|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
August 1, 1999
|For more information, contact: John Dillon|
Creativity in Action
P.O. Box 1231
Thousand Oaks, CA 91358-0231
Web site: http://www.teamleconte.com
Rumford, Maine -- John Dillon of Thousand Oaks, California captured the lead in the Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship in the Production GT category after finishing 5th at the Maine Forest Rally near Rumford. The event moved driver Kendall Russell of Knoxville, Tennessee up to second in the standings. Three races remain in the season.
"I'm thrilled to have taken the points lead at Maine," enthused Dillon. "My job is to keep Kendall on the road and on time so she can focus on what she does best--drive fast," he added. "We're working well together and she's getting quicker every race."
It's a season of firsts for Dillon in this his third year of serious rally competition. It's his first season of full National competition, his first time leading in the points race, his first trip to Maine, and the first time he had to worry about the race car.
The Dodge Shadow ES, normally a rock solid performer, seemed down on power in Maine. The odometer rolled over to 49,000 miles. Quipped one pundit, "that's a million miles in dog years." The stress of the rocky trails in Rumford is beginning to show. Fortunately for Team LeConte, crew chief Lincoln Woodard is an ace at keeping the car together. A couple of hard hits during Stage 8 made shifting gears difficult, but he was able to repair the damage in time for the next stage.
"While I'm disappointed we didn't finish higher, I've proven we can be there at the finish, which is what counts in a tough series like this," said Russell. "We've got the momentum going now--we'll continue to make the extra effort in order to earn the championship."
Team LeConte is a self-funded effort; its only sponsors being Shults Dot Com for web services and Porterfield Enterprises for brake products, so the team is especially pleased to be doing this well on such a shoestring budget. "We've criss-crossed the country four times so far with at least two more long distance hauls on the schedule," noted Russell. "It's all on Kendall's nickel--we're still waiting for the big prize money and sponsor dollars to roll in!" laughed Dillon.
On a side note, the team's second car, a Triumph TR7 driven by John K. Shirley, lost its motor in testing the Monday before the rally and so could not compete in Maine. Co-driver Phil Barnes attended the race, volunteering as a checkpoint worker to help the organizers.
The Michelin SCCA ProRally Championship is a series of races for "Real Cars, on Real Roads, Real Fast." The driver and co-driver work as a team, racing across rugged logging trails, forest roads and narrow desert passages. PGT is the ProRally category for unmodified, larger-displacement vehicles such as Team LeConte's Dodge Shadow, the Mitsubishi Eclipse, and the Mazda 323. Three races remain in the 1999 season--Ojibwe Forest Rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, Prescott Forest Rally in Arizona and the Lake Superior ProRally in Houghton, Michigan. "The next three races are going to be tough--we'll continue to face off with the best rally teams in the country," said Russell. "But we'll do our best to beat 'em," added Dillon.
Team LeConte had planned to race in Canada for three events but budget constraints may force them to scratch those races from the schedule. "We'd hoped to compete for the North American Rally Cup but our focus right now has to be the U.S. championship," the driver stated. "If need be, I can wait another year to race in Canada," observed Dillon. "I'll just make it part of my R2K (Rally 2000) plans!"