The Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team of Antoine L’Estage from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and co-driver Nathalie Richard from Halifax, Nova Scotia won their third consecutive New England Forest Rally (NEFR). The team won the first six stages and took a commanding lead. As their rivals dealt with thickening dust that obstructed their views L’Estage contended with poor grip being the first on the road, sweeping away the gravel before the others had a chance to race the stage.
“It went really well,” said L’Estage, “Friday is where we made our time and then tried to keep our nose clean and not make any mistakes. For us it’s a great win and another great season.”
L’Estage and Richard are on a string of success having recently won the last two Rally America national events and all the Canadian Rally Championship events this year.
Says Co-driver Nathalie Richard, “Since May we’ve had a fantastic season. Too bad we had problems at the beginning of the Rally America season. Congrats to Higgins and Drew. Looking forward to 2013!”
The Rockstar Energy Drink commanded the rally from their dominant position to win 21 seconds in front of the Subaru Rally Team USA of David Higgins from Trefeglwys, Mid Wales and Craig Drew from Bristol, UK,
But the Subaru team has much to celebrate after locking up the 2012 Rally America National Championship at the New England Forest Rally with one more national event left on the calendar. The pair just needed a sixth place or better finish to take national honors. This is Higgins and Drew’s second consecutive Rally America National Championship.
“The first day of New England was pretty horrible,” said Higgins, “Dust breaks your rhythm all the time. You go flat out in sixth gear then you hit a cloud of dust. The organizers did a great job rescheduling the rally the next day. It’s a great team effort and a big relief to put this Championship in the bag.”
Another first was made when Canadian Rally Championship (CRC) regular Ugo Desgreniers from Orford, Quebec and Erik Kirby from Sherbrooke, Quebec took their first America podium coming in third overall in their 2005 Subaru WRX STI. They achieved the result partly due to another CRC contender Leonid Urlichich and Carl Williamson dumping their Subaru into a swamp on stage 7 when they held third overall, thus giving the position to Desgreniers.
Ramana Lagemann from Somerville, MA and co-driver Chrissie Beavis from San Diego, CA won the Super Production (SP) Class after overcoming numerous problems to finish 3 minutes 55 seconds ahead of David Sterckx from Santa Ana, CA and Karen Jankowski from San Marcos, CA.
Lagemenn added, “Honestly, it was a battle with a short rally course. So many cars had problems but we had less. We never pushed 100% and had two tire punctures. We are glad to finish our season with a win.”
Current Super Production class points leader Lauchlin O’Sullivan from San Francisco, CA and co-driver Scott Putnam from Minneapolis, MN took third in class. The team hasn’t locked up the SP class championship yet, but made a big stride when their closest rival Travis Hanson from Woodsville, NH, and Terry Hanson from Williamsburg, MI crashed out on the first stage of the day. The Hansons’ retirement left O’Sullivan a huge opening to gain a larger points spread at this event.
The Two-Wheel Drive (2WD) Class was as exciting as promised with Australia’s Summit Rally Team winning the class. Will Orders from Melbourne, Australia and co-driver Toni Feaver from Perth, Australia entered just three Rally America events this year and won two. The team will leave for Australia after the New England Forest Rally, but not after placing an exclamation point beating one of America’s best 2WD drivers, Chris Duplessis, by 41.6 seconds at his home event.
Duplessis from Mason Township, ME instead has a larger prize in mind; the 2WD National Championship. Duplessis hoped to win this event so he could just start the next round of the Rally America National Championship to capture the title (one point is given for a start). Now he needs five more points to take the 2WD title.
Amazingly Andrew Comrie-Picard from Hermosa Beach, CA and Jeremy Wimpey from College State, PA tied third place in class with the Summit Rally Team’s other driver, Ross Allan from Melbourne, Australia and Scott Allan from Upper Beaconsfield, Australia with a time of 1:22:19.2. However, third place championship points were awarded to Comrie-Picard for winning more NEFR stages than Allan, who was awarded fourth place points in class.
Comrie-Picard’s third place keeps him in the 2WD Championship hunt at the Olympus Rally in Olympia, WA on September 22-23rd. He’ll need to win his class in order to take the 2WD title.
Maciej Przybysz from New Bedord, MA and Carrie Wilburn from York, PA won the Main Regional Rally on Friday, July 13th in their 2006 Subaru Impreza. Martin Egan from Quincy, MA and Jarrah Lankas from Hull, MA took the New Hampshire Regional Rally win in their 2002 Subaru Impreza STI.
New England Forest Rally results: http://rally-america.com/events/2012/NEFR/results/
New England Forest Rally photos: http://rally-america.com/events/2012/NEFR/gallery/photo/
About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, the premier performance rally series in the United States. In 2012, Rally America will be conducting six National Championship events at venues across the country, from Seattle, Washington to Newry, Maine. Rally America competitors reach speeds of well over 100 mph in modified street cars on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt or snow. More information about the Rally America National Championship and the sport of rally can be found at http://www.rally-america.com.
2012 New England Forest Rally Winners, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard.
David Higgins and Craig Drew: 2012 Rally America National Champions.
Ramana Lagemann and Chrissie Beavis, Super Producation Class Winners.
Will Orders and Toni Feaver, 2WD Class Winners.
All photos by Mat Janiak