|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
February 16, 2000
|Contact: Mike White, RallyHo! Motorsports|
MANIWAKI, QUEBEC -- A failed gearbox forced an early exit for RallyHo! Motorsports last weekend, but driver Mike White of Keene, New Hampshire, remains upbeat for the season's upcoming events.
White and co-driver Mike Ronan of Dover, New Hampshire, were quickly moving up through the field of 45 cars in their specially prepared 1980 SAAB 99 GLi when the gearbox failed on the fourth stage of the event. While the team was disappointed, White and Ronan were happy to report a top-15 stage time just before their car's gearbox failed.
White gives much of the credit for their speed to the tires supplied by winter tire sponsor Nokian. "The Nokian Hakkapaaliita Q's gave us a very stable, predictable level of grip on the icy roads," White said. "These tires offered the most remarkable braking performance I've ever witnessed in a winter tire. They definitely kept us out of the ditch a number of times!"
White was also impressed by the durability of the tires. He bounced them off several rocks during the rally -- usually severely damaging to winter tires -- without a scratch. Thanks to Nokian's durability, the tires are still good for the next race. "After 30 miles of flat-out driving on stage roads and another 100 miles of transits, the tires still look brand new, they even have the 'fuzzies' on the tread!" White said.
The sport of stage rally is all about driving as fast as possible on closed roads. Drivers race against the clock on roads they haven't driven on before. The co-driver alerts the driver to hazards that are indicated in the rally route book and then holds on for dear life as the car hurtles down the road at speeds that often reach more than 100 mph on dirt or snow-covered roads.
Not to be held back, Crew Chief Brett Rudolf is already at work repairing and improving the Saab for the next event in May. "Since we have to remove the engine and transmission, we're going to use this as an opportunity to build a more powerful and more durable drivetrain," Rudolf said.
The team is also using the time to secure additional sponsorship for this year and beyond. "We're talking to several regional and national companies about ways we can help promote their products through our team," Ronan said. "Rallying is getting more popular with the traditional racing fan and the extreme sports enthusiast. We offer great exposure for the right companies."
The Canadian series team of Tom McGeer of Georgetown, Ontario and Mark Williams of North Potomac, Maryland won the rally in their Subaru Impreza WRX. Other notable finishes include a second place finish by North American rally legend John Buffum of Colchester, Vermont, also in a Subaru Impreza. The Lyndeborough, New Hampshire team of Ted and Lise Mendham finished 12th overall in their Nissan Sentra SE-R.