FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2003
Contact: Andrew Havas,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina -- The "Orange Team" of American driver Andrew Havas and Canadian co-pilot Eric "T" displayed a high level of commitment clocking in seemingly unobtainable stage times for a rear-wheel drive car in difficult snow and ice conditions during last weekend's running of the RIQ. At the end of Saturday's Leg One, the team were classified 10th overall, comfortably leading all two-wheel drive cars by over four minutes. Havas and the "T" finished the day ahead of no less than fifteen four-wheel drives, and even more impressive is that differential problems meant at times the CHOI 98.1 FM Radio X Mazda RX-7 had only one wheel drive!
Thousands of spectators at Saturday evenings' Hippodrome Super Special were treated to a classic 'David and Goliath' match-up, and by all reports gave the loudest cheers of the night when the underdog team of Havas and the "T" bested it's four-wheel drive opponent. Orange was prevalent in the service park as well, and fans were enjoying the show that included the attendance of the Team's new Mascot, Mine (pronounced 'min'), a 2000 pound draft horse decked out in team colours!
At the beginning of Leg Two, teams had to contend with 15cm of fresh snow in the Parc de Laurentide, which made the going tricky for everyone. On SS7, Havas spun on the very narrow stage and lost over a minute. On SS8, Havas was caught out once again and became high centered on the exit of a very slow corner in deep snow, and lost over 9 minutes digging out before getting a tow from the four-wheel drive car of Thompson/Hendricksen.
After wowing the crowds with some lurid slides as snow fell on the two spectator stages in downtown Quebec, the team headed back to the central service park to discuss strategy. Now lying 3rd among the two-wheel drives, and 13th overall, it was decided to push 100% in the repeat running of the two Parc de Laurentide stages.
"We took the decision to invest in the future, by testing our pace notes at flat-out speeds. It would be easy to have just cruised to the finish, but nothing would be learned." said Eric "T". "We saw the opportunity to challenge ourselves and really turn it up, World Rally Championship style!"
The result of the strategy was nothing short of stunning. On SS11, the same narrow 14.86km stage the team spun in earlier, Havas and the "T" flew to a storming 6th overall stage time, just 37 seconds slower than current Canadian National Champion Richard in the four-wheel drive factory Subaru Canada entry! In one amazing stage, the team climbed back to 10th overall, and closed the gap to less than a minute over the 2WD leader, the Belgian team of Jullien and Borremans.
"We were really flying, flat-out, it was great!" said Havas. "Unfortunately, we became stuck a number of times on the final stage in the deep snow, and even managed a complete 360 degree spin at over 100kph. These were probably some of the most challenging conditions we have competed in, and even though we dropped to 14th overall, we retained a 2nd place class finish, and learned a lot in the process. Congratulations are in order to Dominique and Dennis on a well deserved 2WD win, and thanks as well because they helped us out of a snow bank on SS12! We hope to visit Belgium someday and challenge them on their own ground."
The Orange Team are supported in part by CHOI 98.1 FM Radio X, En Piste (Tele-Mag 24), Moliflex-White, and Brossard Performance of Quebec; EarlsIndy.com, and Bosch; but are still seeking major sponsorship for the rest of the 2003 Season. With the radio and television support (as well as the support from the Orange Fan Club) they are receiving, it seems like good things are in store for Team Havspeed.com. Watch for them on the upcoming Rallye International Charlevoix here in Quebec later this year.