LEBEC, Calif. (August 20, 2015) - The long awaited 26th running of the Gorman Ridge Rally is set for Saturday, August 22nd in Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area, with event headquarters at the Holiday Inn Express in Lebec.
The longest-running rally in California, Gorman Ridge is the fourth event in the regional California Rally Series championship and the third event in the NASA Pacific Rally Cup (a qualifying series for the NASA National Rally Championship). Also featured are cash prizes via the NASA Rally Sport 2C 2WD Challenge, which will pay out through fifth place.
Following the retirement of longtime organizers Ray & Donna Hocker in 2014, Tony & Raquel Chavez stepped up to join existing co-organizers Brian & Stacey Hamblin. The newly formed team has worked diligently over the past year to ensure the rally's success continues seamlessly. Tony, longtime competitor and the currently-elected CRS Director, said, “Brian and Stacey are the ones who made it possible. Their years of experience as co-organizers are invaluable for this new era of Gorman”. Brian noted, “We've really enjoyed the enthusiasm that Tony & Raquel bring with them. This new partnership has been both fruitful and fun.”
Although the new Gorman Ridge Rally will have a few changes, expect the same solid event operations. “We rely on a fantastic network of volunteer teams who've kept our rally running like clockwork with minimal to no delay and without a stage cancellation over the last decade,” said Brian. “And our partnership with Hungry Valley SVRA is as strong as ever, including the expansion of a grading plan to groom the roads to make them the best they've looked in a long time.”
For championship reasons, Gorman consists of two events. “Condor Stages” (a coefficient 2, stages 1 – 9) is a nod to the region's ecological significance as the home of the California Condor via the nearby Sespe Condor Sanctuary and a hunting ground within the ORV area known as Condor Mesa, as well as a tongue-in-cheek reference to new organizer Chavez' multi-championship Condor Rally team. The Condor Stages roads are the fastest of the rally, which includes Maxey, one of Gorman’s most thrilling stages and the location of the family-friendly spectator area.
“The Cliffs of Gorman” (coefficient 2, stages 10-16) is a throwback to Gorman's roots: when it was started in the 1980s, the Gorman Ridge Rally was originally called The Cliffs of Gorman. Featuring the precarious Powerline-Wheatfield stage, a service road cut into the side of sandstone ridges, The Cliffs is technical, tight, and twisty, and includes the infamous triple caution jump featured on this year's event T-shirt.
Gorman Ridge Rally is a qualifying event for competitors to participate in the NASA National Rally Championship, an invitation-based, winner-take-all format held at the end of the season. Competitors accrue season points toward the AWD or 2WD championship invitation based on their event results OR can secure their slot by setting the fastest time on the Power Stage. This year's Gorman Power Stage is the final Stage 16, grueling Powerline-Wheatfield, which will have the added challenge of being run after dark.
Some of the teams to watch at the 2015 Gorman Ridge Rally:
All Wheel Drive
Prepared to defend his 2014 Gorman win, John Trucks may find he has to pull out all the stops with his Suburu STi in this field of fierce competition.
Tingwu “Rick” Song is a top contender in his Mitsubishi Evolution. His first and only time at Gorman was in 2013, where he won the event, beating Kris Psara.
Kris Psara returns in his Subaru STi, fresh off a CRS win at the Mendocino Rally in July. His focus may be the battle with Josh Jacquot, who is also in a powerful Subaru STi. Both teams are tied in the CRS championship with 500 points each, and they’ll surely be swapping stage times as they go head to head for the first time.
Returning to Gorman after an 11 year absence is George Plsek in a Mitsubushi Evolution. His last appearance here resulted in the overall win and it’s great to have him back – especially since Gorman was his first ever rally in a two wheel drive Saab.
Two Wheel Drive
The husband and wife team of Markus & Alicia Saarinen are back in CRS-2 and will be looking for some redemption after a DNF at last year’s race in their Mini Cooper, when a mistake over a crest literally ripped the wheels off. Currently in first place in the CRS championship, a win here would give them a commanding lead.
Not to be outdone by another couples team is Ryan Millen and fiancé, Christina Fate. Racing this event for the first time, Millen, a championship off-road racer with rally lineage in his blood, will put his Toyota-sponsored RAV-4 to the test on the rough terrain.
It may be third time's the charm for Bret Robinson, who returns to Gorman looking to finish strong and climb up a few spots on the CRS championship with his VW Golf, a popular platform in 2WD.
10 years after his last appearance at Gorman in a Honda CRX, Andrew Lockhart returns in a VW Golf. He captured a 2WD podium finish at Mendocino, so look to him to be a contender.
Top-level co-driver, local favorite, and all-around rally animal Christine Beavis is back behind the wheel in her VW Jetta. She couldn't get her husband (factory rally team driver Matthew Johnson) to sit in the silly seat due to scheduling conflicts, so she went one better and recruited colleague Ericka Sacks. Earlier this year, both women completed the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, a grueling 9-day trek across the deserts of Northern Africa.
NEW SERVICE LOCATION
A BBQ during the dinner break after Condor Stages will once again be hosted by Boy Scouts Troop 444. Parc Exposé, service, and dinner will be located at the new Honey Valley Group Camp facility, which features a pavilion with a large table and seating area, amphitheater, additional toilets, and an expanded parking area.
Spectating the event is free, beyond the $5/car entrance fee charged by the park. The spectator area is accessible by street car (four wheel drive is NOT required) and marshals will be present to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Spectators are also invited to observe the cars during the service breaks. Please visit http://www.GormanRally.com/spectators for more information.
The event features live scoring and text-based updates, presented by RallyData.com, available through the event's website. Facebook members can find us at http://www.facebook.com/groups/gormanridge/, and follow @gormanridgerally on Twitter. Please make sure to hashtag the event #GormanRally2015.
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About stage, performance rally:
Stage rallying, or rally racing, is often defined as “real cars, on real roads, going real fast.” It is a form of auto racing that takes place on closed public or private roads in modified production or specially built road-legal vehicles. A co-driver, or navigator, has a set of incremental instructions he or she reads to the driver. Teams follow a point-to-point format of stages that make up the rally, leaving the start of each stage at regular intervals. Victory is claimed, using a combination of skill and speed, to the team who finished with the lowest overall time. Competitors are divided into classes based on factors such as power train and engine size. However, it is more than just the team and their cars—it is a family, a community of many dedicated people work together. Rally involves competitors, service crews and volunteer workers.
About NASA Rally Sport: http://www.nasarallysport.com
NASA Rally Sport is a sanctioning body dedicated solely to stage rallying in the United States that provides a customer-driven organization offering safe, fair competition. It provides affordable events for competitors, volunteers, organizers and sponsors. Its goal is to keep fees as low as possible; in turn, cost is kept down for organizers and competitors alike. Its focus is on the sportsman-level competitor working with each organizer to help them put on great events for the grassroots racers that are the backbone of this sport.
About the California Rally Series: http://californiarallyseries.com/
The CRS is the performance rally championship in the southwestern United States. The Series incorporates events from various sanctioning bodies in order to create a meaningful regional championship for its members. The Series celebrates more than 40 continuous years of performance rally, making it the longest running rally series in the United States. To learn more about the California Rally Series visit www.californiarallyseries.com and follow @crspress on twitter.