The husband and wife PGT team of David and Tammy Alan were narrowly beaten into second place by the open class car of another husband and wife team, Henry and Cindy Krolikowski in this weekend's revamped Magnum Opus rally in Michigan's upper peninsula.
After the stress of last minute preparations for the Sno*Drift rally in January the team enlisted the services of Lenger Racing to prepare the Alba Rallysport PGT WRX for Magnum Opus, a single day rally in Michigan’s UP. Typically April in the Upper Peninsula is still snowmobile season so the crew were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with sunny skies and dry, dusty conditions.
Based in the town of Newberry the locals were welcoming and enthusiastic. Parc Expose was held in the service park followed by two short Super Specials in the Fairgrounds which was certainly a crowd pleaser.
The Allans were seeded 4th on the road and not having competed in a gravel rally together since 2008 planned to take it easy. Well, that’s easier said than done and as soon as the countdown started for SS1 they had their game faces on and put on a show for the spectators around the grassy oval Super Special. The Krolikowskis were instantly the ones to chase and the Sti of Moyle/Immonen wasn’t hanging about either. "We had a fight on our hands just to keep up with both crews" stated David.
As they headed out to stage 3, Skyline, they put the pressure on and took 7 seconds out of the #377 Sti but a long way off the Krolikowskis. The stage was hard packed and winding with a large number of spectators enjoying the rally as they neared the end of the 5.5 mile test. "The car was oversteering more than I preferred so at the turn around we dropped the tyre pressures on the DMacks significantly and were fine for the rest of the day." said driver David after the stage. On the way out on stage 4 they pushed a little too hard into a 4th gear corner and just got away with going wide on the exit, the sandy bank shaving a couple of seconds off but keeping them on the road.
They headed north to stages 5 and 6 which were wide, fast and a little loose. "Without a doubt the fastest stages I’ve ever driven, all 5s and 6s if we had had stage notes. There were only a couple of corners noted in the tulips! We topped the car out in 5th gear" said an excited co-driver Tammy after demanding they go faster"! Despite the lack of power, stage 6 was the crew's first Rally America stage win. The top 3 cars were seconds apart so were all pushing hard. This was a serious battle.
The team returned to Newberry for the first service and had to tighten up the bolts in the rear. The allotted 30 minutes flew by and as the service crew lowered the car seconds away from their time out minute the car hung up on the jack and so they just made it to the control. They were moved up to 3rd on the road but without lights so they had to hope that the rally stayed on schedule.
The race headed north again to loop around the same 4 stages and David and Tammy continued to put the pressure on through Skyline In/Out even though the stage was much softer than previously what with 50 cars passing along it. This was the team's second stage win of the weekend. "The car felt great and we were totally in sync with the tulips with Tammy occasionally looking up as a second pair of eyes on the stage calling out corners. This was definitely a ‘drive what you see’ rally so all eyes forward was our strategy." uttered David after the flying finish.
With the sun setting on the west bound stage 8 they dropped several seconds but amazingly the #377 crew set their fastest time in the blinding sun! With fingers crossed hoping the light wouldn’t fade they next headed over to the wide open and fast flowing Pike Lake Rd stage and set exactly the same time as the first pass through. "I like consistency but the #44 car was pulling away so we put the boot down on the following 3 mile stage and took 5 seconds back." said Tammy later. Moyle and Immonen had the same idea though and nipped 2 seconds off them on the stage.
The crew made it back to service with very little fuel left but glad to be back for some lights and a quick wrench check under the car. As they left for the final two stages the wind dropped and so the dust became a challenge. Regardless, they didn’t back off on stages 11 and 12 and pushed hard to the end only 1 and 2 seconds off the Krolikowski's Open Class STi, just not able to gain any more time. As David put it "We just run out of stages and we transited back to Newberry for the end of what was simply the best rally we’ve competed in."
With 2nd overall this is the best result to date for the ecstatic team and to have done it together as husband and wife was just such a cool moment never to forget. "The competition was top class and words can’t describe the fun we had battling with those two highly respected teams. There is only one thing I would change, we need more power!"