|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||April 8, 1980|
OLYMPIA, Washington -- New Zealander Rod Millen and co-driver Dave Weiman demonstrated the reliability of their new Mazda Rx-7 by convincingly winning round three of the Sports Car Club of America's PRO RallY Championship the April 6-7 "Olympus Safari Rally," near Olympia, Wash.
Second by over 12 minutes was the local team of Steve Parker and Richard Inman in an aging Datsun 510, a vast improvement from their 12th place finish at the Tour do Forest Rally only two weeks earlier. Third went to Jon Woodner and Jerry Hinkle in a Triumph TR-8.
The win moved Millen into the lead in the Championship point standings and put Mazda in a tie with Triumph for the Manufacturer's title chase.
For the first half of the 307 mile rally, Millen was locked in a tremendous duel with John Buffum who was looking for his third win in a row in his Triumph TR-8. Buffum and co-driver Doug Shepherd had edged Millen by the narrowest of margins in the first two rallies, and the Olympus Safari looked like more of the same. Buffum jumped off to a one minute lead after the Millen Mazda had some vapor lock trouble on the second stage. After that it was nip-and-tuck until stage eight. Then, said Buffum, "I must have braked at the wrong time. We got into a right hander and just couldn't quite make it."
The result was that Buffum's TR-8 ended up sitting on some logs and branches off the road. For Millen, there was then nothing to do but stay on the road for the last half of the rally, something others found exceptionally difficult. Some truly miserable weather (torrential rain which did not end until it turned to snow) and tricky roads combined with the driver error brought on by the fatigue of the long event to take their toll. Only 15 of the rally's 49 entrants were classified as finishers. Night's end found the Washington countryside was littered with PRO Rally machinery.
The first retiree was an expected top contender, Hendrik Blok blew the clutch in his Mazda GLC Rotary 100 yards from the starting line of stage one. Pieces of the clutch tore through the car rupturing a fuel regulator which allowed gasoline into the interior. The fuel ignited and for the second time this year, co-driver Rod Sorenson found himself in a flaming rally car. Four weeks ago at the 100 Acre Wood Rally at Rolla, Mo., his seat caught fire from an overheated exhaust. This time, quick work by the drivers extinguished the fire, but left the car out of the rally.
The Production Class showdown between Plymouth and Saab got hotter and closer at the Olympus Safari. Jim Olinger and Ron Richardson won the class in their Plymouth Champ. Second in Production went to the Saab 99 of Dan Wing and Mike Kirchgesner. These finishes put Olinger and Wing in a tie for first place in the Production Driver category.
The PRO Rally tour now takes a short break before resuming the Championship race at the "Northern Lights" Rally, May 2-4 in Houghton Lake, Michigan. Northern Lights represents Round Four of the twelve event PRO Rally Championship.
SCCA CONTACT: Tim Cline (203) 453-1742, T. Michael Moreland (303) 770-1044
EVENT: Olympus Safari EVENT CONDUCTED BY: Northwest Region, SCCA, LOCATION: Tumwater, Washington Puget Sound Sports Car Club DATE: April 5-6, 1980 LENGTH: 307.61 miles, 14 stages, 155.87 stage miles. ENTRANTS: 49, FINISHERS: 14 WEATHER: Wet, rain and snow. TERRAIN: Forest, Low mountains. TOP 10 FINISHERS FIN CHAMP MFG. POS. DRIVER/CO-DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR SCORE POINTS POINTS 1. Rod Millen, Santa Ana, CA Mazda RX-7 3:30.23 100 100 Dave Weiman, Federal Way, CA 100 2. Steve Parker, Redmond, WA Datsun 510 3:42.97 80 80 Richard Inman, Marysville, WA 80 3. Jon Woodner, Washington, D.C. Triumph TR-8 3:44.49 60 60 Jerry Hinkle, Columbia, MD 60 4. Jeff Vanderwal, Sorry, B.C. Datsun 510 3:44.77 50 Ken Bergen, Prince George, B.C. 50 5. Steve Roberts, Bellevue, WA Mazda RX-2 3:48.97 40 Don Gibson, Seattle, WA 40 6. Colin Whittingham, Tyler, TX Mazda RX-3 3:52.90 30 Linda Marsh, Seattle, WA 30 7. Dick Turner, Lancaster, TX International Scout 4:01.16 20 Tom Grimshaw, Lewisville, TX 20 8. Jim Olinger, Sacramento, CA Plymouth Champ 4:06.54 19 Ron Richardson, Sacramento, CA 19 9. Dan Wing, Bellingham, WA Saab 99 4:08.75 18 Mike Kirchgesner, Everett, WA 18 10. Ken White, Fremont, CA Datsun 510 4:13.21 17 Gene Kaczmarek, Fremont, CA 17 PRODUCTION CLASS WINNERS 1.(8) Jim Olinger, Sacramento, CA Plymouth Champ 4:06.54 100 Ron Richardson, Sacramento, CA 100 2.(9) Dan Wing, Bellingham, WA Saab 99 4:08.75 80 Mike Kirchgesner, Everett, WA 80 3.(13) Al Perez, Pleasant Grove, UT Plymouth Arrow 4:20.93 60 Doug Montgomery, Calgary,Alberta 60 STANDINGS AFTER THREE EVENTS DRIVER PRODUCTION DRIVER 1. Rod Millen 260 1. Jim Olinger 160 2. John Buffum 200 Dan Wing 160 3. Jon Woodner 120 2. George Beckerman 100 4. Steve Roberts 90 Bill Brooks 100 5. Dick Turner 80 Jon Davis 80 CO-DRIVER PRODUCTION CO-DRIVER 1. Doug Shepherd 200 1. Ron Richardson 160 2. Dave Weiman 180 2. Doris Beckerman 100 3. Don Gibson 90 Bill Banger 100 4. John Grimshaw 80 4. Mike Kirchgesner 80 Tom Grimshaw 80 Harry Ward 80 MANUFACTURER PRODUCTION MANUFACTURER 1. Mazda 260 1. Saab 260 2. Triumph 260 2. Plymouth 200 3. Datsun 120 3. Dodge 100 4. International Scout 60 5. AMC Jeep 50