SCCA has issued an official press release regarding the accident:
HILLSBORO, Ore. (July 12, 2003) – Subaru Rally Team USA superstars Mark Lovell, 43, and Roger Freeman, 52, both of England, were fatally injured Saturday during the first special stage of the Oregon Trail SCCA ProRally event.
The first car away from the starting line, driver Lovell, and co-driver Freeman, left the prescribed course moments into the stage and struck a tree in their Subaru Impreza WRX. The two were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical personnel. Details of the incident were held until the families were notified.
“This is a tragic day for the world of rallying and motorsports in general, “said Steve Johnson, SCCA President and CEO, who was in attendance at the event. “Mark Lovell and Roger Freeman were among the best crews in the world, but they were also great competitors as well. Our prayers go out to their families, Subaru Rally Team USA and all of their friends and supporters.”
The duo who had been rallying together for twenty years were competingin their third event together of 2003. They entered the Oregon Trail fresh from success winning the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb of June 27. The 2001 Overall Drivers Champion, Lovell is survived by his wife, Julia, and his children Oliver and Thomas. Roger Freeman is survived by his wife, Alison, and children Becky and John.
A decision was made to finish Day One of the rally while information regarding the accident was gathered and after rally organizershad consulted with SCCA national staff, national safety stewardsand at the request of Subaru Rally Team USA Manager and close personal friend of Lovell and Freeman, David Campion. The field then ran an abbreviated schedule of stages later in the day. The rally will continue with the completion of the final six stages on Sunday as scheduled.
No names have been mentioned, but it’s fairly safe to assume this is Mark and Roger. I really have no idea how to feel about this.
The Associated Press
7/12/2003, 7:45 p.m. PT
HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) â€” Two men participating in an Oregon Trail Road Rally event died Saturday morning when their car struck a tree, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.
The accident occurred at 10:53 a.m. on a gravel road in Washington County maintained by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The victims were the first to drive the course and had apparently gone about nine-tenths of a mile when they lost control and struck a tree, sheriff’s deputies said. The car went airborne and settled in a ditch on the other side of the road.
The speed of the vehicle on impact could have ranged from 80 to 130 mph but investigators had not determined the exact speed.
Both victims were from England and were members of the pro-rally circuit. They were wearing helmets and all standard safety gear, deputies said.
The identities of the victims were not released pending notification of their families.
Much like certain aircraft, rally cars carry black boxes, which record engine information. Investigators recovered the vehicle’s black box and were examining it.
Members of the Oregon State Police and the Washington County Interagency Crash Analysis and Reconstruction Team were assisting in the investigation.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Subaru driver Mark Lovell and co-driver Roger Freeman was involved in a fatal accident during stage one of the Oregon Trail ProRally. I usually leave the motorsports postings to Trunkmonkey.com but, if this is true, it will effect me greatly. This will be the second fatal accident in less than two months involving drivers that I know personally. I’m trying to hold myself together until SCCA confirms the rumors that have been floating around.
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