NORTHERN CALIFORNIA’S MENDOCINO RALLY LAUNCHES NEW TWO-DAY FORMAT
Clearlake, Calif. (July 1, 2013)—The 2013 Mendocino Rally, headquartered out of Clearlake, Calif., will expand its format to a two-day event on July 20-21, with Saturday’s Bear Valley Stages featuring all new roads—hard-packed, open and fast— through scenic chaparral-covered slopes with scattered pine and oak trees.
The event is the largest performance rally in California and the only in Northern California. Another unique trait is the Mendocino Rally is the only event included in both the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series presented by Lucas Oil and the California Rally Series. As in the past, the Mendocino Rally is proud to be sanctioned by Rally America as a Pacific South West Regional event.
This year the event features 105 stage miles, over three hours of competitive driving, and 5 coefficient points.
“Entries are not only from California and Nevada, but from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona,” said Mendocino Rally’s chairman Jim Robison. “Competitors are already showing their appreciation for the longer event with entries up from 12 last year to 20 with a month still to go.”
Competitors in the BSWRC Series are eligible for contingency prizes in the Lucas Oil 2WD Championship or the Wolf LED System 4WD Championship. The overall winners of the Mendocino Rally will receive a $100.00 rebate on their entry to the Arizona Extreme Rally 2013 on September 14 in Kingman, Ariz. For teams entering both events, the BSWRS will combine the scores of the two events and the top three teams in 2013 will receive free or discounted entries to the 2014 Arizona Extreme Rally. Details are available at www.arizonaextremerally.com.
"I am very proud of the Mendocino Rally organization, of how far they have come to make this event happen in the Northern California area,” said Denise McMahon, director of the BSWRC Series. “I see this event getting stronger to help to bring PNW and SW teams come together to compete at this rally."
This year’s Mendocino Rally combines the new Bear Valley Stages with the Cow Mountain Stages, the legendary tight course used by the rally in previous years, each being a separate rally as part of the overall event.
“On Sunday, Cow Mountain Stages will return to the fantastic soft and twisty 40 miles we have used the last two year as a coefficient 2 rally,” Robison said.
The Mendocino Rally is the home of the North-South Challenge, where teams from the Pacific Northwest compete against teams from the Pacific Southwest. Team South has taken home the gold the last two years.
“It will be interesting to see if the same car can win both Bear Valley Stages, the fast course, and Cow Mountain Stages, the tight course,” expressed Robison. “The overall winning driver and co-driver will have proven themselves to be true masters of both environments.”
The rally has a rich history. The inaugural Mendocino Forest Rally was in 1975 and was sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America until 1982. It boasts some of the top names in performance rally on its past entry lists including John Buffum, Rod Millen, Hendrik Blok, Dan Goodwin, Scott Harvey, Wayne Baldwin, Ray Hocker, Jim Olinger, and many more. It was a 250-mile, all-night event with 90 stage miles. The 1976 edition covered almost 300 miles in 26 stages, with 40 starters and 26 finishers, and continued all night despite a raging forest fire. The 1980 event had 223 stage miles, 47 entries, and 21 finishers.
Northern California then went almost 30 years without a performance rally,” Robison explained. “When we introduced the current version in Mendocino County in 2011, we felt it only proper to show respect to the original Mendocino Forest Rally by using the Mendocino name.”
This year’s entry lists boasts an impressive lineup:
* Last year’s overall winner, Michel Hoche-Mong, from San Jose, Calif., returns driving his 1985 Volkswagen GTI in the two-wheel-drive Group 2 class. Hoche-Mong took the top podium spot even though he battled fuel pump issues throughout the event and was competing against the higher-powered Open class, all-wheel-drive cars. Marie Boyd, from Bishop, Calif., will call the notes for him this year.
* China’s Tingwu Song, who now resides in Denver, Colo., with co-driver Martin Brady, from Galway, Ireland, will contest a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in the Open class. Song hasn’t had much luck this season, most recently with a DNF at the Nameless Rally in Washington after losing a wheel, but his Irish co-driver should be a good-luck charm based on the battle between overall leader Antoine L’Estage/Nathalie Richard and Leonid “Crazy Leo” Urlichich/Brady at last weekend’s Rally Baie-des-Chaleurs in Quebec, Canada. Urlichich was mere seconds behind L’Estage until his Subaru’s engine gave out only three stages before the finish.
* Also in the Open class, local Kris Psara, of Ukiah, Calif., is high in the speed ranking, competing in a 2010 Subaru Impreza STI. Last year was his first as a rally driver. He took first place at the Gorman Ridge Rally in the CRS Open 4WD class. Growing up in rural Northern California, Psara learned to drive on dirt roads. His first experience was a driving school with veteran Canadian rally driver Patrick Richard who told him to “go home and practice” on those readily-available rally-type roads.
* Another up-and-coming driver who is a podium contender is Ray Piloto, from Henderson, Nevada, driving a Subaru Impreza 2.5RS in the Open Light class. Piloto, a driving instructor at the prestigious Spring Mountain Motorsports Resort, finished out his first season with four podium finishes out of six races, earning him the 2012 Rookie of the Year in both the California Rally Series and the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series.
* Pete Pollard, from Richmond, Calif., and co-driver Seri Traver, from Oakland, Calif., piloted their Group 2-class 1997 Honda Civic to the finish 53 seconds behind Hoche-Mong at the 2012 event. They return to contend their podium spot in 2013.
* Well known in rally circles for over a decade, Oregon’s Tabor family holds several key spots in the entry list, bringing their Subaru entourage along with patriarch Bruce Tabor’s 2000 Acura Integra in Group 2. Wife and mother, Janice Tabor, will co-drive for their daughter Kristen in a Production GT 1999 Subaru Impreza STI, while sons Mark and Matthew pilot a 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the Open class and a 2002 Subaru WRX in Production GT, respectively. Mark is chairman of Rally America’s Oregon Trail Rally.
Rally racing events would not be possible without the ongoing support through sponsorship. Mendocino Brewing will sponsor this year’s Friday Welcome Party, while K&N Filters has provided a generous donation of gift certificates.
In the U.S., stage rally (or performance rally) teams have a driver and co-driver (or navigator) for each car and competitors race in segments called stages on closed public roads, trying to get from the beginning of the stage to the end as fast as they can. Unlike other forms of motorsports, there is no practice allowed and the course is not revealed to the competitors until the co-driver receives the route instructions just prior to the start of the rally. The co-driver then gives the route instructions— often through the use of an intercom, sometimes at speeds in excess of 100 mph— through forest, desert and logging roads throughout the country. The cars, all street legal to allow driving on public roads between rally stages, are compact and sub-compact cars with varying amounts of performance modifications depending on the class in which they are running.
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More information can be found at the Web links below:
* About the Bilstein Southwest RallyCup Series presented by Lucas Oil: Formed in 2004, the series was established to provide high-performance stage rally events in the Southwest U.S. Its objective is also to encourage participation and promotion of the sport, especially at the grassroots level (www.southwestrallyseries.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BSWRC).
* About Rally America: Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, the premier performance rally championship in the U.S. and a number of regional rally championships from coast to coast (www.rally-america.com).