Team Trauma Rally (VW#911) has successfully completed their first Rally America campaign, winning the Group 2 Class Co-Driver Championship and finishing a close second in the driver standings in their #911 2001 Volkswagen Jetta VR6. Driver Ron Malott from New Lothrop, MI will place 2nd in the Central Division G2 Driver category while son and co-driver Paul Malott from West Lafyette, IN will place 1st in the co-driver category.

“We wouldn’t have even been close to 1st place if it wasn’t for the crazy old man behind the wheel.” said Paul, ”All he asked me to do was make sure my notes were correct. He was the one who kept it on the road.”

While suffering from mud and mechanical failure (tie-rod) at their first event at the Lake Superior Performance Rally, they quickly proved competitive, scoring 2nd in class at their second event at the Perryville Rally, and scoring 2 podium finishes at Sno*Drift Rally, their third event. They continued with podium finishes in Missouri and Minnesota all with deep Group 2 Class fields. An unplanned encounter with a tree and subsequent ‘off’ meant no points awarded for the Ojibwe Forests Rally, otherwise the team was relatively error free for the season.

“Our goal initially was simply to finish," said Ron, “But once we saw we had the pace we expected more and probably pushed ourselves little harder. We had no idea starting that we would contend for a Central Division championship.”

Says Paul’s of his biggest challenges as co-driver, “There is a certain level of trust you have to have between the driver and yourself. Driving at night in the rain with a driver with glasses who likes to go over deceptive crests saying 'who’s got the guts'... yeah.. I was just crazy enough to ride along.”

“I think Group 2 is a great class, plenty fast, talented drivers, a great variety of cars and generally the deepest fields,” added Ron. “I think most of the drivers push extra hard even though it may not show. As hard as everybody’s charging you can get into all kinds of trouble, and there are so many variables; car selection, car set-up, co-driver prep, driver skills, the road itself. All the prep work and a simple mechanical failure (or lapse in concentration) and it’s all over.”

“Our most memorable moment had to be (2011 LSPR) Arvon Tower” commented Paul. “It was our first rally going over the kicker sideways. My head cocked 90 degrees to the left, but looking straight down the road. Seeing a red Volkswagen out of the driver side window in the middle of the road. Thinking 'Oh no! We are going to roll!!!' Then landing straight and suspecting we have a flat, but we finished!”

Ron continued, “Our first season highlights have to include doing well at Sno-Drift. We were the fastest 2WD on Pike Lake (Magnum Opus) topping out at 108+ miles per hour on Arvon Tower (2012 LSPR). It’s just a great sport, tremendously challenging and we’re thrilled to be competitive!”

The team extends their thanks to Rally America, sponsors Mid-Michigan Clean Bio-Scene, Romeo Computer Company and all the additional folks who provided assistance in various forms.

“While we are all competitors, the support from the rally community and other teams has been great.” says Ron. “From Matt Bushore on putting the car together, Barret Dash at All Wheels Driven, and drivers like Greenhouse, Huebbe and Usher to name a few. They’re all good competitors and great drivers. Their cars are dialed in and they’re consistent. They run smart rallies and we’ve learned a lot from just watching them.”

The team’s 2013 schedule will include Sno-Drift, 100 Acre Wood, Magnum Opus and LSPR at a minimum and will include a full season on upgraded suspension from All Wheels Driven in Oregon.

Ron concluded, “Our goal for 2013 is simple. Finish every event and hopefully capture a class win or two. We think we have the pace and now with just a little more experience we think 2013 will be a great season!"

To learn more about Team Trauma visit their website at www.teamtraumarally.com.

Photo: Scott Rains/WorldRallySport