Press Release

January 16, 2003
Contact: Matt Cleary
Phone: (317) 523-4087

O'Neil Takes Group N Win to Close 2002 Season, Looks Forward to 2003

Franconia, New Hampshire -- Air Force Reserve Racing added one more trophy to their case by winning the Group N class in the Ramada Express Hotel Casino International Rally in Laughlin, Nevada. Thanks to some very fast section times, and the hard work of the AV Sport crew, the Air Force Reserve-sponsored Subaru WRX driven by Tim O'Neil placed first in class, and an astounding third overall to close out the 2002 season.

The event was organized by the American Rally Sport Group, and was won by Mark Nelson and Alex Gelsomino in the Prodrive-prepared Subaru WRX with Rhys Millen and Chrissy Beavis coming home second in their Lancer Evo VII.

O'Neils win was not without its challenges, but he had the speed to overcome them, and the team to back up his effort. O'Neil was overjoyed at the win, and feels that the high-speed nature of this rally will help him as he steps up to the Open Class in SCCA ProRally competition in 2003.

"This was a great team effort after some of the setbacks we had," said O'Neil. "Teamwork is such an important part of this sport, and our result is a good demonstration of that. For me, it took some time to get acclimated to the speeds we were carrying, but you get used to it after some time. You have to think as far ahead as possible."

O'Neil's Subaru had to receive extensive repairs twice during the rally-once after blowing out a tire on a high speed jump, and again when an off-course excursion forced the AV Sport crew to make some dramatic repairs to the car.

"Several of us got the notes just a little off. It was an 'over the crest right,' and we all thought we could just stay right, but as it turned out, there wasn't enough room, and we hit a rock pile at about 100 miles an hour," said O'Neil. "This is the only rally where you make your own notes, and we do it at 30 mph, and then try it out again at 100, so sometimes that can catch up with you, like it did here."

Air Force Reserve Racing will race next at the Sno-Drift Rally in Atlanta, Michigan January 24-5. The Rally will be the first for O'Neil in the ultra-competitive Open Class. O'Neil will campaign the Air Force Reserve Ford Focus next season, and is looking forward to the increase in speeds and competition that he will face in 2003.

Ramada Express International Rally
Official Final Overall Classification (Results)
Place # Driver / Co-Driver Car Score Place Class

  1. 1 Mark Nelson / Alex Gelsomino 1 Subaru WRX STI 1:54:28 1 Open
  2. 3 Rhys Millen / Chrissy Beavis Lancer Evo VII 1:57:31 2 Open
  3. 4 Tim O'Neil / Martin Headland 1 Subaru WRX 2:00:48 1 Group N

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