Ken-Block-THUMB-Rally-America-New-England-7-30-13Newry, ME -- Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino won their first New England Forest Rally (NEFR), round 5 of the Rally America National Championship, on July 26-27th headquartered in Newry, Maine after a closely fought battle with Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew. The margins between the two teams were incredibly thin and either could have snatched victory. Subaru Rally Team USA drove a nearly flawless event and pushed the Hoonigan camp hard all weekend, but Block and Gelsomino persevered with a 6.5 second buffer at the end.

Block and Gelsomino’s NEFR nearly came to an end when their Ford Fiesta H.F.H.V. experienced electrical problems on stage 11. They had no intercom communications for nearly 13 miles before the alternator quit on the transit back to service. Open Class rivals Rifat Sungkar and Steve Lancaster, who were in fourth place overall at the time, graciously towed the Hoonigan Racing Team back to the service area so Hoonigan Racing Team could complete repairs and continue their race.

Portland, OR — Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew won 12 stages out of 16 to win his fourth Oregon Trail Rally.

Higgins never trailed in the rally even when he shot off the road at high speed and bent his rear control arms. The team managed to finish the stage and hobbled to the service for repairs.

“I thought I was done for when I went off,” said Higgins, “But my team got me back on the road. I couldn’t have done it without them. I ‘m so proud to win four Oregon Trail Rallies. I’m getting up there with Ken Block in wins at single events!” said Higgins.

Notably, Higgins’ closest rival, the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, needed to bounce back from a DNF suffered at the second round of the Rally American National Championship. At the Oregon Trail Rally the team dogged Higgins until a few turns into stage 7 the car stopped. They were unable to continue and a second DNF severely complicated their chances for another Rally America title.

Lewiston, MI — Ice-covered roads were the story at the 38th annual running of the Sno*Drift Rally, the kick-off event to the 2012 Rally America National Championship, but it was Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew who managed the extreme conditions to take the overall win. Higgins and Drew are the reigning 2011 national champions, and they took the first step towards defending their title in the six-round 2012 Rally America National Championship by winning 15 out of 24 stages.

“This is a good win,” said Higgins, “The conditions were the most treacherous I have ever seen.”

Higgins finished the event 1:49.9 ahead of Rockstar Energy Drink’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. The Rockstar team never held the lead but they made considerable time on Higgins on the first leg of day 2 and looked like they would get closer to challenging the Subaru driver.

“We chose to use snow tires at the start of the day,” said L’Estage, “versus Higgins’ ice tires. We just gambled right and were making up good time until after the first service.”

Last year, Sno*Drift winners Travis and Terry Hanson made rally history by becoming the first Super Production (SP) team to win an overall event. This year the son and father duo took third overall for a consecutive Sno*Drift podium and secured the SP Class win in dominant fashion. The finish was all but miraculous as the team didn’t expect to complete the event due to engine problems before the second day began. Due to the sound of their engine, itappeared it could break at anytime. The team fought through the mechanical issues, however, and managed a highly respectable podium spot while continuing to prove the competiveness of the Super Production Class as a viable contender to the more powerful Open Class cars.

NEWRY, ME — One of the most spectacular seasons in Rally America Championship history came to an end at the New England Forest Rally with Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard atop of the NEFR podium for the second consecutive year. The privateer Rockstar Rally Team took the lead from the start and held it for the entire duration of the event, winning eight of the eleven special stages. L’Estage finished 48 seconds ahead of Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins.

Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew focused on getting to the finish having to place fourth or better here to secure the National Championship win. Higgins faced overheating issues on Day 1 and fuel pressure issues on Day 2, but eventually finished second overall to win the title back for Subaru. This victory marks the third American Championship title of Higgins’ rally career.

Rounding out the podium was Super Production (SP) class driver Travis Hanson and co-driver Terry Hanson. The privateer father/son team put the finishing touches on their flawless season by placing third overall in Maine and third overall in the National Championship. The Hansons dealt with severe overheating issues late in Day 2 while battling to stay ahead of Tom Lawless and co-driver Alex Kihurani. Hanson edged Lawless out of a podium spot by just 7 seconds. Hanson leaves NEFR with the SP class win and a dominant Super Production Championship title victory.

The New England Forest Rally is based in Newry, Maine and features approximately 100 competitive miles of fast, rugged logging roads. Heavy attrition caused by the rough and rocky stage road surfaces is expected, making NEFR one of the toughest events on the Rally America calendar. Retirements were in abundance this year, most notably Joseph Burke who blew his turbo on Stage 1 and Heath Nunnemacher who was in podium contention before crashing out on the famous Concord Pond stage.

