Chinese & Irish Crew win 2013 USA National Rally Title!
October 9, 2013 by Martin Brady
Tingwu Song and his navigator Martin Brady celebrated another outright rally victory this weekend in the foothills of the Prescott Valley Arizona and it was a career highlight for the Chinese national as he claimed the 2013 N.A.S.A National Rally Championship in the process, guided by the Irish voice of Martin Brady made it an even more globally diverse success story.
Coming into the rally knowing that only a victory would be enough to claim the national title it was a nervous start for the Chinese and Irish pairing who were in their second full season together on American rallies. The Arizona stages were fast dusty and challenging with significant drops off the mountain side. The roads follow the old train tracks that once led to remote mines. A cautious start on this terrain left the pair second overall after two stages and then move into the lead as the rally completed its first night stage. However the dust hung thick in the cold night air and with vision restricted a slower final stage saw the yellow Mitsubishi finish day 1 at 22 seconds off the lead. Finishing the night back in the city of Prescott knowing that 8 stages still remained and the championship was the goal Song commented, “We are happy to be out of the night stages, they were scary in parts and I just didn’t want to risk anything. Second is good for now we will try tomorrow to go faster and Martin is pushing me with the pacenotes so I just have to drive fast and not lift my foot off the gas on the sweeping corners and long straights so we should make up the time on the next few stages”
Day two dawned with blazing sun and clear conditions and enough of a light breeze so that dust would not be a deciding factor in the way the rally battle would fall. Tingwu & Martin woke up gradually taking fastest on the first stage by 6 seconds and edge back nearer to the lead. Then on the next stage they set a storming time 37 seconds faster than the competition to move into a slight lead. However in rallying drama is always literally around the next corner and clipping a very solid rock brought an instant puncture to a rear wheel and Song & Brady drove on as fast as they dared over the last 9 miles of the stage with the puncture and lost over half a minute and the lead in the process. Driving a rally car at close to 100mph down long straights on a flat wheel is incomprehensible to many but unquestionable to a determined rally driver. Mechanically however not many cars can withstand this unpunished and suspension damage also was sustained when driving on the bare wheel rim, but the excellent work and quick thinking of the team mechanics saw the broken suspension repaired with a welder and Song & Brady took off into the stages again eager to claim back the lead and their championship goal in the process.
It was tense times in the car over the final four stages of the rally. With two stages to go they had regained the lead but knowing that any bad luck or even the slightest mistake could shatter a seasons hopes in one foul swoop. Masterfully Tingwu Song piloted his Mitsubishi rally car over the final two tests to cross the finish line the rally winner and claim the national title also. It was a dream come true for the Chinese driver and his team. To add to the reward this result also earns Song & Brady the regional accolade of Californian Rally Series Four Wheel Drive champion too.
At the prizegiving it was a proud moment for Song and the team with navigator Martin commenting, “Tingwu drove an excellent rally and a great season, I knew how much pressure we all felt to drive fast and win this weekend but not make a mistake and that is not easy on these stages but he performed excellent and the result and the national title is our reward thanks to him”
Tingwu summed up the teams joy when he said “To win here is a brilliant feeling, we had to drive so fast to get the victory and I want to thank my team, the rally organisers and my Irish navigator Martin for helping me to become the first Chinese driver to win a USA national title it is a very special moment for us”