Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Pastrana and Higgins Ready to Attack the 2017 Climb to the Clouds

This is where fate is decided -- 6,288 feet above sea level. Home of the world's worst weather. And one of the nation's oldest motor sport events. New Hampshire, and the legendary Mount Washington Auto Road where 7.4 miles of narrow, death-defying tarmac and dirt cling to the mountain's slopes.

For over 100 years, the Climb to the Clouds race has seen heroes attempt to shatter old records. Today's benchmark to beat is 6 minutes 11 seconds...

With an all-star cast of past and current record holders ready to push the bar one more time, including Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Travis Pastrana, the seventy-car field is primed. Will a new record be set, or will the field fall short?

Produced by Formula Photographic Inc.

Citroen WRC Team Princable confirms issues with the latest WRC C3

Citroen C3

Citroen moves forward with  Norwegian driver Andreas Michelson replaceing Irish driver Kris Meeke in its line-up for this week’s Orlen 74th Rally Poland (29 June - 2 July). Meeke was dropped after rolling out of the lead in Italy earlier this month, the culmination of an accident-strewn series of rallies.
Mikkelsen spearheaded a four-day test in Poland immediately after the Italian encounter and Citroën has since submitted technical upgrades to the FIA

With the addition of Andreas Michelson to the Citroen WRC crew, team principle Yves Matton  confirm that two important upgrades have been homologated for the troubled Citroen C3 WRC design, which further confirm that Meeke and Nagle were out in a less than perfect car..  
These are new rear differential specification and a system designed to modify the torque split between the axles.  
Due to a delay in sourcing the new components, only Mikkelsen’s car will be fitted with these new parts in time for Rally Poland.  
Yves Matton, Citroen Racing’s Team Principal said: “Our season moves into a new phase at Rally Poland.  We needed to take a step back to note that some of the risks we had taken during development of the C3 WRC were not paying off.  
“Our car is unquestionably fast, but the window in which it works efficiently was proving too narrow.  We have therefore begun making some major changes to our organisation, our methods and our principles.
“The first of these was the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen, who encouraged us to explore some new ideas. After his first proper test session in the C3 WRC, we have introduced some upgrades that supplement the work done over the last few months.
“With a more versatile car, our drivers will be able to aim for the kind of results that match Citroën’s high expectations.”   
Understanding Matton’s comments about ‘changes in organisation’ leads to questions about the future position for Kris Meeke in the team, though his drive on the ensuing WRC event in Finland has been assured.
Not much has changed with the WRC Citroen Team since the Colin McRae days, they seem to quickly turn their back to drivers that give it their all in a less than perfect product.
 Despite their new love affair with Mikkelsen, there is no question! that the French team want a French driver in the car, Ogier is undoubted successor to Sébastien Loeb’s throne, especially now that Ogier has already started talks regarding his contract with M-SPORT demanding Ford's commitment to WRC for him to stray with the team. I am sure that Citroen will all out this time to secure Ogier.


HELL NORWAY, JUNE  2017: This past weekend saw Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block and Andreas Bakkerud return to Hell, Norway, for Round 6 of the 2017 World Rallycross Championship. Hell is where Block made his World RX debut in 2014 (an event which he took 3rd overall) and is Andreas’ home event (which he won last season with a full sweep).
This year saw the duo return with their Ford Focus RS RX rallycross cars and demonstrate their fastest pace of the season thus far. Both drivers had a solid outing during Saturday’s Q1 and Q2 races with Bakkerud winning his Q2 race. The pair ended the day sitting 2nd (Bakkerud) and 10th (Block) overall heading into Sunday’s racing. 
Sunday saw Bakkerud win both his Q3 and Q4 races, with Block also having successful results. After four rounds of Qualifying races, the two found themselves sitting 1st overall (Bakkerud) and 6th overall (Block) heading into their respective Semi Finals, a best-ever result after the Qualifier races for Hoonigan Racing Division.
Bakkerud continued his hot streak for Sunday, winning his Semi Final and earning P1 on the starting grid of the Final. Block unfortunately narrowly missed making the Final, despite having an epic pass during the last lap of his Semi Final against Renis Nittis in a move up into 4th.
The Final saw Bakkerud first off the line (earning him the Monster Energy Super Charge award, a trophy given out to the driver with the fastest reaction time off of the starting line in the Final) and leading after Lap 1. However he lost the lead during Lap 2 and finished out the next five laps where he’d finish the event: 2nd overall.
“I’m really happy to be back on the podium here at home in Norway,” said Bakkerud. “It’s been a tough season for us so far and I’m very glad that I was able to find good pace with the car here at my home event. I was really hoping I’d be able to repeat my win from last year, but Johan [Kristoffersson] just barely got ahead of me with his second lap Joker and that was that. Overall I’m happy though, it’s always great to be on the podium in Norway with all of my Bakkerud Blue fans and I’m stoked for our team, the boys have put in a lot of work to help us be fast this weekend, we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The next round of action for both of the HRD drivers will be in Sweden  for Round 7 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.


Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, NH for the past 30 years and a key figure in bringing back the Climb to the Clouds in 1990, will be honored as Grand Marshal of the 2017 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb July 7-9, 2017.  Pictured from left to right: Paul Giblin Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, Howie Wemyss,

General Manager at Mt Washington Summit Road, David Higgins, Subaru Rally Team USA, Rob Weir Motorsports Marketing Manager, Subaru of America. Photo: Neil McDaid / RallyWorldNews

Lincoln, NH - Officials with the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire, organizers of the 2017 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb planned for July 6-9, 2017 at the Mt. Washington Auto Road in Gorham, NH, are proud to announce that Howie Wemyss, General Manager of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, has accepted an invitation to serve as the Grand Marshal of this year’s Climb to the Clouds.

