Saturday, May 25, 2013

Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® reaches 37th year

As the oldest, continuously-running motorsports event in the state of Pennsylvania, the 2013 Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® (STPR®), presented by Citizens and Northern Bank is back for its 37th running May 31 – June 1, 2013 in Wellsboro, Penn.

The STPR event, which is round four of the seven events that form the Rally America National Championship, is organized by a unique rally organizing committee, based in both Wellsboro and Rochester, N.Y., to change the rally every year to keep it fresh and relevant.

The rally, promoted by the Finger Lakes STPR® Motorsports LLC committee, is chaired by Meridith Croucher, from Newark, N.Y. (Rochester area), and she reports the committee is pleased that, despite recent economic conditions that have reduced or cancelled other motorsports events, STPR continues to be a multi-million dollar contributor to the economy in North Central Pennsylvania.

“This has become a very popular family event, especially with the Fairground stages, where kids can get up close to the rally cars, meet the drivers, enjoy some refreshments, and then watch the cars battle on a closed course for competitive times and a chance to win the event,” she said, “but others like to go into the woods and watch the cars, view the cars on display at the town Green, or take advantage of our VIP package to be escorted to the best viewing areas."

“With a strong schedule of seven forest races around the country for the 2013 Rally America National Championship, our position as round number four is pivotal for all classes of competitors,” Ms. Croucher added.

The Fairgrounds stages cost five dollars for admission each day (with a five dollar donation to a local church youth organization for parking), with event tickets on sale in advance at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce (info at 570-724-1926).

More than 40 race cars, the infusion of millions of dollars to local area businesses rivaling a national convention, and Rally America championship points chase all highlight the arrival of STPR® to the state forests near the  Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, again announcing the coming of spring in Tioga County.

Citizens & Northern Bank, Waste Management return

With Waste Management, plus Citizens and Northern Bank and the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce sponsorship of the event helping to defray overhead expenses, the  STPR® Committee is able to offer the rally to the area at little or no cost to the community. Besides the 400 volunteers who work the rally – many of whom come in from out of town and use local services - another estimated 10,000 people come to the Wellsboro area either as spectators or workers for the various teams and their sponsors.

What is STPR® and Performance Rally?

The Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally was first conducted by the Finger Lakes Region, SCCA in 1977, with the assistance of members of other sports car clubs in the Rochester, N.Y area.  Members of these clubs (Triumph Touring Club, Corvair Owners Club, MG Car Club and others) had experience with previous performance events such as the Snowblower and Lunar Lunge which ran out of Rochester as early as 1965 and were part of the M.O.N.Y. series (Michigan, Ohio and New York), the forerunner of the SCCA ProRally series.

Chris Greenhouse at STPR 12. Photo/Nate Michels
In the United States, performance rally teams have a driver and co-driver (or navigator) for each car, and the competitors race in segments (or stages) on closed public roads, trying to get from the beginning to the end of the stage as fast as they can.  Unlike other forms of motorsports, there is no practice allowed, and teams are only allowed one pass to review the course at the public speed limit before the event. In competition, the navigator then barks out the route instructions while the drive proceeds – sometimes at speeds exceeding 100 miles-per-hour – through forest, desert, and logging around at events around the country.  The cars, all street legal to allow driving on public roads between racing stages, are compact and sub-compact cars with varying amounts of performance modifications depending on the class they are running in.  The sight of these cars, running at speed through the woods to beat the clock, makes exciting spectating for the fans who come out to watch performance rally.

STPR® was the last of the great endurance events on the national schedule maintaining the one day format and is designed with a high stage/transit mileage ratio and, thanks to the outstanding cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), some of the best and most demanding roads in the country. With the additional of the Waste Management stages and the Fairgrounds, the Rally went to two days in 2008.

The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® presented by Citizens and Northern Bank, round #4 of the 2013 Rally America National Championship, is approximately 280 miles long with approximately 127 miles of competitive stages. The Sherwood Forest Rally is a Regional Rally, coefficient 2, which includes Stages One through Seven and is approximately 52 miles. The Finger Lakes Rally is a Regional Rally, coefficient 3, which includes Stages Eight through Fourteen and is approximately 71 miles. Both the Regional Rallies are part of Rally America’s Eastern Regional Rally Championship.

In 2008, STPR® changed to a new two-day format to better utilize new competitive content, and give spectators more daylight viewing options. The Super Special Stages at the Tioga County Fairgrounds will once again run once on Friday and once on Saturday. STPR® has six spectator locations to show the sport to maximum advantage in all its exciting aspects to the public and media.

