Last Ditch Racing, defending 2007 Rally America Eastern Open Class Champions, took the overall and Open Class wins in both the Mexico Regional Rally and the Berlin Regional Rally at last weekend New England Forest Rally. Their performance was enough to earn them a fifth place overall in the national portion of the event, after starting 16th. The team set several top 10 stage times and set personal team records on seven stages. The New England Forest Rally, held in Western Maine and parts of New Hampshire, is Round 6 of the 2008 Rally America National Championship and regarded as one of the roughest and difficult events in the Championship.

The team began 2008 by taking the overall win at the Team O’Neil Rally in New Hampshire in icy conditions. The team continued on their winning streak by taking an award for the longest jump at the recent Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs in Quebec and finishing 10th overall in the national event. The recent wins at the New England Forest Rally give the team a commanding lead in the Rally America Eastern Regional Rally Championship.

Driver John Cassidy and co-driver Dave Getchell drove a tidy and quick event and brought their 2003 Subaru Impreza WRX STi home relatively unscathed. Said Cassidy, “This result is the equivalent of a win for us. To be 5th overall after a past production car world rally champion and two series contenders is amazing. Maine is known as a rough event and this year was no exception. We kept out of the scenery and had only one puncture, with the tire going flat after we were done with the stage. Dave and I were at the top of our game and reached a new level of performance in the car. We were definitely pushing and this is an event we’ll remember for a long time!”

Some not familiar with the team were surprised with their impressive finish, but Cassidy expects more of the same in their remaining events this season. “We really struggled with development of our current car early on, leading to some poor finishes and a season where we went from fourth in the Championship to not scoring any points at all. Since last fall, we’ve hit our stride with the car and recent additions to our service crew have bolstered our confidence.”

The team had close battles with Dave Mirra and Jeff Moyle, both piloting Subaru STi’s prepared by Vermont Sportscar. “The cars we were racing are quite advanced relative to ours. Our ace in the hole was our experience and perhaps our advancing age! Both Dave and Jeff were right there throughout the event and our ability to avoid drama put us in a position to take 5th. On the final stage, we caught two cars near the end and literally had to stop in the thick dust because we just couldn’t see the road. Mirra told me when he came through he didn’t have any dust to contend with and that made me worry that he had perhaps caught us. He took 30 seconds out of us, but it wasn’t enough and we held station.”

The Maine Forest Rally 1999 was Cassidy’s first event in a Honda CRX. “The team has made obvious significant strides over the last 9 years. We’ve still got plenty of room for improvement, but our hard work over the years as a privateer team is starting to pay dividends when we achieve a result like this. To have our career best finish at home after such a long time in the sport is a dream come true. It definitely fuels us to strive for bigger things in the future. We’ve been asked recently if we’d consider a full US national schedule next year, and while we’d love to do that, we’d need far more external support to do it properly. TIme will tell!” The team’s next event will be the Rallye Defi-St. Agathe in Quebec, Canada.

John and Dave would like to thank their crew for their hard work and support, both on and off event: Bronson Crothers, Duncan Matlack, Ken Anctil, Drew Simpson, John Cassidy V and Rob Sockalexis.

Last Ditch Racing would like to thank their 2008 Partners for their support:

Triple Caution, LLC, http://www.triplecaution.us
Hydra EMS, http://www.hydraems.com
Team O’Neil Rally School, http://www.teamoneil.com

For more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit: http://www.lastditchracing.com
To Purchase Last Ditch Racing Gear, please visit: http://www.cafepress.com/lastditchracing
For more information on the New England Forest Rally, please visit: http://newenglandforestrally.com/
For more information on the Rallye Defi-St. Agathe, please visit: http://www.rallyedefi.com/

Photos Copyright Onalimbracing.com/Pete Kuncis 2008

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