.

“Rebecca did awesome,” Williams said, crediting his co-driver. “I think we did great for our first time together. Everybody was on their game.”

His co-driver echoed those sentiments, plus attributing their success to an existing friendship. She was filling in for his regular co-driver who was taking a family vacation.

“It was an honor. I always knew he was aggressive,” Greek said. “He has big goals in the USRC.”

Aaron Ekinaka/Albert Goad took the gold in the USRC’s Production AWD class and CRS’s GT class, in a Subaru Impreza. Not only ambitious in stage rally, he is the enterprising founder of the popular Subaru enthusiast website, DirtyImpreza.com.

“I figured the Evo [Vartan Samuelian] would catch me, but I held them off,” Ekinaka said. “I’m beyond happy with fourth place overall.”

Anticipating the hot and unseasonably humid weather, 20 teams were prepped and raring to go for the 11 a.m. start at the Holiday Inn Express and the transit to the start of 16 competition stages covering 60 miles in the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area nearby. Part of the California State Park’s off-highway motor vehicle recreation areas, its 19,000 acres support off-road sports with more than 130 miles of scenic trails for motorcycles, All-Terrain Vehicles, dune buggies and 4×4 recreation.

Rally coordinator Ray Hocker praised Hungry Valley SVRA for their contribution to the success of the event.

“The roads are in great condition and the staff integrated their normal upkeep and maintenance of the roads,” Hocker said. “We couldn’t have done it without their support.”

In the two-wheel-drive category, Tony Chavez and wife Raquel Salas captured first in the USRC Production 2WD and CRS Performance Stock classes, driving a VW Golf, obtaining the goal to win the 2WD classes overall. John Rood/Brent Ellzey’s Open-class Ford Escort GT gave a good chase, at one time only four seconds behind Chavez, and claiming victory in USRC Open 2WD and CRS-2.

“I was surprised at the pace of everyone,” Chavez said, “So I turned up the heat.”

Michel Hoche-Mong/Marie Boyd (Open 2wd/CRS-2) were having fuel problems and Rene de la Trinidad/Sandra Chavez (Prod 2wd/Perf Stk) broke a throttle cable on Stage 1. Both were able to make repairs and continue. Hoche-Mong’s struggle continued and he packed it in after five stages of disappointment.

Javier Olivares/Brock Heinz (Open 2wd/CRS-2) weren’t going anywhere when both the half shaft and rear axle broke in the Mitsubishi Galant, leaving them in the middle of the course on Stage 3. However, taking the DNF gracefully, Olivares said, “That’s rally.”

In the All-Wheel-Drive category, Jon Burke/Zach Dickinson (Open AWD/Open 4wd) weren’t going to push the Subaru WRX due to concerns about his differential as his main objective was to stay ahead of Alex Rademacher. Burke took a DNF after Stage 4.

Rademacher/Jeana Yi (Impreza RS 2.5/Open AWD/CRS GT) took a big jump on Stage 5, enough that they had to stop to check the suspension before starting the next stage. Ekinaka then moved up the leader board in Stage 6 as Rademacher cautiously slowed down.

Overall, 13 teams completed the rally with eight teams taking DNFs for an assortment of vehicular technical problems.

The event also featured live scoring, presented by RallyData.com, as well as live text updates, assisted by the California Rally Series’ staff.

Competitors, volunteers and staff enjoyed a mid-afternoon barbecue hosted by Boy Scout Troop #444 from Palmdale, Calif., and the post-event beverages were donated by Karl Strauss Brewing Company.

Results and further information about the Gorman Ridge Rally is available on the Web at www.gormanridgerally.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gormanridgerall, with additional press notes at gormanridgerally.wordpress.com. The event is sanctioned by NASA Rally Sport and organized by Creative Edge Events, Inc.

Photos:

Class winners pose for a photo after getting soaked with victory champagne in the winner’s circle at the Gorman Ridge Rally. L to R: Albert Goad, Aaron Ekinaka, Rebecca Greek, Mitchell Williams, Raquel Salas, Tony Chavez, Jon Rood, Brent Ellzey. Credit: Brian Hamblin

Overall winners, Mitchell Williams and Rebecca Greek glide through a turn in the Hungry Valley SVRA at the Gorman Ridge Rally in their SUBAPerformance Subaru Impreza STI. Credit: Alex Huff/2pnt0

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