Press Release
August 31, 1998, Tigard, Oregon

Contact Tamara Shadbolt.
(503) 624-6366


Hairpin Racing Finishes Fifth in Minnesota

Bemidji, MN. The fifth full national event of the Michelin PRO Rally Championship found the Hairpin Racing Team of driver Lee Shadbolt and co-driver Paul Eklund finishing fifth in class and maintaining a four point lead in the Production GT (PGT) Championship.

The evening before the PRO Rally started, the local car club hosted a charity Rallycross at the Bemidji Speedway. A torrential downpour an hour before the event left the surface slippery and muddy. The course was moved up onto the banked curves of the 1/4 mile dirt oval, but remained extremely slick. Shadbolt and Eklund took turns driving the Subaru Impreza around the 50 second course. Both faired well with co-driver Eklund posting a slightly faster time than regular driver Shadbolt. The fastest PGT time was set by Steve Gingras in an Eagle Talon.

The Ojibwe Forests PRO Rally began Friday night with 35 national competitors, including nine in PGT. Only 6 of the PGT cars finished, mimicking the high attrition rate not usually associated with this rally. By the end of the first night, Gingras had established the lead. The Hairpin Racing Team was sitting in 5th place, a position they would hold on day two after an additional 230 miles and 12 stages. The higher horsepower cars had a distinct advantage on the sandy and often straight roads where bursts of over 100 mph were not uncommon.

The overall favorite to win the Rally was Open class driver Paul Choinere in the 370 horsepower Hyundai Tiburon all-wheel-drive. An alternator belt failure early on the first stage put him out of the race. Ultimately, veteran rally champion John Buffum won the event in a Hyundai Elantra.

The higher speeds did catch up with some teams. PGT competitor Tom Ottey put his turbocharged Mazda 323 off the road on stage 3 following an incredibly quick time on the first stage. Moments later, Ken Stewart clipped a tree with the rear tire of his supercharged Chevy S-10 pickup. The impact sheared off the wheel and destroyed the rear suspension leaving him sideways in the middle of the road. As the next competitor, PGT driver Gail Truess, rounded the corner in her "Tangerine Dream" Mazda 323, Stewart was able to limp the truck to a wide spot in the road. Gail never slowed and finished fourth place in class, ahead of Hairpin Racing.

The daylight on Saturday was not without incident as Group 5 driver Ralph Kosmides and co-driver Joe Noyes slid off the road in their twin-turbo Toyota Supra after the flying finish. The clock had stopped, but the team was stuck in a ditch. As Noyes set up safety triangles and Kosmides hooked up a tow strap, PGT competitor Chris Czyzio slid around the corner pitching his Mitsubishi Eclipse back and forth as he slid towards the stranded Supra. But Czyzio managed to avoid contact and continued to a third place PGT finish for the event.

Shadbolt remains the leader for the PGT National Championship with a 4 point lead over 1997 Production GT Champion Gingras. With two events remaining in the series, the battle rages for the title. The Ojibwe Forests PRO Rally will be televised on espn2 in late September. The Maine Forests PRO Rally will air on Tuesday, September 8, at 3:30pm PST and again on September 9, at 12:30am PST.

The next race will be the Prescott Forest PRO Rally on October 2-3. Look for the Hairpin Racing Impreza to do well in the extreme heat and rough roads of the Arizona desert. This event may secure the Production GT Championship for the team.

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