By David Gee

19.3 seconds. That’s not much time, and it’s even more amazing when you consider that’s what separated Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam from the overall podium in last year’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood after 130 stage miles over two days. And when they debut their all-new Lucas Oil, Wolf-LED-sponsored Streetwise Motorsports Subaru, the defending Super Production champs will be pointing towards the podium again.

“100 Acre Wood is open, it’s flowing, it’s fast, and this rally really seems to suit my style,” stated the San Francisco-based veteran driver O’Sullivan. “Scott and I have had some great results in the foothills of the Ozarks and we’re looking for another one this weekend.”

In addition to 2012’s Super Production-class winning effort that saw the pair finish 4th overall, O’Sullivan and Putnam also finished 4th overall in 2007, just a couple of minutes behind the likes of factory hotshoes Ken Block and Travis Pastrana.

“Travis is off doing his NASCAR thing full-time this year, but Ken Block will be back and it seems like he wins just about every year here,” noted Putnam.

Ahhh, it doesn’t just seem like Block wins a lot at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. He has been here six times, and won all six times.

It’s a fool’s game to make predictions when it comes to rally results. After all, there are simply too many variables with the weather, road conditions, cars, drivers, tires and on and on. Still, it’s safe to say Block will be hard to beat.

But that’s exactly what some 60 national and local teams will try to do, as they contest 129 stage miles Friday and Saturday. The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood action also includes a spectator-friendly Super Special Stage at the Lions Club Park in Potosi Friday afternoon.

“One of the things we’re always trying to think about is bringing the rally action closer to the fans,” says Putnam. “It’s cool of course when spectators come out to the forest and watch us during the stages. But when they can see the cars do these closed circuit loops, and watch the entire stage from start to finish from one spot, that kind of ratchets up the excitement I think.”

Regardless of the technical nature, or location of the stage, it doesn’t take much for O’Sullivan to get excited. The former factory driver and X Games competitor, who started co-driving in rallies with his dad as a teenager, loves to get behind the wheel.
And when he and Putnam come to the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood this week, they will be strapping into their new Lucas Oil, Wolf-LED Super Production Subaru for the first time, which carries with it another whole level of excitement!

“I will throw the car around a lot initially because I want to see where the car is happy and where it’s not happy,” stated O’Sullivan. “You’ve got to kind of push it in the first couple stages to find the sweet spots, those ‘happy places’ for the car.”

O’Sullivan says during this process he might not listen to the notes that closely at first because it’s more important to keep the car on the road and get a good feel for it. Then, he continues, the mind settles down a bit, and he can concentrate on the notes a little bit more.

“At that point, 100% of your brain capacity isn’t worried about a little hit the car took, or the suspension lightening up or getting a little cross at the same time Scott’s giving me an instruction,” O’Sullivan said. “I’m going to ask Scott to repeat himself a lot in the first couple of stages. It’s just how it happens. Luckily though I can go all day and all night and feel like I’m concentrating on the road 100%. I can’t wait to get to the starting line.”

Rally in the 100 Acre Wood www.100aw.org

2nd stop on the 2013 Rally America National Championship calendar

Day 1 – Friday, 1:30 p.m. central time
153 total miles, 51 stage miles

Day 2 – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. central time
260 total miles, 78 stage miles

TOTALS = 410 total miles, 129 stage miles