2018 Waste Management Winter RallySprint Gets Late Boost from Overnight Freeze as Potential Mudfest Becomes Exciting Ice Rally in Windy, Cold Conditions in Duncan Township
Wellsboro, Penn. – February 18 — For the 2018 Waste Management Winter RallySprint (WMWR), the prayers for a last-minute weekend freeze to eliminate the muddy conditions were answered as ten competition rally cars from five states battled through six stages for this year’s event.
This year’s overall winners were Matthew Chmielewski, from Harvey’s Lake, Penn., and co-driver Pete Sandy, from Moosic, Penn., in their Subaru Impreza, as they scored a three-minute win over the field despite losing all, but third gear late in the event. Second, but first in the R2U class, were last year’s winner, Josh Hickey, from Burke, Virginia, and Jim Spoth, from Federick, Maryland in their BMW 318i.
The other class winners, in the R4U class, were Brian Basttocchi, from Sterling, Virginia, and his co-driver Neil Shafer, from Springfield, Virginia, in a Subaru Impreza.
For the spectators who braved the wind chill temperatures in the teens at Waste Management, the traditional STPR “jump” was replaced with a chicane crafted with hay bales as SCCA RallySprint rules – designed for up-and-coming rallyists – stipulate that no jumps are allowed. This made for interesting driving strategy to go as fast as you can, but avoiding contact with the hay bales.
Eight of the ten starters finished the event, but many of the finishers needed various vehicle repairs resulting from mechanical ills to body damage suffered during the slick and cold running of the rallysprint.
This closed course rally was run on Waste Management property in Duncan Township, the same as it has been since 2011. It consists of one stage road run six times or 44 stage miles with a total distance of just over 56 miles, including transit and stage miles. That same area will be used as part of the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally’s stages on June 1 and 2 this summer.
One of the main purposes of a February rally is to give aspiring rally drivers a chance to learn how to control their rally cars at speed in the snow and ice.
According to Rallysprint chair Dave Avery, while the rules and classes are similar to what spectators are used to from the former Waste Management Winter Rally, the recent affiliation with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) adds additional safety and structure, and makes the event part of a national series – not unlike a AA or AAA minor league baseball league, giving experience to competitors and workers alike. For the competitors, the class rules require minimum modifications – helping to keep costs down – and, best of all, much-reduced entry fees because of the large insurance pool provided by the more than 67,000 SCCA members nationally.
Stephen Hyatt, SCCA National RallyCross chair, agrees with Avery, and is pleased with the progress the nationwide activity has yield in just its third year of existence.
“The SCCA RallyCross program has seen slow steady growth since we brought it out. We are looking at growth in under-served areas and with RallyCross’ sponsor DirtFish (a rally instructional facility in Washington State), we hope to cross-market into the stage rally to offer test and tunes or training for their competitors,” Hyatt said.