Matt Johnson Comes From Behind To Win Rally America Production GT Class At STPR
Wellsboro, PA (June 3, 2006) - For the second time running Matthew Johnson`s Carolina RallySport team has pulled off the come-from-behind win in the hotly contested Rally America Production GT class. Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) is often blessed with a deluge of rain sometime during the event, this year it came the night beforehand and caused the cancellation of the famous water splash stage. The rally weather ended up being ideal as the stage roads dried up and offered excellent grip for the teams as they flew down the twisty tree lined stages.
Johnson, along with co-driver DeMotte, began the rally with balanced minds and fast times through the first two stages until their challenges began. Johnson said- "We were sliding through a right hander over crest across the finish of SS2 when I noticed the tach swing up into the rev limiter. I knew that meant we`d just lost third gear." Continuing he added- "The car was feeling so good I decided that instead of slowing and losing time without third I`d just attempt to enter some of those corners flat out in 4th.... which didn`t work so well when I came in too fast and smacked a bank on the left side, bending the drivers side suspension arm. We ended up losing about 1:25 on SS3 as a result."
Benefiting from the cancellation of SS4, the water splash stage, the Carolina RallySport crew had time to get busy replacing the front suspension arm and the gearbox in the #46 Subaru WRX. During the service the team also fitted custom cut Hankook rally tires hoping they would provide the traction needed to go back out and chase down the times of Eric `Bang Bang` Langbein and Tanner Foust who were leading the class in 1st and 2nd.
Just as planned the Hankook tires felt great and with the car back in shape Johnson and DeMotte were zooming on the next three stages. As daylight faded and the rally crew fitted their high powered PIAA driving lights there were still three challenging stages laying ahead.
Charging along having retaken second position in class our team was still half a minute away from the lead when the tables changed. Foust, also on Hankook Tires, who had taken the lead from Langbein, had his turn of bad luck and swiped a bank. He didn`t get away as lucky as Johnson and fell to third to finish the rally behind Langbein in second and Johnson with the win.
DeMotte- "When you`re rallying in a class like Production GT with this much competition and pushing this hard it`s not a question of IF you`ll have a crash, it`s more of WHEN it will happen and if you can get lucky and recover. Here at STPR this weekend the roads were super fast for the most part with several slippery `gotcha` corners thrown in to keep us on our toes! We are well pleased to get the win after working hard for it!"
Matt Johnson later went on to exclaim “While it was slippery the turn in was excellent on the Hankook Ventus R202’s. They gave me the confidence over the long stage and really helped me win. They helped me to find my groove”
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