Rally New York
This weekend we traveled to New York to several towns that have more letters in them than I can remember. The event was Rally New York and the preparation started about three weeks ago when we got word from our good friend Burak of Rally-Tire that we would have a visiting team from Turkey joining us for this small rally. It was said to be a feeler for them to gauge the benefits of future participation in US rally. We dusted off the old STI and prepped her with a new motor, rebuilt the suspension and gave her a solid once-over in hopes that she could once again lead us onto the podium as she had all year under the care of Ramana Lagemann.
The car looked good after all the work, possibly better than it ever had (sorry Ramana) and it was definitely ready to race. The car was wrapped again with Lassa’s logo. The wrapping process cut into our preparation time a little bit throughout the week as the vinyl printer first made it pink, then a shade of grapefruit after we had specifically asked simply for “red” both times. We were trying to get everything to be as perfect as possible given the conditions and time constraints.
Lassa was to send their pilot Volkan Isik and copilot Vedat Bostanci do represent the Turkish tire manufacturer along with several team representatives and tire experts. A set of 20 tires were sent to MD from Turkey for testing a few weeks before and heroically driven up by team owner Burak Tuglu as there was a shipping malfunction that prohibited us from getting them on time.
The motor was finished and installed only two days before the rally, not on purpose but because of the delays caused by the vinyl company. Things were busy and rushed as usual but they had gone well.
The crew left DSG on Wednesday morning to meet the rest of the team at Kearny’s rally village in upstate NY for testing. Scot and Volkan hit it off well and Volkan made many adjustments to the suspension settings, graphing the changes with Scot as they worked toward the best possible setup given the limited parts we had on hand. The car ran well and had completed about 3 hours of testing when the loss of a motor mount nut caused the engine to shift and smash into the frame rail, breaking the cam cover and damaging the gear. The tail light also broke out of it’s housing at some point in the test session. Fellow RNY entrants looked on, seemingly in shock as they were in for a big challenge. Volkan was fast. We had to get the car back in shape fast and we were hundreds of miles from home.
Ben drove out Wednesday night from DSG after he, Matt and Bill organized Subaru’s resources from Norwood’s warehouse and the always reliable Clay Subaru (after hours, thanks MIKE!!) to get a new timing belt, cam gear, cover, tail light, special tool for removing the gear as well as some other parts. We changed the timing belt in the hotel parking lot on Thursday morning as well as a wheel bearing, turbocharger and some other small parts. The car was back in action.
The rally was small and perhaps not a good representation of what we hoped to show our guests, who compete all over Europe at much larger events. They felt at home and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere before the rally started. There were some operational inconsistencies that gave the flavor of a real down-home event that surprised our team but everyone took it in stride. Volkan had a local fan club of Turkish rally fans who came out to support him.
Photographers came to us all day commenting on the team and how they were excited to see a new face in the competition. One person commented that “Volkan was the only Pilot at the rally, the rest were all customers” We would soon see that this was not only true but that this Pilot should have landed at another rally. Volkan’s driving was inspired, even in a production car, far more committed to every turn we watched, no brakes, earliest turn in and smoothest without question. Other drivers had better cars, more power and more familiarity with the local conditions however they couldn’t match Volkan.
We suffered two flat tires that morning; one was changed on a transit and the other on stage. The roads were strewn with sharp shale rocks and big round boulders that tore the rocker panels and Kevlar underbody right off the car. The muffler case cracked, the cast iron spindles weren’t even round where they should have been, cut and smashed flat by rocks. Several cars dropped out that morning. Missing from the start list was an Evo X with a broken tie rod, another with a misfire and an exhaust leak that grew worse with more stage miles and a Subaru with what looked to be a steering problem. Our old STI just soldiered on for us, taking direct hits to the gas tank as the Kevlar protection kept shredding away.
Mid morning the drivers were called to a meeting in the middle of the parking lot led by one or two outspoken local teams. Under FIA rules Volkan was seeded first and had first road position as a result. The organizers originally decided on a two-minute start interval. Through a miscommunication or lack of, the interval was shortened to one, which others complained (correctly) gave our team an unfair advantage due to dust and low visibility for those not first on the road. The drivers swore and yelled at the organizer who folded and gave them a three minute interval and cancelled stage 4, a stage where we made up time and had no problems.. Volkan agreed to this like a gentleman. He was very surprised that the organizer permitted such unrest and also that a meeting could be called without an official inquiry process.
Volkan continued to win every stage and maintain about a one-minute lead with the DSG prepped production car all the way to the finish.
Friday night, after one day of rallying we heard that there was an inquiry filed against our team about an illegal roadside service on transit. We literally thought it was a joke and that teams were just getting nervous. We knew that the Turkish team was too experienced to make such an error. We were later surprised to find out that the inquiry would be what undid our eventual win, despite inconclusive statements and video that proved nothing by the admission of even the rally officials. We were given a 45-minute penalty for a rule that had to be dug from the bowels of the Internet over a three-hour search period. Members of the team broke that rule, but doing so in no way helped our driver. It was simply that our team was too close to him on a transit. The winner by default had left, there was no awards ceremony, no champagne spray and our celebration had fallen on deaf ears as the few spectators had left, unable to wait for this unbelievably long and absurd protest period, which lasted into the night.
That was NY. …a huge success for our team but no record to show for it.
We won every rally we entered (serviced) this year but the two during which we were given penalties. We would have won those were it not for the penalties. We’re so lucky to be crewing for some seriously amazing drivers. A big thanks goes out to Ramana Lagemann for putting us on the map and finishing on the podium every time with such professionalism and ease, Burak for entrusting us with his great efforts and Volkan Isik and crew for a tremendous finish last weekend.
IN OTHER NEWS
VT Sportscar announced that they would be hosting the Mt Washington Hillclimb this weekend.
We all knew it was coming. The official word is that there will be a 70 car field. All cars will have to be compliant to Rally America safety rules with the exception (maybe?) of a few vintage cars that will be invite-only. We hope to compete there. I personally want to take the EVO on a bonsai run either ending it’s 15 year walk on this earth or making some kind of bigger, perhaps more positive impression on the books.
Nick, K-Rhodes and possibly Pierre will be going to Ascutney hillclimb this weekend. Nick will be debuting the M3…
and working it’s two(?!) driven tires to the max over the bumpy, narrow road. K-Rhodes had his launch control tuned by Matt today and it makes 8psi off the line. We’re still waiting for the Rally-Tire Evo to come out of the fenced area and join us for some fun. Perhaps that will be at Philo in October when Rally-Tire owner and team manager Burak Tuglu of www.btmsport.com will do a shakedown at Philo.
Final bits of information-
- We’re hoping to be at the Nov. Rallycross in NJ. Fingers crossed.
- My Evo is still at the body shop. I crashed it racing. It’s not done. Thanks for asking.
- Bill is planning on going to NJMP for the final COM event of the year.
- We’ve been working on a whole ton of Z and G cars VQ35s may become the new Subaru for DSG. Lots of UPRev tuning going on. Call Matt for more info.