Tag Archives: Geoff Clark

Saab Rally Team Recap Of New England Forest Rally

Posted on 30. Jul, 2009 by .

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A few weeks ago, I mentioned that longtime Saab rally drivers, Luke Sorenson and Geoff Clark of the Saab Rally team will be competing in the New England Forest Rally this year.

The team participated at the rally on both Friday, July 17th as well as Saturday, July 18th in Bethel, Maine near Sunday River Ski resort.

I unfortunately, was unable to make it, however, fellow Saab Enthusiast Zach of New Hampshire, managed to get to the event and took some stunning photography as well as video footage as well as you see above.

I have also been in touch with both Luke & Geoff and hopefully they will be providing a summary of their rally in the not-so-distant future. I am hoping that they have some good stories to tell about their experience combined with material about on their rally statistics.

I think it’s so special to have folks this dedicated to continue rally sport with a legendary Saab 99. Those that manage to do this such as these two have, should get some sort of official acknowledgment from Saab Automobile because they are, far and few between, but inspirational nonetheless with all of the time and effort they have contributed over the years to what put Saab on the map back in the 1960’s.

Update: Geoff has just submitted their recap below!

A quick summary (before I go home):

We arrived to the rally late on Thursday evening but managed to get registered and through tech inspection which made things easier for Friday morning.
Friday we started around 9:00 AM with a parc expose (spectators get to walk around, look at cars, talk to the competitiors)

That was followed by a short 1/2 mile Super Special stage through the Sunday River facility. It was a good spot for spectators because it was only a few hundred feet from the parc expose.
Unfortunately for us the car was running poorly with only about 80hp. The lack of power and the slippery surface made us think the clutch was slipping.

From there we went to the Recreation Park in Mexico, Maine where there was a service and another parc expose. A service after only 1/2 mile of competition is fairly pointless but it was done so that the spectators at Mexico could see servicing. We then ran another 1/2 mile Super Special stage through the Mexico Recreation Park where we thought the clutch was still slipping. Fortunately these two Super Special stages are short so we didn’t lose much time.

After running that Super Special we went to a “regrouping control” (essentially to re-order the cars but worked as another parc expose). We talked with our crew and they started looking for a replacement clutch. We finally located two clutches that other SAAB enthusiasts and service team members could bring with them when they arrived to the rally on Friday night (thanks to Mike White and Seth Strait!). We weren’t excited about changing the clutch late at night but knew it could be done in well under an hour.After the regrouping control we went to two real rally stages, multiple miles long each. Unfortunately the medical crew didn’t show up and the organizers had to cancel those stages for safety. So back to Mexico we went for another service.
We then went to the last stage of the day on Friday, the famous and exciting Concord Pond stage. Just the transit there was exciting with locals and fans waving, sitting on their porches or standing on their lawns cheering us as we slowly drove by. There were even little girls doing coordinated dances! We got to the stage and had a good time going as fast as we could with an underpowered car. That stage helped prove to us that we had a power issue, not a clutch issue so we wouldn’t be changing clutches at midnight.
Friday counted as one regional rally which only ended up being two 1/2 mile Super Special stages and the 5 mile Concord Pond stage.

Saturday started early with a one hour transit to Berlin, NH to the site of the former Fraser Paper Mill. The mill was torn down a few years ago and a biomass plant is scheduled to be put in. For the mean time we had a service there. We had figured out that the power issue with the car might be due to a faulty intake air temperature sensor and possibly a bad ECU map. We were late heading to service so our crew stopped at a few auto parts stores looking for a sensor, which they found, but we didn’t have enough time to change it in that service.
On the way to service we discovered that the wipers wouldn’t self-cancel and kept running. I pulled the fuse out and taped it to the dash and would stick it in when we needed wipers (the fuse box is on the dash within reach of the codriver).

We ran a 0.9 mile Super Special through the Fraser Paper Mill and hit a muddy puddle on the first corner. I had to try to plug the fuse in as we were bouncing around and couldn’t read the route book. At one point in the stage there is a hard right turn and if you were to go straight you’d end up going over a large waterfall. When I saw where we were I yelled “TURN RIGHT!!!!!”
We then ran two long (~8 mile?) stages just east of the paper mill before coming back to service. We did as best we could with an underpowered car on these stages but Luke wasn’t having much fun because once we hit around 4000rpms the car would stop accelerating.

When we got back to service Seth installed the temperature sensor, Luke re-mapped the ECU, I made some long pigtails to plug into the fuse box so I could cross the wires when we needed wipers, and the rest of the crew went wild fixing and checking everything else.

We then drove another hour north to the final five stages of the day. We had been scheduled to run four stages that afternoon but the organizers worked hard to get us another due to the two that were cancelled on Friday.

We also now had a lot more power (maybe 300+hp? Luke can better estimate)
The final five stages went really well and we set some fast times. There were some rough sections in two of the stages but we managed to get the car through with only some minor Knicks in the skidplate and some minor damage to the tires. The only scary moment was when an empty water bottle that I hadn’t properly stowed got loose and got in Luke’s way. I was able to grab it and hold it for the rest of the stage.

Our good performance on the last five stages moved us into 6th place (out of 32 starters) in Saturday’s regional rally and second in class (Group 5). We also did well enough to come in 4th in the two-wheel drive championship known as “Max Attack!” (www.max-attack.com). Max Attack combines the results from both days (Friday and Saturday) to come up with the winners, so our power troubles from Friday and Saturday morning played into our finish. Even though we had power issues, the car that came in 3rd in two-wheel drive was a lower powered car and was driven very well. I think we would have had a real tight battle with them had our car had full power the whole weekend.

OK, so that summary wasn’t that quick….

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Saab Rally Team Compete in New England Forest Rally

Posted on 15. Jul, 2009 by .

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Photo Credits: Pete Kuncis

The Saab Rally Team here in the North East, are at it again, this time as an entry to the New England Forest Rally here in Maine this Friday, July 17th in Bethel, Maine near Sunday River Ski resort.

Driver Luke Sorenson and co-driver Geoff Clark will be taking their 1975 Saab 99 rally car that we’ve seen participate in numerous rallies here in the North East region of the United States over the years.

The last time I was at the New England Forest Rally, formerly called the Maine Forest Rally, was in 2001 when I was with the New England Saab Association. At that time there four participants in Saabs! Here here for Luke & Geoff this year for keeping the Saab rally spirit alive in the North East which began back in 1957 with the Great American Mountain Rally.

nefr.jpgThe official entry is in and the team has their sights set on the new england forest rally, scheduled for July 17th 2009.

Veteran saab ralliest Geoff Clark & Luke Sorensen will take the reigns as co driver for the event. Stay tuned for more information regarding the event as the team prepares.

For more details on this rally and to see them in action, please visit this website directly.

New England Forest Rally
July 17th & 18th, 2009
Hosted at Sunday River Ski Resort
Newry, ME
GPS: 44d 28′ 25.21N
and 70d 51′ 22.28W

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