Gottlieb wins International Rally New York in style

The up-and-coming rally team of Matt Gottlieb and Austin Gager (Subaru Impreza WRX) took advantage of breakages by the favorites, as well as their own speed, to win International Rally New York 2011. This should be a popular win in the Catskill Mountain region of New York State where the rally is held. Both are locals who ran their first national rally at the spring Rally New York USA in 2009.

Gottlieb/Gager ran in the top five on the first leg, as the more veteran entries of Martin Donnelly/Brendan McCabe (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, from Ireland) and Michael Reilly/Josh Benthien (Ford Focus turbo, from Maine) raced for the lead. But the Reilly/Benthien car suffered a broken transmission casing on the first afternoon, and Donnelly/McCabe went out with unspecified mechanical problems on the second day. (For
Reilly, this must have been especially disappointing, because this was the first time that his 2 wheel drive Ford was among the theoretically faster 4 wheel drive leaders.) Gottlieb then had to cope with an
engine problem, which robbed the Subaru of power at the top end in the closing miles.

Alvin Fong/Billy Madison (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) achieved what many can only dream about – placing second in their first national rally. They were 2-3/4 minutes ahead of the more veteran Niall Johnson/Daniela
Manago (Subaru Impreza WRX). Those two teams also finished first and second in the Production All Wheel Drive class. Fong’s team, in order to keep him focused on finishing, had not told him where he stood in
the rally. He didn’t find out that he was the runner-up until the staff of a checkpoint broke the news just before the end.

With Reilly/Benthien out early, the local father/son team of Tom and Brian Barton (Mazda 323) looked set to take home the rally’s 2 Wheel Drive category. But wheel bearing or axle problems late in the second day allowed the novice team of J. Tyler Rohrer/Dane Hylan to take home the top 2WD prize ahead of the Bartons. (This was the second rally for Rohrer. It was the first for Hylen, who just a few weeks ago was flying helicopters for the U. S. Army in Afghanistan.)

Mechanical failures did not prevent the 2011 United States Rally Championship leaders from taking home top honors. In the All Wheel Drive category, Mitchell Williams/Alix Hakala (Audi 80) came into this final series event with a huge lead. They went out of the rally on the first special stage with a flat tire and broken wheel, but the points for starting the rally put them over the top. Likewise, the husband/wife
team of Chris and Lori O’Driscoll (Subaru Impreza WRX) were near the top of the standings, went out with clutch failure here, but placed second in the AWD points race. Similarly, in the 2 Wheel Drive
championship, Michael Reilly/Josh Benthien were sidelined early, but claimed the season title. Eric Potts/Steve Case (Ford Focus) were second, despite a poor finish in International Rally New York due to
contacting a tree.
– Credit: Information supplied by Rally New York Media.

Gottlieb/Gager winning IRNY 2011 - Picture by Liviu Hrituleac,