Press Release

May 7, 2001
  Contact: Paul Eklund
503-699-0311 ext 134 or

Subaru Dominates, First Win for new WRC Impreza

Lake Oswego, OREGON -- Mark Lovell and Steve Turvey never looked back after the first, short superstage of the grueling event. Their bright blue WRC spec Impreza definitely impressed the crowd as it rounded that stage and won nearly every other stage in the 2-day long event. Rhys Millen, who won the opening stage, held on to 2nd overall with an excellent finish in his factory EVO. Seamus Burke took 3rd (yet again) with his privateer entry. Fourth was Paul Choiniere in the Tiburon.

The Rim of the World lived up to its heritage of being one of the best and one of the toughest rallies on the North American circuit. Many teams suffered overheating, suspension breakage and transmission failures. Noel Lawler got off to an inauspicious start with his steering wheel coming off during the initial spectator stage and later the car suffered a broken halfshaft and retired. Lee Shadbolt suffered a broken differential as he launched on the spectator stage. An EVO even rolled at the end of that stage. With that much carnage occurring early, it looked to be a typically tough Rim.

Primitive Racing had its own share of minor problems the first night (mostly the turbo downpipe coming loose from the constant pounding of the infamous waterbar jumps) and was forced to use safety wire (can you say "baling wire") to hold the header on, worried about engine fires as the 1500 degree exhaust singed nearby power steering hoses and wiring. But the team finished the night in eighth position overall, just behind Paul Choiniere in the Tiburon.

Day two started just fine with another superstage and then the classic Del Sur hillclimb stage. Primitive held its own up and down the mountain and even played a key roll in helping another Subaru team repair a broken halfshaft during the turnaround stage (allowing them to later beat the Primitive team to the finish line). It was on the tight and twisty Leona Stage following Del Sur that the unthinkable again happened. While in a steady uphill acceleration in 2nd gear, Primitive Racing's newly rebuilt transmission again shattered second gear. "Second's gone again!" was the call from driver Paul Eklund as he shifted to 3rd, and co-driver Scott Huhn immediately responded, "five point seven miles to finish, and we have some uphill hairpins!"

The team struggled past the spectator area only able to shrug their shoulders as they limped past the cheering rally fans and then slipped the 6-button copper clutch mercilessly as they rounded the hairpin and slowly climbed the steep hill in third gear. Any other clutch would have failed with the amount of slipping that was needed to carry the team off that mountain. But the team made it back to service with the transmission stuck in 3rd gear. During the brief service interval, the volunteer service crew was able to pour the broken teeth out of the damaged transmission, and fill with new gear oil, but there was not time for Primitive to change the entire gearbox.

As Eklund sat disgusted in the back of the service van removing his driving suit, his dedicated crew (Richard Buckner, Jason Grahn, Bill Maley and Justin Foldesh) along with co-driver Scott Huhn, pounded the gear selector out of third. But it would not go back into 3rd gear. So now the team had 1st gear, 5th gear and reverse only. Press on regardless was the word of the day (and Huhn really wanted one of those cool "Rim 2001 Finisher" lapel pins) so Eklund suited up and the pair headed off on the 30+ mile transit to Libra Mountain stage. Along the way, they tried to get 3rd gear back and were finally successful on the old ridge highway just prior to the stage start. Getting the car into first gear required coming to a complete stop and getting into 3rd gear required finding the right location and literally pounding the shifter forward.

Despite these problems, Team Primitive finished both Libra Mountain and Maxwell Stages and returned to service. At service, crew chief Buckner noted a hole literally blown through the bottom of the transmission. Somewhere along the Maxwell stage, a gear tooth had literally been shot thru the casing causing all the gear oil to escape. The team had finished with no oil in the damaged transmission!

Having heard that Prodrive team had changed their Group N gearbox in about 17 minutes at the previous service, the Primitive volunteer crew went to work and swapped the transmission in only 48 minutes! At times it looked like a 3 Stooges movie in fast forward, as Eklund barked conflicting commands and helpers responded as best they could with wrenches and hammers and blood and sweat. But the crew got the job done and by the end of service the Impreza USX was cleaned, fueled, and ready to finish the rally. Many thanks to Hairpin Racing for the support and tools to complete the swap.

In the end, Primitive had dropped about 4 positions to 11th overall, but the thrill of finishing this rally despite these hardships was well worth it and to still have a respectable finish was a bonus! The team used only 2 sets of Silverstone 525 soft compound tires during the event and found the tires to work well on the varying road surfaces ranging from asphalt to deep sand.

Look for more stories from Rim to appear in upcoming issues of GrassRoots Motorsports magazine, check out the coverage at or simply email me at

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