Higgin-New-England-Rally-7-10-13Williston, VT (July 10, 2013) — The fifth round of the Rally America National Championship resumes at the New England Forest Rally on July 26-27th in Newry, Maine with 57 national and international teams – one of the largest entry fields since 2010 – slated to tackle some of the smoothest, fastest competition roads on the calendar.

The New England Forest Rally (NEFR) has been hard at work the past year improving road conditions and gaining permission from land owners to expand the race for a better fan experience and a less punishing race for the competitors. The event promises more spectator viewing options allowing fans to choose to drive to free viewing areas, purchase a Sunday River Resort shuttle pass ($10 per person on Friday and $15 per person on Saturday) to more viewing areas or take an all-inclusive catered VIP Bus to private locations.

Ken-Block-Rally-America-6-4-13Wellsboro, PA — Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino took their first overall win of the season at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) – round four of the 2013 Rally America National Championship – held on May 31-June 1 in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. The victory marks the duo’s second STPR Rally overall win and it comes at a critical time when Block needed a victory to close the gap to current Rally America National Championship points leader, David Higgins and Craig Drew from Subaru Rally Team USA.

Block and Gelsomino were able to win 12 of 16 STPR Rally stages in their 2012 Ford Fiesta H.F.H.V. without much of the mechanical problems that have plagued the team since the beginning of the season.

“The weekend went really well,” said Block, “The first three (Rally America) events of the year went really horrible for me. I am really happy to come here at STPR and have an event with some good luck.”

Subaru-Rally-USA-5-7-13Portland, OR — Subaru Rally Team USA dominated the Oregon Trail Rally to win the third round of the Rally America National Championship held in Portland and Hood River, Oregon on May 3-5.

The British duo, David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew, never relinquished their lead from the start and drove a masterful race to establish a 2 minute window over their competition and enough breathing room to drive the last day without difficulty. However, the team nearly ended their event when Higgins struck exposed bedrock at high speeds that tore through their Subaru Impreza WRX STI suspension on stage 16. Higgins gingerly drove through the last stage of the day as the car severely pulled to one side and just made it back to service for repairs.

Salem, MO — The sudden arrival of winter ice and snow conditions could not prevent Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew from winning the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood held on February 22-23rd in Salem, Missouri. The hard fought victory gave Higgins his first 100 Acre Wood Rally victory in three attempts at one of the more slippery events in recent memory.

On the first day Higgins and Drew fell behind early to Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino and to Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard until a fateful stage 6, the first nighttime stage. Block suffered frontend damage and L’Estage retired from the event with overheating issues that left Higgins with the overall lead.

It was a disappointing withdrawal for L’Estage who hoped to build on his Championship points lead after winning the Michigan based Sno*Drift Rally in late January.

Atlanta, MI — Rockstar Energy Drink Team’s Antoine L’Estage from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and co-driver Nathalie Richard from Halifax, Nova Scotia completed a stunning come-from-behind victory at the Sno*Drift Rally held January 25-26th in Lewiston, Michigan.

Snow and ice often create large gaps between rally cars at Sno*Drift, however, L’Estage and Richard were locked in a fierce battle with Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins from Trefeglwys, Wales and Craig Drew from Forest of Dean, England, which turned into a classic battle between Mitsubishi and Subaru. Higgins and L’Estage swapped the lead twice on Friday with Higgins leading the first four stages, then L’Estage took the lead through stage 7, and Higgins gained an overnight lead of .5 seconds on the final stage of the first day. Higgins retained that lead all through the second day of Sno*Drift leading by as little as .4 seconds after stage 12 and as much as 21.3 seconds after stage 18. L’Estage took back 19.9 seconds on the penultimate stage setting up an epic finale! With 6 miles of slippery roads to go, both drivers gave it all they had. L’Estage won the stage by 7.6 seconds for a final margin of victory of 6.2 seconds over Higgins.

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.

 

Williston, VT — Much like the Oregon Trail pioneers, the 2012 Rally America National Championship will travel west to the Oregon Trail Rally for the third installment of the six-event National Championship on May 4-6th, 2012 in Portland, OR.

The Oregon Trail Rally powered by Dick Hannah Subaru begins at Portland International Raceway on Friday, May 4th before moving for the rest of the weekend to the fast gravel stages under the formidable Mt. Hood along the Columbia River Gorge.

The Oregon Trail Rally features top national and international teams mixed with the best from the Pacific Northwest.

Last year’s Oregon Trail Rally winners, Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew, seek to extend their National Championship points lead at Oregon after winning the Sno*Drift and taking second overall at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.

Officials with RallyCar, the premier sanctioning body for performance rally in North America, celebrated the closing of the 2011 Rally America National Championship with a festive awards ceremony at the beautiful Sunday River Resort. It was a fitting ending where fans, teams and organizers enjoyed food and music while the sun set over the looming ski trails.

It was a dramatic season that returned the Championship crown to Subaru after a dramatic battle all year with Mitsubishi Rockstar’s Antoine L’Estage, the Super Production Class made rally history with the inspired campaign of Travis Hanson, and another Team O’Neil Rally School instructor, Wyatt Knox, dominated the 2WD Class.

RallyCar honored the season’s accomplishments by presenting the year-end trophies to the new recipients in front of a physical and online streaming audience.

Imagine driving leisurely through the mountains of New Hampshire on a 7.6-mile, tree-lined road made of mixed gravel and pavement and punctuated with random drop-offs. Now, imagine racing up the same mountain road, sliding around corners and hugging cliffs, faster than anyone else in the 107-year history of Mt. Washington’s Climb to the Clouds.

On Sunday, June 26, 2011,  Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins needed only six minutes and 11.54 seconds to finish the famed Mt. Washington Hillclimb — nearly 30 seconds faster than Frank Sprongl’s previous record from 1998.  Higgins also beat the unofficial record of 6:20.47 set by Travis Pastrana last year.  Higgins did it sans co-driver in his Vermont SportsCar-prepped Subaru WRX STi rally car equipped with BFGoodrich RC01 Rally tires.

Below is a link to a video that captured Higgins’ record-breaking run, featuring action shots from inside and outside of the car, as well as commentary from the man himself.

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.