From our Friends at Rally-America.com Thursday, February 2, 2012
The son and father duo of Travis Hanson from Littleton, NH and Terry Hanson from Williamsburg, MI made Rally America history winning last year’s Sno*Drift Rally in a Super Production (SP) Class car. That was the first time an SP car had won an overall event in the Rally America National Championship series. It was a feat accomplished with a lot of skill and a little luck as the more powerful Open Class cars of the Subaru Rally Team USA and Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team failed to finish, leaving the top spot to Travis and Terry Hanson. They finished the event with a 3 minute and 53.1 second lead over the next closest competitor.
This year, Travis and Terry Hanson made SP headlines again in their attempt to defend their 2011 Sno*Drift Rally crown. The Hansons were locked in an intense battle for the third-place-overall spot with a new Rally America contender, Leonid Urlichich, driving an Open Class Subaru WRX STI. Known as “Crazy Leo” to fans, Urlichich is a regular contender in the Canadian Rally Championship and made his American debut at this year’s Sno*Drift Rally.
Both teams traded positions and times. At one point Travis Hanson had physically passed “Crazy Leo” on stage before Urlichich overtook Hanson with better stage times and finished third overall in the standings. Ulrichich’s car, however, failed post-rally inspection and was penalized three positions to finish sixth overall. Urlichich protested the Steward’s decision and the Sno*Drift overall results will remain provisional pending the outcome of the protest.
Before Sno*Drift began the Hansons weren’t even sure if their engine would survive.
“I left New Hampshire with a good car, but was really bummed when I got to Michigan and the engine acted up,” said Travis Hanson.
The team decided to run Sno*Drift anyway, despite the engine’s loud groaning that kept reminding them the engine could quit at any time. Amazingly, the team won 22 consecutive stages in their class, finished third overall (assuming the results stand up against Urlichich’s protest) and first in Super Production.
“The engine was louder than the exhaust by the end of the rally,” said Travis Hanson, “I didn’t think it was going to last, but somewhere along the lines I started thinking we had a chance to finish! We were pretty happy with the result.”
Super Production cars have frequently appeared on the podium since its 2009 inception and has increasingly threatened Open Class dominance over the top spot as more talented drivers join the class.
One such driver is ex-factory team driver, Lauchlin O’Sullivan from San Francisco, CA, who used to drive for the Mitsubishi Rally team during the SCCA ProRally days. Today, he is a Super Production competitor and entered this year’s Sno*Drift Rally in a 2003 Mitsubishi EVO. It was the first time he piloted the Mitsubishi and on top of that, he had to race on some of the slipperiest conditions anyone has ever seen. O’Sullivan made it to the end and took 2nd in class despite being unfamiliar with the car.
The depth of the Super Production Class was also shown with the entrance of 2001 Belgium Rally Champ, David Steryckx from Santa Ana, CA, who experienced a similar situation as O’Sullivan at Sno*Drift. Steryckx built an SP 2011 Subaru WRS STI to contend the entire 2012 Rally America National Championship and drove it for the first time on ice. In fact, Sno*Drift was the very first snow event in which he has ever competed, and the team is very proud of their 3rd place class finish.
PMR Motorsports, Patrick Moro and Timothy Rooney, both from Dublin, OH, returned to the Super Production class after taking the 2011 season off. In first event back Moro placed a respectable 4th in Class and 9th overall in the standings.
“Stage rally is always where I wanted to be,” said Moro, “Good to be back at an event where everyone is helping each other out. It’s good people and good fun.”
Moro’s teammate, Timothy Rooney, wasn’t as lucky and retired from the race after they got stuck in the snow on stage 8. Rooney decided to withdraw to save the car from any more damage.
Exedy Racing’s Evan Cline from Brighton, MI, another perennial Super Production driver, placed 10th overall making him the 5th SP team to possess one of the top coveted 10 spots!
Get the complete Sno*Drift results at rally-america.com/events/2012/SNODRIFT/results/.And you can find more Sno*Drift Rally videos and photographs at www.rally-america.com/events/2012/SNODRIFT/gallery/.
Round 2 of the 2012 Rally America National Championship will take place at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood on February 24-25th in Salem, MO. Rally America will again be live streaming this exciting event on Rally-America.com.
The 2012 Rally America National Championship is proudly supported by VP Racing Fuels - the Official Fuel of Rally America, Exedy Racing Clutches, Hawk Performance Brakes, ParkNBlend and RECARO seats.