The top rally drivers on the continent are set to take on the rugged forest terrain of Maine and New Hampshire when the Rally America National Championship Series moves to the East Coast for the New England Forest Rally on July 11 and 12.

Heading into Round 6, the top three drivers in the series are separated by just three points and it is expected to be an exciting battle.

Andrew Comrie-Picard is leading the standings in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. One point behind is Subaru Rally Team USA’s Travis Pastrana in his Subaru WRX STi, with Ken Block another two points behind him.

In addition to the 2008 Rally America National Championship title, New England Forest Rally competitors are vying for the Last Chance Qualifier entry into X Games 14, to be held in Los Angeles this August 3rd.

The event’s top-finishing driver who has not already earned an invitation to the X Games will earn the coveted last-chance spot.

Among the contenders for the final position are Rockstar Energy’s Andy Pinker, who is sitting in 11th overall in the standings after being dogged by mechanical trouble all season.

Wildcard driver Niall McShea, a former Production World Rally Champion, will also be a contender. The Irish driver has yet to battle the current crop of Rally America competitors, but it’s expected he has the talent to walk away with a win.

For the third consecutive year, rally racing will be featured in the Summer X Games, with the first six races of the 2007 Rally America season serving as qualifying events for the popular action-sport competition.

Already confirmed as invited X Games drivers are: Tanner Foust, Ken Block and Travis Pastrana — the three medalists from last year’s race — and Andrew Comrie-Picard, Matthew Johnson, Antoine L’Estage, Kyle Sarasin, Patrick Moro, and Nathan Conley. Two others will be selected from the rally community at large.

Challenging logging roads with some of the longest stages on the circuit set the tone for the New England Forest Rally. Always a favorite with drivers due to the technical demands of the course, this rally is also a crowd pleaser because of its stunning scenery and wildlife.

Rally car racing is considered the extreme sport of automobile racing and is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads.

Six vehicle classes, ranging from stock to highly modified, compete under the Rally America banner. Eleven different automobile manufacturers are represented in Rally America events, led by Subaru, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen.

Based in Golden Valley, Minn., Rally America sanctions the premier rally racing series in the United States, the Rally America National Championship Series.

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