FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2003
Contact: Matt Cleary
Phone: (317) 722-1838
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE. Georgia -- In round three of nine rounds in the SCCA ProRally Championship, Air Force Reserve Rally Car driver Tim O'Neil, finished second place in the SCCA Open Class and second place, bringing his current point standing to third overall in the season championship.
Driving a Ford SVT Focus at the Susquehanock Trail ProRally event held this past weekend in Wellsboro, Pa., O'Neil's second place win puts him behind David Higgins to move up into third place in the season championship standings. The result is the best finish of the season for the Air Force Reserve Rally Car and O'Neil's best finish since returning to full-time racing last season. The rally, which has a history of high attrition, proved difficult once again, taking out a high percentage of racers in the course of the three-day event. O'Neil proved up to the challenge, as he kept his car damage free to finish on the podium.
Rainy conditions in advance of the event created a challenge not only for the drivers, but also too for the organizers, who were forced to cancel stage one after the rain made water crossings too dangerous.
"This rally was very challenging," said O'Neil. "It rained heavily for the week leading up to the rally, so the roads were quite wet. It was grippy enough 90 percent of the time, but it was that last 10 percent that made things interesting. You weren't sure what you were going to get as you entered braking zones and some of the corner exits, so you had to be careful."
O'Neil humbly attributed his strong result to the high rate of attrition, but believes that he is getting faster every time the Air Force Reserve Rally Car starts a rally.
"Right now, I am still working on getting comfortable in the car, and having a mistake-free rally. Every time we race, I am getting closer and closer to that, and looking forward to Pikes Peak to keep coming up to speed," said O'Neil.
In the world of SCCA ProRally, finishing the rally is ultra-important to the season-long points battle, and the result in Wellsboro means that the Air Force Reserve Rally Car will head to the next rally, at the famous Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado Springs, Colo. with a strong start to the season.
"The points are good for us to get our season going as the events become increasingly more frequent," commented O'Neil. "That's only going to help us get closer to the factory guys, since they benefit from all the running and testing that they do. You have to finish these rallies to get points, and while I think we have some speed to make up, its good to get the miles under the car, particularly when so many of the guys ran into trouble here."
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'Neil competed in the Group N Class in 2002 and has moved up to the Open Class in 2003 with the Air Force Reserve Ford SVT 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.
U.S. Air Force Reserve
HQ AIR FORCE RESERVE COMMAND RECRUITING SERVICE
1000 Corporate Pointe, Warner Robins, GA 31088
Telephone: (478) 327-0655 Fax: (478) 327-0138 DSN Prefix: 497
Release No. 09-06-03 June 9, 2003