D.I.R.T. Project RS Takes First in CRS GT & USRC Prod AWD at Prescott Rally
ALISO VIEJO, CA — In their first event ever, Aaron Ekinaka and Albert Goad in the DirtyImpreza.com Rally Team (DIRT) Project RS took the win in CRS-GT and USRC Production AWD at Prescott Rally this past October 1st and 2nd. Seeded dead last in 22nd position to start, their goal was to drive clean and smooth in order to finish the rally without destroying the recently built 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS. Their strategy paid off as over the two days they were able to advance up the leader board into 10th position overall. This feat was acknowledged at the awards ceremony by MSI and event organizer Michael Taylor in the form of a check for $50 to the “Most Improved Driver”.
“Simply finishing the rally was our main goal,” explained Aaron. “The whole rally was going to be a learning experience for us, and we knew if we pushed too hard, things could get ugly real quick. There’s not a lot of room for error on many of the stages in Prescott”.
There were challenges that had to be dealt with both before and during the race. The two year build was finished and it all came down to the technical inspection at Tim’s Subaru, where the Parc Expose was held. Not surprisingly, the car passed tech with flying colors thanks to Kyle Jackson’s meticulous attention to detail during the construction of this Subaru. They were cleared to race! Both sleep deprived and exhausted from long nights working the car before the race, Albert and Aaron were feeling sick with anticipation and anxiety about the event. Once in the car though, they found their rhythm and all ill feelings were quickly forgotten when the adrenaline started pumping.
Towards the end of Stage 2 (Witty Tom North), as it was getting very dark, the Impreza started smoking heavily after a power steering line came loose. The car lost all power steering when the fluid drained out but they were able to get back to service, even though it was later than their specified minute on the timecard. This resulted in a small penalty, although it was minor compared to the 1 minute penalty imposed on the #22 car for jumping the start earlier on the first stage of the day, a rookie driver mistake. After the crew patched the car up, they continued on through the remainder of the night stages. The dusty conditions in the dark were particularly challenging and they tried not to worry about the reported cattle on the roads they were racing on.
The final day of competition was in daylight, and after getting a good night’s rest they were better focused and steadily improving times were the result. Albert was delivering the notes well, and the two worked on their communication skills as the naturally aspirated boxer motor was pushed to the limit on the 20+ mile long PerkinsView and FirstVille stages. Having passed Kevin Welker and Jon Burke on the side of the road on the final stage, they took the lead.
Aaron recalled: “I really felt bad for Kevin and Jon as we went by them. They had triangles out, so I slowed to make sure they were OK, but saw them waving us along to keep going. I knew they had lost quite a bit of time if they were still there when we got to them, because they were seeded much higher than us. No one wants to win because of a mechanical failure, but guess that’s just a part of rallying”.
Overall the entire rally was a learning experience. Mistakes were made, but without any serious consequence. Albert took a lot away from the whole weekend and had this to say about his first time co-driving: “The communication was awesome. Of course we lost our place once or twice on the stages, but we were right back on track in no time. For me, it was a blast. It made me realize how important co-driving is and how much pressure a co-driver can feel about calling the correct notes and at the right time.”
The DIRT and crew would like to thank all the volunteers and organizers for putting on an amazing event. Without them we would not have a rally to participate in. These men and women work hard in challenging and difficult conditions to make this possible for guys like us. If you have a chance to volunteer at a local rally event, take advantage of it. Not only will you be supporting your local rally scene, but you’ll be up close to the action!