VIP Super Pass Back for 2013

On Friday afternoon with the Waste Management stages, where VIP Super Pass spectators will be escorted to a private viewing area, those lucky participants can get a view of the action previously reserved only for the working media. Food and drinks will be served, and VIP Super Pass holders will receive special rally mementos. Bring your camera for even better photos than before.

Bus transportation will be provided to and from the Fairgrounds.  All this for only $50.00 per person – kids are not free, as the number of VIP Super Passes are limited.  Only a few tickets remain - you can purchase them at the Wellsboro Chamber of Commerce until May 30.  Call 570-724-1926 for additional information.

* * *

Here is a look at the results of the Oregon Trail rally held earlier this month, as well as a look back to last year’s STPR event.

Higgins, Drew Lead Championship in 2013; L’Estage, Richard Out for the Season

Current Rally America National Championship points leaders David Higgins and Craig Drew are fresh from winning the last two rounds at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and Oregon Trail Rally. The duo hailing from Wales, UK seek to extend their win streak at STPR as they attempt to lock up their third Rally America title.

Antoine L’Estage from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and co-driver Nathalie Richard from Halifax, Nova Scotia, last year’s STPR winners, will not be entered to defend their title as a crash at Oregon Trail earlier this month destroyed their car. But late word is that both Nathalie and Antoine will attend the STPR event, with Antoine signing autographs on the Green on Friday afternoon, and Nathalie co-driving for Verena Mei in Group 2 in a Ford Fiesta.

Internet rally driver sensation and Hoonigan Racing driver, Ken Block with co-driver Alex Gelsomino, assumed second place in the standings following the last round and are expected to push hard at STPR to make ground on Higgins.
Indonesian newcomer, Rifat Sungkar, impressed in his America debut at the Oregon Trail Rally by taking third place overall. Sungkar confirmed that he will stay in his Open Class Mitsubishi EVO X and will be an instant podium contender despite never having raced at STPR before.

The STPR Rally will prove to be a redefining event for the Super Production Class teams. Current class leaders, Evan Cline and Jake Blattner, will not contest the event which leaves their position vulnerable to a second place David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski. Sterckx has recently gained momentum after winning the class at the Oregon Trail Rally, and a win at STPR could give Sterckx his first ever class lead.

The Two-Wheel Drive Class (2WD) was dominated by Scion Racing’s Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey at the beginning of the season, but Australian newcomers Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth snatched the class win at the Oregon Trail Rally. Reeves impressed by winning over second place finisher, Dillon Van Way, and placed fifth overall.

Comrie-Picard continues to lead the 2WD standings and managed to overcome a number of mechanical problems to place third at Oregon, but he is most certainly eyeing STPR to reestablish his dominance for a hard push to potentially secure his first 2WD title.

Behind Comrie-Picard more 2WD drivers are in position to leap-frog over each other as only second place through four place is separated by a spread of four points. Unfortunately, 2012 Rookie of the Year’s Edward McNelly plans to skip STPR in favor of the next round, the New England Forest Rally, leaving fellow rivals Chris Greenhouse and Dillon Van Way an opportunity to add more valuable points.

L’Estage/Richard Won 2012 STPR 

Antoine L’Estage from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and co-driver Nathalie Richard from Halifax, Nova Scotia won the 2012 Waste Management Susquehannock Performance Trail Rally presented by Citizen’s and North Bank held in Wellsboro, Pa. June 1-2, 2012.

L’Estage and Richard in their 2011 Mitsubishi EVO X led the rally from the start after his chief rival Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew suffered a gearbox problem in their 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI that pushed the team down as far as 13th overall.

It then became a battle to the finish between the Rockstar team and Can-Jam Motorsports’ Leonid “Crazy Leo” Urlichich from Thornhill, Ontario and Carl Williamson from Ammanford, UK. L’Estage amazingly survived major overheating problems through the first day and managed to stay ahead of Crazy Leo by a mere 8.8 seconds.
L’Estage changed his engine overnight and both teams battled hard the next day to stay within a minute of each other until stage 12 when L’Estage started placing time over Urlichich. L’Estage finished 1:15.1 ahead of Urlichich.

“It’s a great win. We changed the engine, so it was a team win” said L’Estage, “Mathematically, I have a shot at the Rally America title, so it’s not over yet.”

