Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 2:25am
2002 U.S. 2WD champion Lauchlin O’Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam have been in a battle all day with 2011 Super Production champion Travis Hanson and his father/co-driver Terry Hanson at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri. The fight has seen O’Sullivan close the gap from nearly 50 seconds when Day 2 of the rally started this morning to .4 seconds as they leave the final service for the last two stages of the event.
O’Sullivan, in fact, made considerable time on SS15, the last stage before the service at Viburnum High School less than an hour outside of the rally headquarters in Salem, MO. The 4.13 mile CR1 West stge saw O’Sullivan and Putnam finish third overall on the stage behind two world class drivers, WRC veteran Ken Block, a five-time winner on 100 Acre Wood, and 2011 U.S. rally champion David Higgins. O’Sullivan turned in a time of 3:33.5 to Hanson’s 3:41.1. O’Sullivan was even ahead of former Polish and European rally champion Krzystof Holowczyc competing in the U.S. for the first time this weekend in Missouri.
O’Sullivan and Putnam have been fighting minor issues all weekend with their car including engine ignition and tire problems. They’ve even been struggling with brake problems on the high speed stages on 100 Acre Wood, considered the fastest in the U.S. championship. But those issues have been resolved, apparently, with each service. In this last loop of stages O’Sullivan and Putnam have been faster than their main rivals, The Hansons, on four of the five stages.
There are two stages or performance tests left in the event before the cars roll into Salem for the finish and award ceremonies.