Three Rally America Titles Decided in New England and Duplessis Shows He’s Still Fast
Well it’s official and expected. David Higgins and Craig Drew of Subaru Rally Team USA win the New England Forest Rally, and with that the overall 2014 Rally America National Championship. This is their 4th consecutive Rally America title and there are still two events remaining to run. Their combination of blazing fast pace and consistency is unrivaled and not likely to be overcome anytime soon. Massive congratulations to the team, crew, and Higgins and Drew for once again showing how dominant they can be.
David Higgins and Craig Drew
Photo Credit: Jordan Apgar
In addition to the overall championship, Ford/Team O’Neil’s Andrew Comrie-Picard & Ole Holter nabbed the 2WD win and the 2WD National Championship in that category as well. Obviously ACP’s switch to to Ford proved a safe bet as the factory Scion team was unable to compete in all events this season and has suffered with multiple transmission issues.
And finally with a 2nd place finish at New England, the Honda Performance Development team of James Robinson and Brian Penza pick up the B-Spec national title in their Honda Fit.
The Rally America Super Production Championship is not yet decided, although with another DNF for Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino it is looking like Dillon Van Way and co-driver Andrew Edwards should be able to wrap up the SP championship at Ojibwe. Consistency is just as important as speed (and a little luck helps too).
Although not fighting for a national championship, local driver and friend of OP Chris Duplessis showed once again how fast he can be in a 2WD car. The New England Forest Rally was Chris’ first rally in almost 2 years, and he said he just couldn’t miss out on the rally that takes place in what is essentially his own backyard. Chris entered the event in a B-Spec Ford Fiesta with a livery showcasing his new business Kitty Smiles Rally Adventures. To call out the notes he enlisted the help British co-driver Phil Hall, and boy did they make a great show of it. Even though there were many technically faster and more powerful cars entered in the national event, Chris Duplessis and Phil Hall finished 1st in B-Spec and an amazingly 10th overall! An extremely impressive performance considering that their Fiesta is almost 100% stock other than R2 suspension and safety equipment. Heck, he said it even still has the CD Player which might be useful for long transit stages. Chris and Phil also finished more than 5 minutes ahead of their nearest class competitor the now national champions James Robinson and Brian Penza in the Honda Fit. Congratulations to Chris Duplessis and Phil Hall on a great win!
Official Press Release:
DAVID HIGGINS AND CRAIG DREW’S NEW ENGLAND FOREST RALLY VICTORY SECURES 2014 RALLY AMERICA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Newry, Maine (July 19, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew overcame a late New England Forest Rally scare to take their fourth Rally America National Championship title on July 18-19 in Newry, ME.
The scare occurred when British rally competitors Higgins and Drew opened up a 1:34.5 minute lead over rival teammates Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis in their 2015 Subaru WRX STI heading into the last leg of the New England Forest Rally. Higgins struck a rock on Stage 10 causing major suspension damage. At the end of the stage Higgins was in the process of repairing the damage when a fire flared and he received a face full of fire extinguisher spray.
Higgins’ lead over Pastrana was cut to 31.1 seconds. Following service Higgins pushed through the last three stages, despite the discomfort, to take his fourth consecutive Rally America title, and sixth U.S. National Championship overall victory in an outstanding career to date.
“We still had a reasonable lead when we left service,” said Higgins, “The rally isn’t over until it’s over. We went out to win the last three stages to win the rally, and more importantly to win the Championship. America has been very kind to me.”
Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis drove a great race to finish in second place, their fourth podium finish this season. FY Racing’s Adam Yeoman and Jordan Schulze broke a two-event DNF streak to take third overall and make it a Subaru podium sweep.
Super Production’s Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards secured a consecutive class victory and a fourth place overall placement. Van Way is fresh from winning his class three weeks ago at the Mt. Washington HillClimb. His victory helps extend his Super Production points lead over Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino with two events remaining.
“The team has been really strong and we haven’t had the luck to win until the last two events,” stated Van Way, “We need the points and the Super Production Championship is looking pretty good for us.”
Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino had led the event until Van Way took over the class lead on Stage 6. On Stage 8, Roberts went to wide into a corner and got stuck. The team was not able to extract themselves and unfortunately was forced to retire.
Roberts’ retirement moved Gary Gill and Nathalie Richard into second in Super Production for their first podium, and Rookie of the Year candidate Mickey Moran with co-driver Alice Von Denes took third.
Another Championship was decided at the New England Forest Rally with Ford Racing’s Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP), co-driven by Ole Holter, taking the Two-Wheel Drive category victory. ACP survived challenges from Scion Racing’s Matthew Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey, and Datingsite.com’s Troy and Jeremy Miller, to take his first career 2WD title.
“We are totally thrilled, it’s just amazing to win this event and lock up the 2WD Championship with two events remaining,” exclaimed Comrie-Picard, “It took us a few years to get here. But the Ford Fiesta ST has been amazing and Ole (Holter) has been terrific in the co-driver’s seat.”
Johnson and Wimpey got as close as 5.7 seconds to ACP on Stage 5 until transmission problems surfaced and forced the team to replace it during service. Johnson is pleased to settle with a second place 2WD finish considering the team missed the last two Rally America rounds. Troy and Jeremy Miller took third in class, and Troy Miller currently continue to lead the Rookie of the Year standings over Mickey Moran.
Bethel, ME hometown favorite, Chris Duplessis with British co-driver Phil Hill, took the B-SPEC Class win in a Ford Fiesta over Honda Performance Development’s James Robinson and Brian Penza and their Honda Fit. But it is James Robinson’s finish at the New England Forest Rally that mathematically secures his second B-SPEC National Championship.
Another local driver from Bangor, ME, John Cassidy with co-driver Dave Getchell, took the Maine Regional Rally and New Hampshire Regional Rally victories.
The Rally America National Championship’s next television airing the NBC Sports Network is August 2at 12:30pm EDT. The next televised date is August 31 at 5pm EDT. More show details forthcoming.
Rally America is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Ford Racing, Honda Performance Development, Exedy Racing Clutches, VP Racing Fuels, Streetwise Parts and GoPro.
About Rally America
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of eight national-level events in 2014 located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. NBC Sports Network is airing eight Rally America episodes. For more information please visit www.rally-america.com.
CLICK HERE for New England Forest Rally results.
CLICK HERE for Maine Regional Rally results
CLICK HERE for New Hampshire Regional Rally results.