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A Story about How I Met Mark...

Posted by Paul \"Pablo\" Eklund on Tuesday, July 22, 2003

In late December of 2000, I received an email from Prodrive asking if I wanted to try out for what was to become Subaru Rally Team USA. All I had to do, was to buy a ticket for the UK and get my way to Banbury for the testing...

When I arrived a few days later, I met up with the other eager hopefuls (3 others from North America--Noel Lawler,Patrick Richard, Karl Scheible, and some from the UK--Robbie Head, Richard Tuthill, and of course Mark Lovell.) Mark arrived a bit late and was very quiet.

I distinctly remember the actual in-car testing that took place in Wales (the Sweet Lamb Complex I believe) with Bill Gywnne as our evaluator. Just after Prodrive's Dave Campion explained that they had just brough out ONE car, and the guy who wrecked it would be frowned upon, he announced that I would be first to drive. Great... I motored carefully around the warm-up track, getting used to the dog box and how the car felt. They asked us to slow as we came around near the camp as the motorhomes were parked closeby... I would lift as I came around on each lap. I did OK, it was just a warm up....

A short while later, Mark jumped into the Impreza. He revved to about 6600RPM, dropped the clutch, and sent 4 rooster tails of mud, rock and dirt soaring skyward. As he came around the warm-up area, he was doing about 65-70mph and stood on the throttle as he made another pass. Rocks showered the technicians and on-lookers, the windshield of the motorhome was cracked, and it left craters in the side panels of all nearby vehicles. He never slowed. That was his warm up.

I turned on my heel and was wondering if I could book an earlier flight home. Subaru signed him later that night after the actual road testing.

When I talked with Mark, he was very personable and understated, even shy. But underneath he was supremely talented and confident in his abilities. He never even mentioned (to me) that I looked like a grandma out on course (we later learned that the boost control was broken for my initial run...), but I never got a chance to spend a lot of time with him again. He did have a quick wit. Pe

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