L’Estage had having a great run since failing to finish the first two Rally America events. He won the Canadian Rally Championship’s Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary, Alberta the previous week and followed up with an STPR Rally win a week later. It was L’Estage’s third STPR Rally win having taken the top spot in 2008 and 2010.

Lauchlin O’Sullivan from San Francisco, Calif., and co-driver Scott Putnam from Minneapolis, Minn., took an impressive win in the Super Production (SP) Class by only 14.1 seconds over the 2011 SP Class STPR Rally winner, Ramana Lagemann and Chrissie Beavis. This was O’Sullivan’s second SP Class win having won the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Salem, Mo.

Ramana Lagemann from Somerville, Ma., and Chrissie Beavis from San Diego, Calif., took second place in the SP Class followed by 2011 SP Class winner, Travis Hanson from Woodsville, N.H. and co-driver Terry Hanson from Williamsburg, Mi., running 4:46.6 behind.

The much anticipated battle between Two-Wheel-Drive (2WD) American driver, Chris Duplessis from Bethlehem, N.H., and co-driver Alex Kihurani from Philadelphia, Pa., and the Summit Rally Team ‘s top drivers, Will Orders from Melbourne, Australia and co-driver Toni Feaver from Perth, Australia finally occurred at the STPR Rally.

This was the first meeting between the top 2WD teams and Orders immediately placed time on Duplessis. It appeared that Orders was going to walk away with a win, but his 1989 Nissan Silvia began losing oil on the first leg of day two before retiring at the second service with electrical misfires.

"Because Orders had issues with the motor, we took over the lead, happily, and held on," Duplessis said.

He added they only finished the car on Thursday, arriving too late to run the course reconnaissance prior to the event start.

Chris Greenhouse from Cincinnati, Ohio, with co-driver Brian Johnson from Bethel, Ct., returned to the 2WD Class podium in a newly acquired 2003 Dodge Neon SRT4. They won the STPR 2WD Class last year and took third in class at this year’s running.

2013 Rally America Overall Championship standings – after three events

Place Name Hometown Points
1 David Higgins Trefeglwys, N/A 61
2 Ken Block Park City, UT 26
3 Antoine L'Estage St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC 24
4 David Sterckx Los Angeles, CA 23
5 Evan Cline Brighton, MI 21
6 Joseph Burke Powder Springs, GA 17
7 Adam Yeoman Hancock, MI 16
8 Lauchlin O'Sullivan San Francisco, CA 15
9 Rifat Sungkar Jakarta, N/A 14
9 Leonid Urlichich Thornhill, ON 14
11 Andrew Comrie-Picard West Hollywood, CA 14
12 Ugo Desgreniers Orford, QC 12
13 Brendan Reeves Wedderburn, N/A 10
14 Dillon Van Way Carencro, LA 10
15 Peter Fetela Hanover Park, IL 9
16 Mason Moyle Houghton, MI 9
17 Chris Greenhouse Cincinnati, OH 9
17 Brent Hercelinsky San Diego, CA 9
19 Dave Henderson Hood River, OR 8
20 Edward McNelly Oxford, ME 7

STPR Internet/Social Media Links

Rally America  **
** Entry list and results available on both websites.

 Entry list (as of May 24, 2013)

