Rally America announces 2006 season

The premiere national rally series in the United States has grown to nine events, with two new additions. The 2006 Rally America calendar will include Missouri’s 100 Acre Wood early in the year and Nevada’s Reno Rally will close the series, extending the season into December.

The 100 Acre Wood rally now stands as the second event of the year, taking place in February as early spring ripples through the Ozark foothills of Missouri. “The roads at this event are fantastic,” says Rally America spokesman J.B. Niday.

Series organizers says they were looking to add a race to close a long gap between races at the beginning of the season and this flagship regional rally was an obvious choice. Previously, there were nearly four months between the winter season opener in Michigan, Sno*Drift, and the next event, Oregon Trail.

The other welcome addition to the series is the Reno Rally, which takes place on the high desert roads of Nevada in early December. “Reno is one of those events that has been just sitting there waiting to happen for several years,” Niday says.

The championship will also bid farewell to Pikes Peak, an event that hasn’t been a good fit with the rally series. Organizers working with the famed hill climb have tried to expand the event into rally with the addition of traditional stage miles, but it has not been a success. “Pikes Peak just isn’t a rally. Period,” says Niday. “The truth of the matter is all any of us really want to do is drive up the mountain.”

Although the hill climb won’t count for points in the series, Niday says he expects some rally competitors will continue to take on the challenge.

2006 Rally America Championship:

  • Sno*Drift: January 27-28
  • 100 Acre Wood: February 24-25
  • Oregon Trail: April 21-23
  • Susquehannock Trail Rally: June 3
  • Maine Forest Rally: July 28-29
  • Ojibwe Forests Rally: August 25-26
  • Colorado Cog: September 23-24
  • Lake Superior Rally: October 20-21
  • Reno Rally: December 1-2

Axles are consumable items

I blew up an axle at Union Rallycross this past weekend. Chalk one up for a learning experience—axles are consumable items. I did a conservative ~3000 RPM launch, heard a nasty pop followed by grinding, and limped the Trunkmonkey Pink Impreza halfway through the course and back to service. After initially thinking the problem was with the clutch or rear diff we quickly found a twisted CV boot on the driver rear that made it obvious that the CV joint had shredded.

After a few hours of fighting with frozen bolts and removing the DMS 50 and lateral links we got the axle out, counted the splines, and raided Dave Getchell’s service truck for a spare. About an hour later the car was reassembled and back out on course for afternoon runs and came back to compete on the second day. I’m just glad the axle blew up at a $50 Rallycross and not on SS2 at an $800 ProRally.

Many thanks to the dozen or so guys who stepped up to the plate to help get the car back up and running!

Trunkmonkey Racing at Union Rallycross

This weekend Trunkmonkey Racing will be running at Union Rallycross, a two-day event at Union Fairgrounds in Maine. We’ll be heading up Friday evening to help with logistics and to set up the course, running for championship points on Saturday, and then running shakedown on Sunday. Hopefully the gorgeous weather will hold its course and we’ll get a few crisp sunny days before Hurricane Wilma moves in.

WRC rally news

Next year is looking pretty interesting. The short of what is going on with the WRC:

Some logistic issues for the event in two weeks. Cars may be let into Corsica but not back out again. Guess there is a problem with the ferry workers. This is a serious enough problem that the event could be canceled as the next event is in Spain the following weekend. A delay getting off the island could cause major problems as Corsica & Spain are tied together via the “engines must be used for two events” rule.

FIA is trying *really* hard to screw up rally as we know it. The 5 minute rule now applies to the last day so you don’t have to actually finish a rally receive points. There is also talk of changing the 5 minute rule to the 10 minute rule as its mathematically possible (and leverage once by Citroen with Duval) to gain better points by leaving the rally. Not a lot of support for changing it to 10 minutes at this time.

Ford has signed Gronholm as a driver for 06 & 07. Sure the new RS is suppose to be a killer car, but its still an untested ride. Doesn’t Gronholm remember what he went through with Peugeot last year??? Wondering if the guy enjoys the abuse. 😉

Speaking for Ford, they have requested a rule change to have all events end in a super special where the outcome will have a greater impact on the final finish order. In other words, a driver that wins the event could end up in second if someone beats them in the final super special. Huhhh??? they claim its to get better TV coverage of events, but I’m guessing it has more to do with the fact that Ford is sucking wind in the last half of this season and they know the super specials are Loeb’s only real weak spot.

Speaking of Loeb, he is still not signed for 06. He is hoping to get a private ride through Citroen, and that the manufacturer will officially return in 07. This could be a problem as the FIA is banning certain drivers (like Loeb) from driving old style rally cars in 06 as the old cars will be faster than the new spec models. From what I hear Citroen still does not have parent company approval to return in 07, so who knows what will happen at this point. Would be kind of interesting if a privateer grabbed the driver’s title.

Martin is out of the WRC for the rest of the season. Rumor mill is that he is no longer trying to find a ride for 06, so he may be out of rally completely. Can’t say I blame him in the least.