Press Release

August 29, 2003
Contact: Eric Burmeister
Burmeister Rallysport
Phone: 313-792-2397

Burmeister/Krolikowski Second in Minnesota as Class Championship Tightens

DETROIT, MICHIGAN -- The MAZDASPEED Rally Team USA traveled westward from the mountains of Maine to Bemidji, Minnesota this past weekend for the Ojibwe Forests ProRally, the sixth round for the Group 2 class in the SCCA ProRally Championship. The three main championship contenders were present as well as others wishing to make their mark at a national rally.

The action got underway on Friday night between the Group 2 front runners of Eric Burmeister/Cindy Krolikowski (Mazda Protege), Chris Whiteman/Mike Paulin (Dodge Neon), and Brian Scott/Dave Hackett (Ford Focus). Also, Matt Johnson/Dave Kean were a "wild card" entry...usually quick, but not running the whole series this year.

Eric Burmeister:
"We just have to run a clean rally and save the car for Washington in two weeks. We are leading the championship, but it is tight and we can't afford to throw it away by not finishing or by damaging the car beyond a quick repair. We can afford to push in Washington and Michigan...not here."

A pair of spins caught the Mazda team out on the first stage. A quick damper adjustment on the transit between stages 2 and 3 solved the handling issue, but it cost them precious seconds. Johnson/Kean took the early lead with Whiteman/Paulin close behind and the Mazda team right on their heels. Stage 5 saw the power steering belt leave the Protege and made for very strenuous driving on that stage and the two following.

Day two started out wet as rain poured down on the Northern Minnesota town throughout the night and into the morning. The strategy for Burmeister and Krolikowski remained intact as Johnson extended his lead and Whiteman ran well. There would be a time for pushing hard, but not at this rally, with such a short interval between events.

With just two stages to go, however, everything changed. As the MAZDASPEED team rolled up to the stage start, they saw Whiteman's Dodge in front of Johnson's VW. "Matt had a problem and Chris was trying to pass him hoping to widen the points gap between us," later recounted Burmeister. "That was just too many points between first and third! We had to fight back and throw our 'save the car' strategy out the window."

And fight back they did. Burmeister and Krolikowski made up 23 of their 38 second deficit on the second to last stage. They got past Johnson, but had 15 to go on the final 17 miler for the win. At midnight, the teams began that last stage for top honors. Burmeister took Whiteman by just one second...not enough for first, but still salvaging the points lead for the Group 2 Class Championship. "Now we can push," said Eric. "I think the last two races will be a blowout between Chris' team and ours. It sure is fun racing with your buddies!" Whiteman and Burmeister were college roomates, enjoyed motorsports together for several years, and now find themselves fierce rivals in the game of rallying. Despite all of this, they are still best of friends.

The SCCA ProRally series is a "stage" or "performance" rally series that stretches across the nation. Sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America and televised on SPEED CHANNEL, this form of motorsport is one of the fastest growing racing series in the United States. Competitors race flat out against the clock for hundreds of miles on a course of back roads closed to public usage. A co-driver or navigator describes the road in tremendous detail to the driver via an intercom system in the helmets.

For information on the SCCA ProRally series, check:

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