Sunday, April 25, 2010

Olympus Rally 2010: Recap

Rough roads, washouts, rain storms, rollovers and big ticket breakdowns. Olympus Rally can be one of the most extreme stops on the Rally America Championship.

For the Northwind Racing Team, things started off good on Saturday with finishes on each of the tough stages near Ocean Shores. Our main concern was preserving the car for the smooth, fast roads that Sunday offers. We had no major setbacks, offs, or anything really too bad. A vacuum hose popping off and a sick co-driver were the biggest two issues we had until the second running of the Tahola stage.

During the Tahola W 1 stage the Saab 99 EMS started to make a really bad noise from the engine. We finished the stage under our own power (even though this isn't reflected in the results online) and made it all the way to service (after a little pushing). We were able to do some troubleshooting but the problem was terminal and we withdrew from the race. I suspect the problem was oil-pressure related, but it sounded like the timing chain and gears were having the biggest amount of trouble.

Since we were out, we packed the car up and headed back to Ocean City State Park where we were camping. We tried to relax and get some sleep. On Sunday James took the car back to my house and then went home; I took off at around 8:00 and headed to Smith Creek to spectate at Instruction 6 (W) / 14 (E) on Smith Creek Rd.

After we ate some sausages and fried prawns (huge damn prawns), we got our drinks and settled in on the hillside over instruction 6/14 and waited for the cars. The pro cars put on a good show on this corner, with quite a few of the regional guys not taking any chances with the corner: the route book note describes it as a "Double Caution Medium Right; Drops, Tightens, and Narrows Over Crest, Exposure Left." Most people slowed down; one of the regional guys hit the forest wall on the inside pretty good, nailing a crash cam placed there by one of our "drunk rednecks." I haven't seen the footage yet.

Dillon Van Way came into this corner (Instruction 6, Smith Creek W) really hot, with us cheering him on, but wasn't able to negotiate it - he ended up having some understeer issues and rolled off the "Exposure Left" and down a ravine, coming to rest upside down with the nose of the car pointing down the hillside (See video below.) Thankfully everyone was alright! The co-driver did have a laceration to his ankle from kicking out the window. Our drunken medic team administered first aid and secured the scene, all without spilling a drink. A few hours after the roll the amazing Northwest E-Crew got Dillon's car out of the ravine, and the car fired up without too much trouble. I hope they can get the car put back together in time for Oregon Trail Rally... Dillon is a very good driver and I hope he keeps racing and doesn't get discouraged!

Congratulations to Travis Pastrana on another hard-earned win. I assure you that victory at this rally does not come easy with the rough roads near the Washington Coast on Saturday, contrasted by the fast, smooth county roads near Brooklyn, WA.

Good job to everyone that finished! You earned it.

Be sure to check out the Rally America Website for results and stage times. For regional standings, select 'Regional Events' and choose John Nagel Rally / Gene Nielson Stage. Stages can be reviewed individually and times compared for both National and Regional events.

EDIT: Found this Video of Dillon's treck into the ravine on YouTube:

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