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.

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.

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

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.

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.