Hamilton-female-rally-4-4-13San Diego, CA – The 23rd edition of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles concluded with a significant turn of events in the final hours of competition.  The all women’s rally raid across southern Morocco lived up to its reputation as the toughest all women’s competition.

In total, 150 teams took part in the event, which took place March 16th-31st with teams divided into three classes:  4×4, Quad/Moto and Crossover.  The event began in Erfoud, Morocco and from there competitors drove through Merzouga, El Beg’a, M’Hamid, Ihander, the highest dunes in northern Africa: Erg Chebbi and ended in Foum Zguid.  In total the ideal combined distance ranged between 1200 to 1260 kms and estimated driving time of just over 80 hours.  Two-person teams of drivers and navigators crossed the northern portion of the Sahara Desert completely off-road for nine days using only outdated maps, a compass and a ruler to guide their way.  Cell phones and GPS units are strictly prohibited and personal support crews are not permitted.   The goal is to reach set checkpoints in the least amount of distance with an optimal straight line.  The team with the least amount of accumulated penalty points wins and competition days vary from rocky terrain, silty riverbeds, endless sections of camel grass to the famous dunes of Erg Chebbi and Erg Chegaga.

Williston, Vermont – Officials with Rally America, Inc., the premier sanctioning body for stage rally competition in North America, announced today that their very popular National Championship Contingency Program awarded nearly $110,000 in cash and product prizes from Subaru of America, Ford Racing, Recaro USA, Hawk Performance Brakes, GrimmSpeed, Exedy Racing Clutches and DMack Tyres USA to both Regional and National competitors throughout the 2012 Rally America National Championship season which ran from January through September and included six events across the country from Washington state to Maine.

The 2012 Rally America National Championship season kicked off in late January on the ice and snow-covered roads of the Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta and Lewiston, Michigan and was followed a month later by the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Salem, Missouri in late February. After a 2-month hiatus, teams from across the United States, Canada and Australia made their way to the always-popular Oregon Trail Rally in May which was based in Portland and Dufur, Oregon before heading East across the country for the fast roads of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania in early June. The always challenging New England Forest Rally took place in mid-July in the forests surrounding Newry, Maine and Errol, New Hampshire while the 6-event National Championship concluded in late September with the legendary Olympus Rally which was based in Olympia and Shelton, Washington.

SNOQUALMIE, Wash. –  Professional athlete Shaun White is branching out from the thrill of asphalt at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and taking to the mud of Old Mill Adventure Park as he continues to upgrade his driving performance with BFGoodrich Tires in Chapter 3 of the “Upgrade to BFGoodrich” campaign. The automotive enthusiast spent time behind the wheel of a full-bore rally car at DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Wash., to learn the basics of rally driving from experts in this unique motorsport. His latest adventures will debut today in an interactive experience at www.bfgoodrichtires.com/shaunwhite.

Chapter 3 – “Rally 101”

Continuing White’s driving upgrade, the BFGoodrich Tires team put him through the paces at the DirtFish Rally School on a muddy Rally 101 course. White was instructed by two rally racing all-stars – Forest Duplessis, DirtFish Rally School chief instructor, and David Higgins, British Rally Champion and Subaru Rally Team USA member. During White’s time behind the wheel of a Vermont SportsCar-prepared Subaru race car equipped with BFGoodrich® g-Force Rally tires, he learned advanced car control, including trail braking and cornering techniques.

Check out the videos below:

Ocean Shores, MO –  The Rally America National Championship schedule resumes at the end of April with its two-event West Coast Swing in Washington and Oregon. The Olympus Rally April 30th-May 1st runs along the beautiful shorelines of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula.  More than 50 top teams representing the United States, Canada and Great Britain will travel to the seaside community of Ocean Shores, WA for the third round of six Rally America National Championship events.

The season has already delivered surprising results. Perhaps the biggest surprise comes from privateer New Hampshire driver Travis Hanson, a Super Production Class competitor, who currently leads the overall Championship over many quicker, factory supported Open Class teams.  Hanson, a rally school instructor from Littleton, NH, and his father, Terry  from Traverse City, Michigan drew a line in the snow by winning the season opening Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Michigan last January 2011.

They scored enough points with a fifth at the second round, February’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri, to stay atop the standings. All of this is history for the Rally America championship.  The Sno*Drift victory marked the first time a Super Production driver won an event overall.  And this is the first time a privateer, non-factory supported team, has led the championship this late in the season.

The Hansons will once again cross the country to test their fate at the Olympus Rally on the same roads that saw them crash out of the event on the first day last year.  Travis and Terry will have another chance to defend their unprecedented challenged at the Oregon Trail Rally in Portland, Oregon just two weeks later, May 13-15th.

X Games BMX legend, Dave Mirra from North Carolina and multi-time British Rally Champion, David Higgins from Wales  will be among those hoping to catch the Hansons and put their Subaru Rally Team USA back on the top step of the Podium.   Mirra has been Subaru Rally Team USA’s most consistent finisher so far in 2011. Mirra sits just three points behind Travis Hanson for second place in the overall point standings.  Mirra has a long resume of experience at Olympus having run in the event since 2008. He’ll need to draw on that experience to overtake the steadiness of Team Hanson. Mirra has sniffed at an overall event win. Last year he earned his first ever podium finish at Olympus.  This year Mirra was second at Sno*Drift and third at 100 Acre Wood so he’s close to a win that could put him in the overall Rally America championship lead after Olympus.

The new Rally America National Championship season will launch into the freezing winter of Northern Michigan at the end of the month. The Sno*Drift Rally January 28-29th will slide amongst the trees and frozen roads in Atlanta and Lewiston, Michigan! The images are post card beautiful. The stories are best-seller dramatic.

The hot competition always heats up Sno*Drift’s frigid temperatures. Returning for the 2011 season is the Subaru Rally Team USA with BMX Legend and X Games star, Dave Mirra, and a new driver familiar to longtime rally fans, Britain’s David Higgins. Higgins is the 2004 British Rally Champion and the replacement in the seat left vacant by action sports star Travis Pastrana, who announced last month he’ll participate in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. Higgins brings exceptional rally experience to the team having won the 2002-2003 SCCA ProRally Championships and is considered an instant top challenger for an American championship again.