1, 311, R, Open Light, 1995 Subaru Impreza, Simon Wright, Kieran Wright
2, 550, R, Open Light, 2001 Subaru Impreza, Justin Pritchard, Ryan Scott
3, 348, R, Production, 2011 Ford Fiesta, John Concha, John Duran
4, 11, R, Group 2, 1994 BMW e36, Matt Brandenburg, Brian Huntsbarger
5, 77, N, Open, 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution X, Viorel Dobasu, Karl Atkinson
6, 331, R, Open, 2008 Subaru STi, Jeffrey Reamer, Jeremy Jankowske
7, 425, N, Open, 2007 Subaru WRX STI, Adam Yeoman, Jordan Schulze
8, 35, R, Open Light, 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS, Mark Piatkowski, Robert Maciejski
9, 554, R, Open Light, 1999 Subaru Impreza, Jeremy Keck, James Quattro
10, 165, N, Open, 1996 Subaru OBSTi, Ryan Wilcox, James Beliveau
11, 853, R, Open Light, 1998 Subaru Impreza 2.5RS, Amanda Skelly, Derrick Rudisel
12, 319, N, Group 5, 2003 Dodge Neon SRT4, Chris Greenhouse, Billy Mann
13, 648, R, Group 2, 2001 Ford Focus ZX3, Anthony Concha, Mark Tisdel
14, 19, N, Super Production, 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Timothy Penasack, Marc Goldfarb
15, 63, R, Group 2, 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer, Scott Harvey, Brian Arpke
16, 716, R, Group 5, 1994 Jeep Cherokee, Jim Perrin, Lee McElhinny
17, 101, R, Group 2, 2001 Mazda Protege, Joshua Baker, Philip Weary
18, 910, R, Group 2, 2000 Ford Focus, Keith Liggett, Scott Beliveau
19, 72, R, Group 2, 1993 Honda Civic, Randy Deaton, Rex Deffenbaugh
20, 71, R, Open, 2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX, Michelle Laframboise, Dean Hopkins
21, 377, N, Super Production, 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, Mason Moyle, John Hall
22, 848, R, Open Light, 2000 Subaru Impreza 2.5rs, Brian McNamara, Amber Stacy
23, 773, R, Group 2, 2003 Mini Cooper, Markus Saarinen, Jason Gardy
24, 167, R, Group 2, 2013 Ford Fiesta, Danny Grant, 
25, 717, R, Group 2, 1986 VW Golf, Corey Kline, Benjamin Brown
26, 34, R, Super Production, 2006 Subaru Impreza STI, Martin Egan, Jarrah Lankas
27, 127, NR, Super Production, 2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX, Alvin Fong, William Machin
28, 777, R, Open Light, 1993 Subaru Impreza, Jon Kramer, Adam Kimmett
29, 501, R, Overall, , Justin Carven, Geoff Clark
30, 87, R, Open Light, 2000 Subaru Impreza RS, Alex Kuklov, Natalia Kuklova
31, 106, N, Group 2, 2012 Ford Fiesta R2, Brendan Reeves, Rhianon Smyth
32, 573, R, Group 2, 2008 Honda Civic Si, Paul Martino, Brian Penza
33, 902, N, Production, 2009 Honda Fit, James Robinson, Jordan Guitar
34, 242, R, Group 2, 1970 Volkswagen Beetle, Mark Huebbe, John Huebbe
35, 99, N, Super Production, 2007 Subaru Impreza, Garry Gill, Paddy Robinson
36, 824, N, Group 2, 2002 Ford Focus, Cameron Steely, Billy Irvin
37, 944, R, Group 2, 1987 Porsche 944, Charles Tameris, Anthony Zanni
38, 236, N, Open, 2011 Mitsubishi EVO 10, Rifat Sungkar, Marshall Clarke
39, 43, N, Open, 2012 Ford Fiesta H.F.H.V, Ken Block, Alessandro Gelsomino
40, 198, N, Open, 2006 Mitsubishi EVO IX, Arkadiusz Gruszka, Lukasz Wronski
41, 132, R, Open Light, 1995 Toyota Celica, Steve Czwalga, Steven Czwalga
42, 20, N, Group 5, 2012 Scion xD, Andrew Comrie-Picard, Jeremy Wimpey
43, 375, R, Group 2, 2012 Ford Fiesta, Panos Karpidas, Christine Beavis
44, 699, R, Group 5, 1975 Saab 99, Luke Sorensen, Seth Strait
45, 482, R, Group 2, 1991 Nissan Sentra SE-R, Gustavo Garrido, Ozgur Simsek
46, 94, N, Open, 1998 Subaru Impreza STi, Peter Fetela, Ray Vambuts
47, 699, R, Group 5, 1975 Saab 99, Luke Sorensen, Seth Strait
48, 253, R, Group 2, 1994 Honda Civic, Matthew Peterson, Matt Campbell
49, 22, R, Group 2, 1992 Volkswagen Golf GTI, Troy Miller, Steven Harrell
50, 80, N, Open, 2000 Mitsubishi EVO, Jon Kemp, Brian Maxwell
51, 40, R, Group 2, 1993 Honda civic, Gary Donoghue, David Dooley
52, 202, N, Open, 2003 Subaru WRX, Nick Roberts, Jake Blattner
53, 335, N, Group 2, 2011 Ford Fiesta, Verena Mei, Nathalie Richard
54, 14, N, Super Production, 2011 Subaru STI, David Sterckx, Karen Jankowski
55, 75, N, Open, 2013 Subaru WRX STI, David Higgins, Craig Drew
56, 175, N, Group 2, 2012 Ford Fiesta R2, Brent Hercelinsky, Peter Watt
57, 30, N, Open, 2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX, George Plsek, Alexander Kihurani
58, 600, N, Group 5, 2011 Ford Fiesta, Dillon Van Way, Andrew Edwards