Attrition also got the best of Super Production drivers Ramana Lagemann and Lauchlin O’Sullivan. Lagemann and O’Sullivan came to Maine with only one point separating them as they prepared to battle each other for second place in the SP Championship. Lagemann and co-driver Chrissie Beavis were put out of the event early on Day 1 with a misfiring engine; O’Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam DNF’d on Stage 4 with a blown turbo and a small engine fire.

Evan Cline and co-driver Greg Dorman scored their season best, finishing second in SP class and ninth overall. Andrew Wickline and co-driver Stephen Kurey also got their first class podium finish of the season, giving Wickline just enough points to take second place in the Super Production Championship ahead of Ramana Lagemann.

In Two-Wheel-Drive (2WD) competition, a fierce battle raged between more than 25 crews fighting for a piece of the $15,000 MaxAttack! Series prize money. Chris Duplessis and co-driver Karl Atkinson set a blistering pace from the beginning to finish well over three minutes ahead of second fastest 2WD crew of Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey. Duplessis put his Ford Fiesta R2 in an astonishing fifth overall.

ACP’s rally almost came to an end when his Scion xD’s oil pan cracked late on Day 2, but he managed to finish second in class and sixth overall. Ford Racing’s Dillon Van Way and co-driver Jake Blattner successfully put a second Fiesta on the class podium and were the third 2WD crew to finish in the top ten overall.

Wyatt Knox and co-driver Ole Holter had a problematic weekend with fuel system issues on Day 1 causing their Mazda3′s engine to cut out several times. Knox limped the car late into Day 2 before an engine fire finally forced him to retire. Knox and Holter earned enough points in the season that their start at NEFR secured them the 2WD National Championship title.

Last Ditch Racing’s John Cassidy and co-driver Jennifer Daly won the Mexico Regional Rally on Day 1 of NEFR by 13.4 seconds over Jason Smith and co-driver Jared Lantzy. Martin Walter and co-driver Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff finished third, rounding out the Mexico Regional podium.

Smith and Lantzy also had a successful Day 2, winning the Errol Regional Rally in their Open Light class 1994 Subaru Impreza by over two minutes on MAP Rally Team’s Mark Piatkowski and co-driver Robert Maciejski. Kevin Turner and co-driver Robert Sockalexis placed third on the Day 2 Regional, piloting a 2WD Subaru Impreza to finish only 5 seconds behind Piatkowski.

Portland, OR  – Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew took a commanding win at the Oregon Trail Rally, round four of the 2011 Rally America Championship. Higgins finished 3 minutes 26.9 seconds ahead of rival Antoine L’Estage and won ten of the fifteen stages. It was a tight battle with David Higgins but the Mitsubishi Rockstar crew of Antione L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard suffered three tire punctures in a row on day two, which cost them the chance to keep pace with Higgins. Oregon marks Higgins’ second consecutive victory of the season having just won the Olympus Rally two weeks ago in Washington State. Higgins now assumes the overall Championship from Travis Hanson, who has lead the points race since the opening round at Sno*Drift Rally.

The Oregon Trail Rally began Friday with spectator stages held at the Portland International Raceway before moving to the scenic farmlands in and around The Dalles and Dufur for days two and three. Oregon Trail began as a dry and dusty rally, but was consumed by heavy rains and thunderstorms during the middle of day two. The inclement weather forced event organizers to cancel the last two stages of day two and shorten some of day three’s stages.

Ocean Shores, WA — Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew of the United Kingdom were declared the winner of the shortened Olympus National Rally, finishing Stage 6 with a 15 second lead over the second place Rockstar Mitsubishi crew of Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. Subaru Rally Team Canada driver Pat Richard of Squamish, British Columbia completed the overall podium. Richard was competing at Olympus as a one-off event with his new co-driver, Leanne Junnila.

This is the first American event Higgins has won since winning the 2002-2003 SCCA ProRally Championship. He went on to win multiple British Rally Championships before replacing action sport icon Travis Pastrana on Subaru Rally Team USA at the beginning of this year.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard have won the 2011 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood after a flawless drive from start to end. L’Estage set a blistering pace early on, winning ten of the event’s fifteen special stages and finishing 17.7 seconds ahead of international rally ace David Higgins. This victory was a particularly sweet one for L’Estage, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday, the second and final day of the rally.

Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew placed second overall, netting their first points of the season and keeping pressure on L’Estage as they gave chase for the duration of rally. Higgins’ Subaru teammate Dave Mirra rounded out the podium by maintaining third overall through most of the event with a solid drive. This is the second consecutive podium finish of the season for Mirra and co-driver Marshall Clarke, who are coming into their own after only two events together.