Story and Photos by Thomas Barker

Antoine L’Estage/Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X) finished their season as Rally America national champions with a repeat win in the New England Forest Rally. They were pleased to reach the final checkpoint with 48 seconds in hand over David Higgins/Craig Drew (Subaru Impreza WRX STI). But one can understand that they would have been happier at the awards ceremony if they had also repeated as champions. L’Estage was philosophical: “We’re competing against a factory team,” he said, “and getting nearly the same result for a fraction of the budget.” (Note: No, you don’t misunderstand. It was mid-July and this was the last of six rounds of the Rally America series.)

Higgins/Drew and the Subaru Rally Team USA squad had exactly the rally that they needed in Maine. After three event wins, they could lock up the title with a fourth or better overall. They shadowed L’Estage/Richard all weekend, content with second, rarely taking a fastest time on a special stage, and took home the championship trophies. (Higgins’ teammates Dave Mirra/Marshall Clarke were absent from New England. Mirra’s Subie was too badly worn after the Susquehannock Trail Rally to do another event without a rebuild. And at the time the crew was too busy preparing rallycross cars for Higgins, Mirra, and Travis Pastrana for the X Games, a mere two weeks later, as well as turning around Higgins’ Mount Washington Hillclimb winning car to take the rally series. Even champion mechanics have their limits.)

The son/father team of Travis and Terry Hanson (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) placed third overall and first in Super Production, surviving the engine’s large thirst for coolant and serious rock damage to the oil pan. (The service crew needed the entire 30-minute service break after the oil pan damage to repair and re-weld it.) They finished with seven seconds in hand over Tom Lawless/Alexander Kihurani (Open class Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8). Evan Cline/Grzegorz Dorman (Subaru Impreza WRX) were second in Super Production, but back in ninth overall, while rivals Ramana Lagemann/Christine Beavis (Subaru Impreza WRX STI) went out with a misfiring engine.

Chris Duplesis/Karl Atkinson (Group 2 Ford Fiesta R2) placed fifth overall and best among the two wheel drive cars – also winner of the MaxAttack! series (2WD) rally within the rally. 3-1/2 minutes back, Andrew Comrie-Picard/Jeremy Wimpey (Group 5 Scion XD) seemed satisfied with second in 2WD after suffering a broken clutch, failed third gear, broken shift cable, and exhaust pipe failure. Dillon Van Way/Jake Blattner (Group 5 Ford Fiesta) were third 2WD, almost five minutes further back, despite rock damage to the exhaust. On the other hand, some of the 2WD heavy-hitters went out early; Doug Shepherd/Karen Jankowski (Group 5 Dodge SRT-4) with a broken front strut and bent frame on Friday and Michael Reilly/Josh Benthien (Group 5 Ford Focus) with a broken driveshaft on Saturday morning.

The Ford contingent was one of the largest present, with four cars in the national and several more running the regional or MaxAttack events. They were split between the Focus entrants whom Ford had cultivated in previous years, and the Fiesta teams who are the (pardon the expression) focus of the blue oval company’s grassroots effort now, all looking very slick and well-prepared.

Jason Smith/Jared Lantzy won the regional Errol Rally, which included only the second day’s stages. Mark Piatkowski/Robert Maciejski placed second, two minutes back. Both of them were in Open Light class Subaru Imprezas. Also in a Light class Impreza, Tracey Gardner/Maureen Hascher placed twelfth, the best result for an all-woman team.

National Results:
1. Antoine L’Estage/Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, Open class)
2. David Higgins/ Craig Drew (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Open)
3. Travis Hanson/Terry Hanson (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Super Production), engine consuming coolant, oil pan damage
4. Tom Lawless/Alexander Kihurani (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8, Open)
5. Chris Duplesis/K. Atkinson (Group 2 Ford Fiesta R2, Group 2)
6. Andrew Comrie-Picard/Jeremy Wimpey (Scion XD, Group 5), clutch, transmission, exhaust problems
7. Adam Yeoman/Jordan/Schulze (Subaru Impreza, Open)
8. Dillon Van Way/Jake Blattner (Group 5 Ford Fiesta), exhaust damage
9. Evan Cline/Grzegorz Dorman (Subaru Impreza WRX, Super Production)
10. Viorel Dobasu/Dominik Jozwiak (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, Open)
11. Andrew Wickline/Steve Kurey (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Super Production)
12. Brian Gottlieb/Patrick Darrow (Honda Civic, Group 2)
13. Justin Carven/Geoff Clark (Volkswagen Rabbit turbo diesel, Group 5)
DNF. Garry Gill/Benjamin Slocum (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Super Production), oil
DNF. Wyatt Knox/Ole Holter (Mazdaspeed 3, Group 5), fire
DNF. Heath Nunnemacher/Mike Rossey (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.5 MR, Open), off
DNF. Lauchlin O’Sullivan/Scott Putnam (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Super Production), blown turbocharger
DNF. Tingwu Song/Yuseng Hao (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10, Open), oil problems
DNF. Cameron Steely/Josh Buller (Ford Focus, Group 2)
DNF. Ramana Lagemann/Christine Beavis (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Super Production), misfire
DNF. Joseph Burke/Martin Brady (Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Open), turbocharger failure
DNF. Phillip McGee/Josh Dampier (Geo Metro, Group 5), clutch
DNF. Mason Moyle/Gary Barton (Subaru Impreza, Open), transmission

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