Wemyss has served as General Manager of the oldest man-made attraction in the United States since 1987 and was instrumental in bringing the Mt. Washington Hillclimb back in 1990 after a 29 year hiatus. Having first been run in 1904, the Climb to the Clouds, as it’s often referred, is the oldest automotive hillclimb in North America.

Joining the Mt. Washington Auto Road in 1977, Howie Wemyss started his career as a Stage Driver giving guided tours to the summit of Mt. Washington for a number of years before being asked to assume the General Manager’s position in 1987.  Always fascinated with the history of the Auto Road, Wemyss stated recently “I was particularly impressed with Bill Rutan’s 13 minute, 9 second record run from 1961, a record I would talk about on every tour I gave as a Stage Driver. He was a legendary figure in our minds. Shortly after becoming General Manager I was approached by Frank Jost, who at the time was working at the new car museum in Intervale, NH, about putting together an antique car race.  I started getting excited about the possibility of racing here again after all those years – even if it was a vintage race.  We hadn’t gotten all that far in planning when Robert Brotherus appeared in my office one day, wanting to talk with me about a full blown race. He had somehow gotten legendary rally driver John Buffum’s ear and expertise and was able to present a pretty compelling story to a very willing audience. After much internal discussion, in 1990 we brought back this amazing race.”

Since the 1990 Climb to the Clouds, which attracted twenty or so drivers to Pinkham Notch to test their skills against the mountain after a 29 year hiatus, the event has grown exponentially thanks to Wemyss' guidance and vision, along with the constant support of the owners of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. 

Throughout the 1990s, the hillclimb continued to grow, attracting as many as 60 top notch road race, rally and hillclimb drivers from across the United States and Canada for each event as well as a growing crowd of spectators.  New records were set along the 7.6 mile course – first by local rally driver Tim O’Neil from Whitefield, NH in 1990 when he set a fastest time of 7 minutes 45 seconds piloting a rare all-wheel-drive Volkswagen Rally Golf. Record times continued in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995 – with multi-time Canadian rally champion Frank Sprongl recording a time of 6 minutes, 41.99 seconds in 1998 driving a 400 horsepower Audi Quattro S2 – a record that would stand for thirteen years.

In 2004, in recognition of the centennial of the first hillclimb on Mt. Washington in 1904, the race was resurrected as a vintage only event that gathered over 25 vehicles with past Mt. Washington hillclimbing and auto racing history.

In 2011, the Climb to the Clouds was seen as one of the key events needed in a summer long celebration in support of the Mt. Washington Auto Road’s 150th anniversary.  With organizational assistance from the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire and Vermont SportsCar, the Mt. Washington Hillclimb roared back to life after ten years attracting nearly 75 cars and drivers from across the United States, Canada and Europe.  This time, multi-time Rally America National Champion David Higgins from the Isle of Man set a new record time of 6 minutes 11.04 seconds driving a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2011 Subaru WRX STI for Subaru Rally Team USA.

With the excitement for the race now rekindled, Wemyss met with members of the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire to discuss the possibility of bringing the Nation’s oldest hillclimb back to Mt. Washington every three years or so.  In 2014, with 80 teams making their way to Pinkham Notch from across North America and the United Kingdom, yet another record was set on the Northeast’s tallest peak – a blistering fast time of 6 minutes, 9.09 seconds set again by Subaru Rally Team USA’s driver, David Higgins, along with his talented Co-Driver, Craig Drew, driving their 2014 Subaru WRX STI.

In 2017, Wemyss and his talented team at the Mt. Washington Auto Road will once again work with the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire to welcome back 80 teams to Green’s Grant in Pinkham Notch, just 8 miles south of Gorham, NH, when the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb returns to the Auto Road July 7-9, 2017.  With 18 or more states represented as well as the countries of Romania, Finland, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Canada and Australia, as well as the United States of America, the event will be the most international automotive hillclimb the Mt. Washington Auto Road has ever held.

“The history of this event is wonderful” stated Wemyss, “It’s a unique race that appeals to a niche of people who want to challenge themselves on this road, and we’re happy to have people be able to take on that challenge. But aside from that we can’t do this without it making sense from a business prospective - so we hope to do well financially and/or get great publicity that will help make sense of the fact that we close the Road to the public for two half days and one full day in July.” When asked what his hopes were for the 2017 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb, Wemyss replied “A safe event, great weather, happy sponsors, organizers and fans – and a sub six minute run!”

Set for July 7-9, 2017, the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb will serve as a 3-day motorsports festival filled with a variety of motorsports-oriented activities for all ages including a vendor area, historic car displays and a possible autograph session topped off by the return of the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb along the 7.6 mile Mt. Washington Auto Road on Sunday, July 9, 2017.

For more information regarding the 2017 Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb, including the events history and list of record times or how to purchase spectator tickets to view the race from the base area or along the course visit www.climbtotheclouds.com.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Subaru Returns with the 2016 Edition of Launch Control:

Travis Pastrana is back to chase team mate David Higgins, while Subaru Rallycross team set out to reclaim their lost greatness.