|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||April 19, 1982|
TUMWATER, Washington -- John Buffum, driving the new Audi Quattro four-wheel-drive super-car, simply ran off and hid from the opposition at the Olympus PRO Rally this weekend. The Vermont native and his partner Doug Shepherd led the 424 mile SCCA event from the opening gun and were never seriously challenged. That isn't to say that people weren't trying. Rod Millen, the current U.S. Rally Champion and winner of the first two events this season, drove his Mazda RX-7, "As hard as I have ever driven in my life," only to finish second more than five minutes behind the Buffum/Shepherd/Quattro combine.
Five-time Canadian Rally Champ Taisto Heinonen drove his Toyota Corolla to third another four minutes back and two minutes ahead of New Zealander John Woolf in the Peugeot 504 Coupe. Another Kiwi, Clive Smith, put his Chevrolet Chevette into fifth well behind the leaders. Early contender Jon Woodner parked his Datsun 510, "in the top of a big tree" on stage nine of the 17 stage event after going off the road at speed. The tree kept them from going over the edge of a very steep mountain.
Production Class was a tight battle all night with one of the early leaders, John Crawford, going out after the car got stuck as he was trying to turn the Dodge Omni around after, going off course on a stage. Guy Light lost third gear in his Oldsmobile Firenza and, on the transit zone after stage 7, lost control at a tricky railroad crossing intersection, plunging the car down a 30 foot embankment. Light and co-driver Cam Warren were shaken and bruised but otherwise undamaged.
That left the lead to Gene Henderson in his 4wd AMC Eagle SX/4, but that didn't last. On stage 10 the car rolled, ending wheels up on the stage. That put Sandy Liveroidge and his Saab in the lead by a very slight amount over the Audi Coupe of Bill Brooks and the Plymouth Arrow of Steve Nowicki. Liversidge opened up a bit of a gap only to slide off the road and get stuck in the trees just two stages from the end. Nowicki then got some minor problems corrected and reeled the Audi in winning the class by six seconds.
After the rally, the winner and loser reflected on what had happened and what it meant. Said Buffum, "This one was sweet. Last week we were fortunate, the rally ended while we were ahead. We had no problems with the car other than an occasional rub of the B.F.G's on the fenderwells. This was really a Quattro rally.''
Millen was a bit glum. "We drove as hard as we could but just couldn't catch him. We figure we're about three seconds a mile slower than the Quattro. The car (the Mazda RX-7) is about as fast an we can make it. There will be rallies where we do well or he has a problem but it will be tough to defend our championship.'' In the PRO Rally Championship, Millen continues to lead with 70 Championship points to Buffum's 40 followed by Woolf with 37. Olympus was Audi's second event this season and 04 second win. It seems obvious that the stakes for playing with the big boys just Went Way Up.
Will the Audi Supercar so dominate the sport as to destroy all inLerest? "Sure," said Jon Woodner, "The way Mohammed Ali destroyed interest in boxing or Bjorn Borg did in tennis.'' With barely time to clean up their cars, the PRO Rally Tour heads for Michigan and the Northern Lights PRO Rally in Houghton Lake, May 1-2.
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Olympus EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Northwest Region, SCCA LOCATiON: Tumwater, Washington LENGTH: 425 miles, 17 stages, 165 stage miles DATE: April 17-18, 1982 WEATHER: Intermittent rain and hail ENTRANTS: 54 FINISHERS: 31 TERRAIN: Forest, low mountains PROD PROD FIN. CHAMP. MFG. CHAMP. MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS POINTS POINTS 1. John Buffum, S. Burlington, VT Audi Quattro 193.75 20 20 Doug Shepherd, Livonia, MI 20 2. Rod Millen, Costa Mesa, CA Mazda RX-7 198.78 15 15 R.Dale Kraushaar, Tigard, OR 15 3. Taisto Heinonen, Surrey, B.C. Toyota Corolla 202.40 12 12 Martin Headland, Surrey, B.C. 12 4. John Woolf, Livonia, MI Peugeot 504 204.00 10 10 Grant Whittaker, Livonia, MI 10 5. Clive Smith, Calgary, Alberta Chev Chevette 216.98 8 8 Dave Poston, Costa Mesa, CA 8 6. Steve Parker, Redmond, WA Mazda RX-3 225.66 6 Roger Blain, Des Moines, WA 6 7. Topi Hynynen, North Hollywood, CA Volvo 142 228.04 4 Adrian Crane, Palo Alto, CA 4 8.(1P) Steve Nowicki, North Berlin, WI Plymouth 230.55 3 20 20 Dave Weirrian, Seattle, WA Arrow 3 20 9.(2P) Bill Brooks, Olympia, WA Audi Coupe 230.64 2 15 15 Bill Banger, Toeur D'Alene, ID 2 15 10. Steve Roberts, Bellevue, WA Mazda RX-2 232.11 1 Don Gibson, Tacoma, WA 1 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Steve Nowicki, North Berlin, WI Plymouth 230.55 20 20 Dave Weirrian, Seattle, WA Arrow 20 2. Bill Brooks, Olympia, WA Audi Coupe 230.64 15 15 Bill Banger, Toeur D'Alene, ID 15 3. Bruce Davis, Carmichael, CA Plymouth 244.66 12 Mike Neff, Sacramento, CA Arrow 12 UNITED STATES RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER FOUR EVENTS DRIVER (Current Car) PRODUCTION DRIVER (Current Car) 1. Rod Millen, Mazda 70 1. Gene Henderson, AMC 32 2. John Buffum, Audi 40 2. Sandy Liversidge, Saab 28 3. Jon Woolf, Datsun 37 3. Guy Light, Oldsmobile 23 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. R. Dale Kraushaar 70 1. Jim Kloosterman 32 2. Doug Shepherd 40 2. Jim Brandt 23 3. Grant Whittaker 37 3. Harry Ward 21 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 70 1. Saab 35 2. Audi 40 2. AMC 32 3. Peugeot 37 3. Ford 20 Plymouth 20