Press Release

May 5, 2003
Contact: Matt Cleary
Phone: (317) 722-1838

Team Air Force Reserve Scores 5th Place Overall In Rim of the World Rally

May 2-3 Rim of the World
Round 2 of 9 round in SCCA ProRally Championship
Finish:5th Place Overall, 5th In Open Class

Palmdale, California -- Team Air Force Reserve took fifth place overall in the Rim of the World Rally after overcoming significant challenges during the rally, from the rainy and conditions on the course to mechanical setbacks including problems with the alternator and ECU. The rally was shortened after the heavy precipitation made the stages nearly impassable. The finish is the first of the season for Team Air Force Reserve, who crashed out of the season-opening SnoDrift Rally in January after having set very fast times in the opening stages. Driver Tim O'Neil and navigator Alex Gelsomino were happy with the finish, as it gives the team ten championship points towards the season-long overall championship.

After the Engine Control Unit on the Ford Focus burnt out before the rally began, Team Air Force Reserve had to scramble to track down the correct part from Maine and have the unit reprogrammed to even get started in the rally. The last minute repairs got the car rolling, but the Focus was not entirely fixed for the rally, providing O誰eil with another set of challenges beyond the stages themselves and the competitors in the Open Class, the fastest class in SCCA ProRally competition.

"My intention for this race was primarily to get to the finish, and I知 happy we were able to do that, particularly given all the challenges we had this weekend," said O誰eil. " We were fortunate to even get started after the ECU blew out before the rally even began, and we have to thank some of our competitors for helping us track down the parts we needed to get going. This is a very competitive sport, but no one wants to win in the garage, and we appreciated the help."

The electronic issues with the car were compounded by the conditions of the rally with rains creating a very humid cockpit, and reducing the vision available to O誰eil.

"The conditions were difficult, and in the early stages, I could not see much, as the electrical problems we had meant that our windshield was fogged up a lot of the time, keeping me from going too fast," said O誰eil. "There were some electronic issues with the engine management as well, so we never really were running full power in the Focus, so while that hurt us here, its only encouraging for the next rally. Once we get these teething problems sorted out, and I get myself completely up to speed in the Focus, I think we will be very competitive."

The SCCA ProRally Championship is a flat-out race over closed sections of rural roads by modified production automobiles, with each car racing against the clock rather than directly against each other. O誰eil Racing competed in the Group N Class in 2002 and has moved up to the Open Class in 2003 with the Team Air Force Reserve Ford Focus.

Tim O'Neil is a winner of five U.S. and North American Rally championships. Tim first got his hands dirty operating and repairing equipment for his family's logging business in Whitefield, New Hampshire. He began rallying in 1986 and formed Team O'Neil Motorsport in 1989 and was quickly competitive, winning six of the first eight SCCA National Pro Rally Championship Events. He then became the first American in years to compete in Finland's 1000 Lakes Rally, a World Rally Championship Event.

Between 1993 and 1997, Tim worked with a number of major automotive manufacturers to teach advanced driving techniques and introduce new products. In 1997, Tim opened the Team O'Neil Rally School and Car Control Center in Franconia, New Hampshire to teach rally and winter driving techniques. Tim leads every class and is supported by a group of instructors whose varied backgrounds serve to complement the learning experience.

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