Sno*Drift is a performance rally that features prepared 2-wheel and 4-wheel-drive production cars on closed down timed sections of wintery roads It is the only planned snow event on the Rally America National Championship schedule attracting more than fifty domestic and international teams as well as legions of dedicated rally fans.
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.
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.
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.
Travis and Terry Hanson started the season in a history book and will end it in a family annual. On the way, the son and father duo won the 2011 Super Production title with a dominance yet seen in the Rally America National Championship.
Travis from Littleton, NH and his father/co-driver Terry from Williamsburg, MI stunned themselves and the the Rally America community with a win in the season opener at January’s Sno*Drift Rally in Michigan. It was a U.S. rally first putting the team on the top of the points standings for half the season, another U.S. rally first for a Super Production category team.
The Hansons continued to rack up top five overall finishes throughout the season to maintain third place in the championship even after Suburu Rally Team USA’s David Higgins started winning events in his faster Open category machine to take over the championship after the Oregon Trail Rally in May. The Hanson dominance in the Super Production category kept the team in the top three in overall points going into the final event of the season, the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) in Newry, Maine July 15 & 16. They’ll enter NEFR with the SP title in hand but still a brass ring to reach for.
“The SP class championship has been our main goal since the inception of the class,” said Travis Hanson, “It means the world to me to be able to win in a class that is so competitive and a true driver’s class. Having my dad as my co-driver makes this championship so special. Being able to do this with my dad makes this much more than just a championship, just a trophy, it’s a relationship that no one else has.”
Now, the Hansons can focus on defending their third place overall standing knowing that the SP Class is wrapped up. They can enjoy being the highest placing SP team since the class was introduced in 2009.
“At NEFR we have to keep doing what we have done for the whole season, be consistent, be fast and finish. If something happens to one of the top teams and we have a great race there is a chance that we could even score better than 3rd. Who knows? This is rally. Anything can happen,” says Travis Hanson.
Even with the SP championship decided there’ll still be drama in the category in New England. Second and third place in the SP Class promises to be a battle to watch in New England. Only one point separates Ramana Lagemann, Somerville, MA, in second from Lauchlin O’Sullivan, San Francisco, CA, his teammate in third place. Lagemann, in fact, is coming on strong in the second half of the season. He’s won the last two SP class events to move into second in the category.
Both Ramana and Lauchlin are experienced rally racers and very familiar with each other’s driving style and racing pedigree. They’ve faced each other as factory drivers (Ramana drove for the Subaru Rally Team USA and O’Sullivan drove for the Mitsubishi Rally Team) during the SCCA ProRally days nearly ten years ago. Now they’ll stare each other down heading into a difficult and predatory New England Forest Rally.
“Lauchlin and I are great friends,” Lagemann explained, “and after NEFR last year, we talked about how awesome it would be to compete together in the same class this season. Unfortunately that plan hasn’t really worked out. Either I’ve had car troubles or he has. But now we have a few weeks to prepare for NEFR, and we’re both looking forward to getting on those stages.”
Be sure to catch all the NEFR action on www.rally-america.com via live updates and RAM TV video reporting featuring rally action and driver interviews. You can check stage results on your mobile at m.rallyam.com or www.twitter.com/RallyCar_Series.
Travis and Terry Hanson’s Season Accomplishments:
Championship Super Production
Sno*Drift Rally 1st Overall 1st Place
100 Acre Wood Rally 4th Place 1st Place
Olympus Rally 5th Place 1st Place
Oregon Trail Rally 4th Place 2nd Place
STPR Rally 4th Place 2nd Place
Ocean Shores, WA — On Saturday, April 30th, tragedy struck the close knit rally racing community during the Olympus Rally based in Ocean Shores, WA, as 31-year-old driver Matthew Marker of Elk Rapids, MI did not survive injuries sustained in a racing accident. Marker was in his fifth year of participating in the Rally America National Championship and was a popular driver among his peers. Marker was known to have ambitions of improving his Championship standings and taking part in building the sport’s popularity.
Matthew Marker’s co-driver (the driver’s navigator), Christopher Gordon of Brooklyn Park, MN, was not seriously injured in the accident.
The crash occurred when Marker’s car went off the road on a right turn, during the 6th competitive stage of the event, impacting a tree with the driver’s side of the car. Medical personnel responded to the scene quickly, but could not resuscitate Marker. The sport of rally in North America has not had a competitor-related fatality since 2003.
Atlanta, MI — Travis and Terry Hanson win the Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Michigan, the opening round of the 2011 Rally America Championship. The Hansons piloted their 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi to victory with a huge lead of 3 minutes and 53.1 seconds over Subaru factory driver Dave Mirra, who took 2nd overall in a 2011 Impreza WRX STi with a total time of 2 hours 31 minutes and 13.6 seconds. Rounding out the overall podium was Joseph Burke, who finished only 5.2 seconds behind Mirra in a 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9.
A triumphant Hanson made U.S. rallying history today by being the first-ever Super Production class driver to win a National Rally America event outright! Even more significant, Hanson was able to accomplish this feat as a privateer with limited support.
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.