The 2011 Rally America Central Region Group 2 points race tightened up again this weekend with three competitors swapping times- and podium spots during the 2 day event in Salem, MO.
Day 1- Trespassers Wil Regional Rally
The Trespassers Wil event started with less than half a second separating Chris Greenhouse, Billy Mann, and Matt Bushore on the rutted mud of the Potosi Lions Club stage, with each driver sneaking in under the minute mark for the stage.
Greenhouse and co-driver Brian Johnson found their pace quickly on the fast and smooth roads that make up the specialstages of the Ozark Mountains, opening up an 8 second lead over Bushore and brother Andrew Bushore, and besting Mann and co-driver Don Burress by 22 seconds over the 10 mile stage with a stage time of 9:21.3
Greenhouse found another 2 seconds on the second running of the crater pocked Superspecial, with Mann slipping back another 4 seconds against the class leader in the second outing of his newly completed Honda Civic.
A delay as stage crews worked to move the mangled shell of Travis Pastrana's STI left the teams concerned about their lack of driving lights, however, the stage opened for competition just as twilight was falling. Billy Mann continued to build pace on this running, with both Bushore and Greenhouse falling off their previous marks, with Greenhouse edging Bushore by under 2 seconds.
Knowing that the 11 second gap would be difficult to close, Bushore had even more work ahead with the cancellation of SS5 due to flood waters on the transit, leaving only SS6 to try to close the gap to first place. Mann, comfortably in 3rd place with a 2 minute gap over the 4th place team of Ian Topping and Jeff Secor, stood to benefit from any mistakes made by pushing on the final stage of the evening with only a 20 second gap to 2nd place.
The final stage of the evening started significantly tighter than the previous stages before opening up to finish fast over numerous jumps, requiring a change in pace and driving style that left the Bushore team struggling, while Greenhouse adapted quickly, securing the stage win, and ultimately, first place in class for the day. Mann completed the stage briskly, earning a 3rd place podium spot.
Day 2- 100 Acre Wood Regional Rally
The scheduled 80 stage miles of day two's 100 Acre Wood regional rally met the competitors early with a Parc Expose in downtown Salem. Following the restart, Bushore was scheduled to follow Greenhouse on the road, with Mann separated by only a few cars.
The 10.85 mile Southern Loop opened the event with an abundance of water crossings, leaving several teams to struggle with rough running engines leaving the deep low water bridge 4 miles from the stage finish. An aggressive approach to the water with a car proven to handle deep water better than most put Bushore up 10 seconds over Greenhouse, with Mann nearly 35 seconds off the class winning stage time.
The second running of the Southern Loop was pulled due to an incident with the team of Lagermann and Beavis; the announcement to hold came over the radio with only 10 seconds remaining before the stage start for Bushore, Greenhouse having left one minute earlier. All teams would receive the same time for the stage.
Using the 7.3 mile SS9 to exact his revenge, Greenhouse won the stage, beating Bushore by 6 seconds and Mann by over 25 seconds, and closing his gap to first place to a mere 4 seconds.
Greenhouse gained another second in his first place quest on the third running of the Superspecial, but Billy Mann struck back on the third running of the Floyd Tower roads of SS11, besting both Bushore and Greenhouse, and winning the extraordinarily fast stage with a 9:23.
Mann again clawed back with a 5 second margin on the SS12 class win, while the trio finished the short sprint through SS13 with a margin of less than 2 seconds between Bushore, Greenhouse and Mann.
The gap between first and second remained at a mere 9 seconds with 3 competitive stages left in the evening.
That gap increased to almost 14 seconds after SS14- another long, faster 10.45 mile stage that saw the Volkswagen edge out the Neon by less than 1 second per mile.
SS15, a short twisty 4.2 miler would see the door start to close on Greenhouse's hopes for another first place in the regional as Bushore gained another 7 seconds, with Bill Mann scoring a 2nd in class on the stage.
The event closing 10.1 mile stage would prove another tight race- with less than 5 seconds separating the winning stage time from 3rd place- but not without drama.
A noting error on the final corner of the last stage almost led to total destruction when Co-driver Andrew Bushore called the medium turn before the flying finish as one to enter full throttle. The Jetta narrowly missed a row of trees on the side of the road, leaving the team shaken on the transit back to Salem to discover they had won the days contest, as well as the inaugural Honey Jar Challenge.
Billy Mann picked up 3rd in class for the second time in the weekend, moving him into 3rd in the points race with 132 points. Matt Bushore, placing first in the C3 event, saw a big jump to 216 points and 2nd place after the weekend, with Chris Greenhouse narrowly retaining his leading points position at 235 points.