Andy, I wasn't being conceited... This is a Celica forum, thus the comparisons are only to Celica drivers that I've run against. Alan and Elbert did well against Joe, especially on day two. I know that they don't have the setup $ in the car that the guys on the East Coast have. If you look at the quality of the drivers we run against in GS at every Tour and Pro, it tells me that the talent pool is deep. Just take a look at the Ft. Myers Pro:
The top 5 (of 12) are all within .8 second of each other (all driving Celicas). For the event, Bryan paxed 2nd, Rob 4th, Rick 5th, GH 6th, and I was 9th out of 140 drivers. GH Sharp, who crushed everyone in the Tour the week before, finished 4th (former National Champion). Rick and Rob finished 3rd and 2nd respectively. Take a look at the thread about 'Writing the GOSPEL and National Event wins'... both of their records speak for themselves. My co-driver finished 9th at Nationals last year (first Nationals), got a 3rd a Rome Tour '02, and won this event. 6th place Chang Ho Kim has won plenty of Pros and Tours, in GS and other classes. 9th place David Schnoerr (former National Champion) was apparently murdering the locals in his 337 GTI (Darren Disimo and others thought he'd do extremely well at the Ft. Myers Tour/Pro), yet he was a distant 9th in the Pro, and 6th in the Tour. Jean Kinser Dana who runs Evolution School and was .056 behind me in 4th in the previous week's Tour was 8th... and she has her share of National wins along with a Ladies National Championship.
Obviously, these are deep fields... Another good example is Chris Hartman from '02. Here is an extremely nice guy, and a very good driver. Came into the Pro Finale with 40 points, winning 2 of the 3 West Coast events he entered (2nd at Wendover to Russell Blume). In the Pro Finale, he finished 6th, behind 4 Celicas (GH, Rick, Brian Priebe, and myself) and Russell Blume in his 318is. Does that mean that Chris is a bad driver? Hell no, but he was awfully surprised by the talent pool on the East Coast. Remember, this is coming from a guy who won El Toro Pro by 2.7 seconds and nipped the second win at Atwater by .15 seconds where he felt he didn't drive well, although he went on to runner up status for the Super Challenge at that event. Since Nationals, all of the Celicas I've mentioned have altered their shock setup, and have gotten even faster. - AB