FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2002
Contact: Tim O'Neil
Phone: (603) 823-5558
Franconia, New Hampshire -- At this year's Cherokee Trails International Rally, the US Air Force Reserve/Team O'Neil Rally School entry driven by Tim O'Neil and co-driven by Martin Headland secured 3rd place in Group N and 11th overall. Other than a one-off appearance in 2001 driving in the Production Class, this was the team's first rally in 10 years and more notably their first pace-noted rally in 12 years.
"It will take a little more time to get back to full competitiveness because of my time away from the sport, but I'm very happy with my performance and the result," said O'Neil.
The steady, consistent and incident-free drive was a major accomplishment in itself because of the demanding and technical nature of the rally that retired 33 of the 72 cars that began the event. According to O'Neil, "The biggest challenge was just to stay on the road because there wasn't a straight section throughout the whole rally! It just seemed to go from blind corner to bad turn to another bad turn and so forth."
Preparations before the next event are focused on building the car (which is essentially stock except for safety modifications, rally tires and suspension) to full Group N specification. "It should be worth a little over 2 seconds per mile," said O'Neil, "and I know I'm getting better with every stage I drive."
In addition to the SCCA ProRally Championship Events, the team will make promotional appearances at several Air Force bases around the country.