|Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard were the |
overall winners of the 2012 NEFR. Credit: Mat Janiak
The New England Forest Rally (NEFR) has been hard at work the past year improving road conditions and gaining permission from land owners to expand the race for a better fan experience and a less punishing race for the competitors. The event promises more spectator viewing options allowing fans to choose to drive to free viewing areas, purchase a Sunday River Resort shuttle pass ($10 per person on Friday and $15 per person on Saturday) to more viewing areas or take an all-inclusive catered VIP Bus to private locations.
For more information please see www.newenglandforestrally.com or download a spectator guide at www.rally-america.com.
Urgency is quickly setting in with only three more rounds left in the Rally America National Championship to score valuable points.
The two-time defending Rally America Champions, David Higgins and Craig Drew from the Subaru Rally Team USA, maintain a familiar position leading the overall points standings ahead Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino, who are currently in second place. Despite a 27 points buffer Higgins and Drew are under attack by Block and Gelsomino, who still have a mathematical chance at overtaking the Subaru team. Block needs to outright win the remaining three rounds for any chance of winning his first American title and he took a giant first step when he took his first 2013 overall win at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally on May 31-June 1.
However, repeating three-time New England Forest Rally overall winners Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard are expected back at their favorite event after suffering a dramatic Oregon Trail Rally crash in early May that nearly ended their season. The Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team pushed hard in a newly acquired 2005 WRC Mitsubishi Lancer but a costly mistake caused the team to fall down a steep embankment. The team has feverishly worked hard to acquire a new rally car to complete the Rally America National Championship. Details have not been released yet on which vehicle they will use to defend their New England Forest rally win streak.
In the Super Production (SP) Class the top three contenders in the points standings are only separated by an 8 point spread, with David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski assuming the lead at the previous Rally America round from Evan Cline and Jake Blattner. Sterckx and Jankowski have won the last two events while overcoming potentially significant mechanical problems to take the top spot and will need another win at NEFR to cement their position.
Also climbing the SP Class points ladder is Rally America’s youngest driver Mason Moyle supported by veteran co-driver John Hall. The duo jumped into second place in the SP Class standings by a single point over Cline and will have a chance at overtaking Sterckx at the NEFR Rally if he can make up the 7 point difference. But last year’s SP Class Champions, Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam are back after skipping the last Rally America round to attempt to defend their title. O’Sullivan needs to win the class at all remaining rounds for any chance of overtaking Sterckx and Moyle.
The Two-Wheel Drive (2WD) category battle heats up once again as Scion Racing Rally xD’s Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey fight to preserve their class lead from new arrivals Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth in their 2012 Ford Fiesta R2. Comrie-Picard has battled through a multitude of mechanical difficulties to win the first two events of the season and finish on the podium all year. All the while Reeves and Smyth won the first two 2WD events they entered this year at the Oregon Trail Rally and STPR Rally.
|David Higgins and Craig Drew are the current |
leaders in this year's Rally America National
Championship. Credit Mat Janiak
Reeves also threatens fellow Ford Fiesta drivers, Dillon Van Way and co-driver Andrew Edwards, who currently holds second place in the 2WD standings by only 5 points over Reeves. Van Way has improved his performance this season to finish on three of four podiums and is expected to fight hard to hold his position.
The 2WD Class becomes even more unpredictable with the entry of Australia’s Will Orders and Toni Feaver in a 2013 Toyota GT86. Orders and Feaver won the 2WD category at the 2012 NEFR Rally and is an instant contender in the only rally prepared Toyota GT86 known to exist.
Fans are welcome to attend the New England Forest Rally’s Parc Expose at the Sunday River Resort to visit with teams before heading to their viewing locations. Friday’s Parc Expose begins at 9:00am and Saturday at 7:30am.
Following each competition day the Sunday River Resort will host a Rally Village BBQ and awards party on Friday at 6:30pm and Saturday at 7:30pm.
Download a New England Forest Rally free spectator guide at www.rally-america.com for viewing locations, schedules and maps.
Rally America is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Ford Racing, VP Racing Fuels, Honda Development Research, GrimmSpeed, Exedy Racing Clutches and Teleblend.