|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||May 11, 1981|
HOUGHTON LAKE, Michigan -- New Zealander Rod Millen, who now lives in Santa Ana, Calif., took his third PRO Rally win of the season in his Mazda RX-7 at the SCCA's Northern Lights Rally in Michigan today. Millen and co-driver Bob Kraushaar lead the field of 56 from beginning to end of the 11 hour, 275 mile event. The luck of the draw put the team at the front of the pack for the 7 p.m. Saturday start and gave them a decided advantage as they were the only team that did not have to eat the heavy Michigan dust.
In a rally that saw several of the favorites fall by the wayside with a variety of troubles, Jean-Paul Perusse, hung on to finish a strong second some three minutes behind the leaders in his Peugeot 504 V6 and moved into second place in the overall driver's standings. In the manufacturer's standings, Peugeot is still just a slim 12 points behind Mazda.
After these two factory-backed teams came some privateers who put on quite a show. Larry Schmidt, and his co-driver Joe Andreini, put their Dodge Colt into third place moving them into the top five in the overall Championship standings following a pair of fourth place finishes at events early in the season. Schmidt finished a mere 0.07 minutes (4 seconds) in front of a husband/wife team from New Jersey in a new car. Wayne and Debra Baldwin of Waldwick were a bit tentative in the early going with their new volvo 242, but once they got rolling, they really flamed and had the rally been a bit longer, might have caught the Michigan team.
The story of the night, however, was the tremendous battle going on in the Production Class where no less than 17 cars had entered. First, as it has three times early this year went to the Saab 99 of Jon Davis of Houghton, Michigan, and Harry Ward. Their strongest challenge was expected to be from the factory Peugeot 505 of Ann Arbor, Michigan, couple Gary and Carolyn Eaton. However, the Eatons had a variety of troubles, including an off-course excursion, that dropped them to sixth in the class. The teams that pushed the front wheel drive Saab all had four wheel drive. Michiganders Guy Light of Midland and Jim Brandt of Lake Odessa finished three minutes behind Davis in spite of nailing a tree dead center with their brand new AMC Eagle SX-4.
Third in Production went to a relatively new team, husband/wife Jim and Jennifer Warren who drive their Jeep CJ-7 faster than a great number of the Open Class competitors. All three of these Production teams finished in the top 10 in the overall results. A Production Volvo entered by Autoweek staffers George Levy and John Muihere weren't so lucky and had to settle for a 9th in the class.
Several "hot shoes" weren't around at the finish. John Buffum, the 1980 Champion and four time winner of this rally, blew the engine of his Audi 4000 on the third stage. Jon Woodner's new Cosworth-powered Datsun 510 went out with a blown ring and pinion on stage five while lying second and challenging for the lead. Texan Dick Turner went out late in the running when his IH Scout gave out a loud "bang" just after a service stop and rolled to a stop. John Woolf had a variety of troubles including a bad case of vapor lock and a broken differential which they replaced in the middle of the rally.
With barely a breath, the PRO Rally Circus moves to Texas and the Chisum Trail Rally on Memorial Day Weekend.
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Northern Lights EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Saginaw Valley Region, SCCA LOCATION: Houghton Lake, Michigan LENGTH: 275 miles, 20 stages DATE: May 9-10, 1981 WEATHER: Mild, very dry, dusty ENTRANTS: 56 FINISHERS: 41 TERRAIN: Forests, Rolling hills FIN. CHAMP MFG POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. Rod Millen, Santa Ana, Calif. Mazda Rx-7 1:57.56 20 20 Bob Kraushaar, Tigard, Ore. 20 2. Jean-Paul Perusse, Montreal, Que. Peugeot 504 2:00.49 15 15 John Grimshaw, The Colony, Tex. 15 3. Larry Schmidt, Rochester, Mich. Dodge Colt 2:07.19 12 12 Joe Andreini, St. Clair Shores, Mich. 12 4. Wayne Baldwin, Waidwick, N.J. Volvo OLT 2:07.26 10 10 Debra Baldwin, Waldwick, N.J. 10 5(1P) Jon Davis, Houghton, Mich. Saab 99 2:11.76 8 8 Harry Ward, Toldeo, Ohio 8 6. Bruno Kreibich, Ridgewood, N.J. Porsche 911 2:13.69 6 6 Scott Hughes, Loveland, Ohio 6 7. Eric Jones, Columbus, Ohio Datsun 510 2:14.05 4 4 Gary Grebus, Columbus, Ohio 4 8(2P) Guy Light, Midland, Mich. AMC Eagle SX-4 2:14.12 3 3 Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, Mich. 3 9(3P) Jim Warren, Midland, Mich. Jeep CJ-7 2:17.88 2 2 Jennifer Warren, Midland, Mich. 2 10. Sandy Liversidge, Jerico, Vermont Saab 99 2:18.52 1 1 Linda Wilcox, Jericho, Vermont 1 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1. Jon Davis, Houghton, Mich. Saab 99 2:11.76 20 20 Harry Ward, Toledo, Ohio 20 2. Guy Light, Midland, Mich. AMC Eagle SX-4 2:14.12 15 15 Jim Brandt, Lake Odessa, Mich. 15 3. Jim Warren, Midland, Mich. Jeep CJ-7 2:17.88 12 Jennifer Warren, Midland, Mich. 12 UNITED STATES RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS AFTER FIVE EVENTS DRIVER PRODUCTION DRIVER 1. Rod Millen 87 1. Jon Davis 95 2. Jean-Paul Persusse 50 2. Gary Eaton 63 3. John Buffum 47 3. Ray Hocker 30 4. Taisto Heinonen 35 5. Larry Schmidt 32 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. Bob Kraushaar 87 1. Harry Ward 95 2. Doug Shepherd 62 2. Carolyn Eaton 63 3. Tom Burgess 35 3. Damon Trimble 30 4. Joe Andrieni 32 5. Tom Grimshaw 26 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 87 1. Saab 95 2. Peugeot 75 2. Peugeot 63 3. Toyota 35 3. Dodge 48 4. Dodge 32 5. Volvo 20