NEWRY, Maine – The Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team of Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard won their third consecutive Rally America New England Forest Rally (NEFR) Sunday.
The team won the first six stages and took a commanding lead. As their rivals dealt with thickening dust that obstructed their views L’Estage contended with poor grip, sweeping away the gravel before the others had a chance to race the stage.
“It went really well,” said L’Estage, “Friday is where we made our time and then tried to keep our nose clean and not make any mistakes. For us it’s a great win and another great season.”
L’Estage and Richard are on a string of success having recently won the last two Rally America national events and all the Canadian Rally Championship events this year.
“Since May we’ve had a fantastic season,” said Richard. “Too bad we had problems at the beginning of the Rally America season.”
The Rockstar Energy Drink commanded the rally from their dominant position to win 21 seconds in front of the Subaru Rally Team USA of David Higgins and Craig Drew.
The Subaru team has much to celebrate after locking up the 2012 Rally America National Championship at the New England Forest Rally with one more national event left on the calendar. The pair just needed a sixth place or better finish to take national honors. This is Higgins and Drew’s second consecutive Rally America National Championship.
“The first day of New England was pretty horrible,” said Higgins. “Dust breaks your rhythm all the time. You go flat out in sixth gear then you hit a cloud of dust. The organizers did a great job rescheduling the rally the next day. It’s a great team effort and a big relief to put this Championship in the bag.”
Another first was made when Canadian Rally Championship (CRC) regular Ugo Desgreniers and Erik Kirby took their first America podium coming in third overall in their 2005 Subaru WRX STI.
They achieved the result partly due to another CRC contender Leonid Urlichich and Carl Williamson dumping their Subaru into a swamp on stage 7 when they held third overall, thus giving the position to Desgreniers.
Ramana Lagemann and co-driver Chrissie Beavis won the Super Production (SP) Class after overcoming numerous problems to finish 3 minutes 55 seconds ahead of David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski.
“Honestly, it was a battle with a short rally course,” said Lagemenn. So many cars had problems but we had less. We never pushed 100% and had two tire punctures. We are glad to finish our season with a win.”
Current Super Production class points leader Lauchlin O’Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam took third in class. The team hasn’t locked up the SP class championship yet, but made a big stride when their closest rival Travis Hanson and Terry Hanson crashed out on the first stage of the day. The Hansons’ retirement left O’Sullivan a huge opening to gain a larger points spread at this event.
The Two-Wheel Drive (2WD) Class was as exciting as promised with Australia’s Summit Rally Team winning the class. Will Orders and co-driver Toni Feaver entered just three Rally America events this year and won two.
The team will leave for Australia after the New England Forest Rally, but not after placing an exclamation point beating one of America’s best 2WD drivers, Chris Duplessis, by 41.6 seconds at his home event.
Duplessis instead has a larger prize in mind; the 2WD National Championship. Duplessis hoped to win this event so he could just start the next round of the Rally America National Championship to capture the title (one point is given for a start). Now he needs five more points to take the 2WD title.
Amazingly Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey tied third place in class with the Summit Rally Team’s other driver, Ross Allan and Scott Allan with a time of 1:22:19.2. However, third place championship points were awarded to Comrie-Picard for winning more NEFR stages than Allan, who was awarded fourth place points in class.
Comrie-Picard’s third place keeps him in the 2WD Championship hunt at the Olympus Rally in Olympia, Wash., Sept. 22-23. He’ll need to win his class in order to take the 2WD title.
Maciej Przybysz and Carrie Wilburn won the Main Regional Rally on Friday, July 13th in their 2006 Subaru Impreza. Martin Egan and Jarrah Lankas took the New Hampshire Regional Rally win in their 2002 Subaru Impreza STI.
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