|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
June 3, 2001
|Contact: John Dillon|
Creativity in Action
P.O. Box 1231
Thousand Oaks, CA 91358-0231
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania -- Lauchlin O'Sullivan (San Francisco) set a new course record on the Phasa Run stage at the Susquehannock Trail ProRally (STPR) on June 2nd, 2001. He and co-driver John Dillon (Thousand Oaks, CA) set a time of 10.09 for the 10 mile stage, beating the old mark of 10.14 which had stood for seven years. Even more amazingly, the car was a rented Eclipse that the team had never even seen before the weekend of the event.
"We were astonished when Mark Utecht pointed out the significance of our stage time," reported O'Sullivan. "We had lost the brakes over twenty miles earlier. I had to pump them up on the straights so there'd be a little something in the pedal for the tight corners."
"I wish we had Porterfield brakes installed on the car," added the co-driver. Normally the team relies exclusively on Porterfield pads but since it was a rental car they had no control over equipment selection. "We wore these others down to bare metal in less than two stages," said O'Sullivan.
By the fifth stage the team was leading the PGT ranks overall by almost a minute. However, about halfway into the sixth stage, smoke in the cockpit indicated engine trouble. The two racers stopped to investigate. "We didn't see anything under the hood except a glowing red-hot turbo," said the co-driver. "Lauchlin started the car a couple of times, but the engine didn't sound right so we shut it down. We didn't want to blow up the engine, especially since it was a rental." O'Sullivan added, "The car felt like it lost power earlier in the stage, but otherwise there didn't seem to be any problems. During the stage John checked the temperature guage several times but didn't spot anything out of the ordinary."
In mid-May, prospects for O'Sullivan and Dillon at STPR, normally racing for M&M Motorsports, looked slim. Their car needed a thorough going-over, crew chief Tom Laeng would be out of commission for several weeks due to knee surgery, and the team's driver didn't even have plane tickets. However, thanks to the power of the internet and the help of several rallyists, O'Sullivan and Dillon managed to rent a rally car from Aiden McCormack of New York City. McCormack's car, a 1991 Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, is similar to the '94 model that O'Sullivan usually races, but has smaller brakes and weaker suspension. "I co-drove for Kendall Russell in 1999," stated Dillon. "She suggested I contact Nial Donnelly, who in turn put us in touch with Aiden. We owe them all a lot of gratitude for helping pull this deal together so quickly."
For O'Sullivan, his first trip to STPR was eye-opening. "These roads are awesome," he praised. "They feature long fast straights with great grip connected by very challenging corners. I had expected the course to be much twistier." His co-driver has raced in Wellsboro twice before--in 1999 with Kendall Russell and in 2000 with Mark Nelson.
With their regular crew chief out of commission, Dillon's wife Donna stepped up to the task of organizing the service areas. She made no claims to being mechanically adept, but instead focused on her organizational strengths. She coordinated efforts between Shane Polhemus and Dale Cook, crewmen from two other other teams (Tony Chavez/Doug Robinson and Paul/Yvon Dubinsky) that had offered to help turn wrenches for O'Sullivan and Dillon. When the car entered service with more serious problems (blown-out brake calipers, a side effect of the worn out pads) she tackled mundane tasks like cleaning windows and wrestling with the light bar, allowing the experienced crew to solve the more difficult issues. Because of the severity of the problems, McCormack's usual crew guys were recruited and quickly affected repairs with Polhemus and Cook ready to lend a hand where needed.
While this is the third DNF in a row for the team, O'Sullivan and Dillon continue to remain optimistic. "All our problems so far have been mechanical," said Dillon. "Lauchlin is a great driver who keeps the car on the road and saves a little something in reserve for unexpected situations." O'Sullivan pointed out "There are still five races left on the calendar, so we have plenty of opportunity to win this championship." With regular crew chief Tom Laeng returning to action in time for the Maine Summer Rally in late July, and with the M&M team's regular Eclipse rejuvenated during the break, expect a strong result at the next rally. O'Sullivan and Dillon have proven on several occasions that they have the skill and motivation to "rally on."