Last Ditch Racing takes podium at 100 Acre Wood Regional Rally
The 100 Acre Wood Rally, round 2 of the Rally America 2010 National Championship, also comprised the Regional Rally Championship. As 2009 Eastern Region Open Class Champions, the team had come down to race again other regional champions in an attempt to take overall honors. The woods of Missouri had other plans for the team, however.
Friday's event was eventful, but not in a positive way. A slight off early on SS2 rattled Cassidy and Co-driver Adam Kneiip, and then halfway through the stage the team's exhaust manifold on their 2003 Subaru STi fractured, causing hot exhaust gases to blow onto components in the engine compartment. "In addition to not having any power due to lack of boost, we started to see smoke and smell burning rubber," said driver John Cassidy. "We were forced to make the decision to retire from Friday's event in order to save the car and ensure we'd be able to compete in Saturday's event."
Friday night saw the crew of fellow competitor Dillon Van Way weld up the team's header. As it was the second such failure in the same manifold in a couple of weeks, the team did not trust that it would hold and looked for an alternative. A local media person and Subaru enthusiast soon heard that the team was searching for a manifold and met the team at their hotel with the replacement. New part in hand, the crew replaced it in the early hours of the Saturday morning and the team were ready for Saturday's stages.
Morning came with the crew feeling fresh and confident in the car. The first stage saw Cassidy and co-driver Adam Kneiip continue to acclimate to each other's styles. At a low water bridge on the second stage, a slip joint in the exhaust system separated, creating worry in the car that they had another serious exhaust system failure. "Even with our noise canceling intercom, it was incredibly loud and I thought we had another hole on our hands. Driving a bit further on, I realized that, despite the noise, we still had full power and all systems were go."
Saturday saw the team chasing fellow Open Class crews of Henry/Cindy Krowlikowski in their ex-Prodrive Subaru and Chris Gilligan/Joe Peterson in their EVO 4. Said Cassidy, "I wish we could have pushed Henry and Chris a bit more, but we did all we could with the car we had. We'll continue to work hard to increase the performance of the car on our next outing!"
The 100 Acre Wood Rally saw Colorado co-driver Adam Kneipp sit with Cassidy for the first time. "It was obvious from the first time that we talked over the phone that Adam is meticulous and goal oriented. Adam slotted into the car and team seamlessly. We had a great weekend overall and perhaps we'll be able to get him back into the car later in the season."
The Last Ditch Racing crew were highly regarded in the service area at the event, and Cassidy/Kneipp want to thank them publicly. Drew Simpson, Zachary Sennett and Drew Gladu swarmed on the car each service and worked into the morning hours making sure that everything was perfect for Cassidy/Kneipp. "This event saw the crew really coalesce. I was amazed by the ownership and assertiveness the lads showed this weekend. Their strong work allowed Adam and I to maintain our focus on the race and developing our relationship within the car. Our helmets' are off to them!," said Cassidy.
Last Ditch Racing would also like to thank the Organizers for a fantastic event, as well as the fans/residents of Salem and Rolla, Missouri and all the towns the event travelled through. "The people of Missouri are some of the friendliest folks we've met in rallying and we felt right at home in Missouri. Maine feels a bit like Missouri, but without the awesome BBQ!"
2010 sees LDR with several new partners. LDR has partnered with VP Racing Fuels in the Northeast to run the new 109e race fuel. "We've run VP in the past, but rule changes meant we had to switch to another brand. Now that VP has come out with a newly formulated fuel, we're able to use our preferred brand. We'll soon be remapping our ECU to take advantage of the new fuel." Kartboy products, maker of short shifters, shift knobs, swaybar links and other performance oriented parts is also stepping up support this season. "We've run Kartboy decals on the car in the past, but now they're bigger! Kartboy makes products in the USA that are second-to-none in quality and performance. We'd only consider Kartboy for our mission critical suspension and driver interface parts."
Luke Dobie, of Luke Dobie Designs worked with California graphic artist Craig Woida to create a graphic design for Cassidy's Peltor helmet for 2010. "Luke has been doing custom paint at the pro level for some time. When he approached me about putting custom paint on my helmet, I jumped at the chance. Between he, Craig and I, we came with a design in short order and Luke made it happen incredibly quickly, even hand delivering the helmet to me here in Maine." Openpaddock.net is an online motorsport news clearinghouse and community. LDR has partnered with Openpaddock for 2010 to help share some insight with fans into what it takes to field a rally team. Cassidy has appeared as a guest on two Openpaddock podcasts to discuss rallying in the US as well as share his thoughts on the WRC as a rally fan and driver.