It all comes down to this weekend. The final race of the 7 round Rally America Championship season. There is nothing left to conserve. It will be win it or bin it at the Lake Superior Forest Rally on the forest roads outside Houghton, Michigan.
Thanks to the Federal Government shutdown taking so long to be resolved, the originally scheduled stages for Friday that were on federal forest lands are no longer available. Instead Saturday’s scheduled stages on private lands are going to be repeated on Friday as well. This cuts the rally distance by about 30 stage miles, and could result in some severely cut up and mangled roads. To add a little spice to the mixture, mother nature has in the forecast a 30% chance of rain or even snow showers.
So who will take home the 2013 Championship trophies this year in these challenging conditions? In the Open Class will it be Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew taking home their 3rd championship in a row? Or will Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino continue their current dominance in their Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta? Interestingly if Ken Block wins, he ties Higgins in points, but still will end up champion. This is because in a tie, the driver with the most wins takes the title. Although not a factor in the championship Rockstar Energy’s Antoine L’Estage returns in his Subaru with new co-driver Marshall Clark. L’Estage is looking to end the Rally America season on a high note after an an abysmal season filled with mechanical issues and a massive crash.
Similarly a close battle will also be decided in the hotly contested 2wd championship where Australians Brendan Reeves and sister Rhiannon need to win in their to snatch the title from points leaders Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpy. The high speed sections of the Michigan stages should give an advantage to the Ford Fiesta R2 piloted by Reeves, however the tight and twisty sections should favor Comrie-Picard’s turbo-charged Scion XD. It’s still anyone’s game.
Finally we also have a slim possibility that there could be an upset in the Super Production class. David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski have shown tremendous speed all season including 3 wins and a 2nd place overall finish at STPR. Unfortunately for Sterckx, their season has also seen a few mechanical problems which puts the young Mason Moyle within 10 points of Sterckx. Moyle has had a stellar season this year with his new co-driver, the very experienced John Hall. Together they have finished every event and ended up on the podium in 4 of the 6 previous rounds. If Sterckx has mechanical issues again, Moyle could end up being the youngest Super Production champion in Rally America history. Another advantage for Moyle is that this is his home rally in more ways than one. Not only is he a Michigan native, but some of the stages are actually being run on his families property. Look for Moyle to push hard on the stages he knows best.
So who do you think will take home the 2013 Rally America championship titles?