LAKE SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE RALLY IS THE DECIDING FACTOR FOR RALLY AMERICA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
The seven-event Rally America National Championship will conclude at the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) in Houghton, MI on October 18-19th and all but one Rally America Championship will be decided at the final event. Crowning the overall, Super Production, Two-Wheel Drive and Manufacturers’ champions makes LSPR the most anticipated finale in recent memory, and promises to be an all-out shootout with national teams vying for a last chance at victory.
At the season’s midpoint Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew amassed enough points to position the team just one win away from locking up their third consecutive Rally America National Championship title. But their title has remained elusive when the Hoonigan Racing Team suddenly staged three event wins since the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in June to force a title showdown at the final round.
“LSPR was always my favorite event back in my early championship wins in 02 and 03,” said Higgins, “The conditions can be very like home with many surface changes with grip and weather, can get everything from sun to snow and ice. It's going to be tough battle but hope I can rely on my 13 rally championship wins to seal another.”
The Hoonigan Racing team fell 35 points behind Subaru prior to STPR in the overall standings and the only option was to outright win the four remaining Rally America rounds to stay in the chase. Subaru’s lead appeared insurmountable, but all that remains is a must win at LSPR for Block’s first Rally America title.
"LSPR has shaped up to be a massive event for me this year," said Block. "To have the championship come down to such a close finish is exciting not just for myself and for David, but for the fans as well. It's either of ours to win and I'm looking forward to doing battle with David out on the final stages of the season."
A Super Production Class champion will be crowned at LSPR as current points leader David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski defend their points advantage from Rally America’s youngest driver, Mason Moyle, with co-driver John Hall guiding him to their finest season finish to date. Sterckx and Jankowski took over the SP standings lead at STPR, but failed to secure their title at the previous round at the Ojibwe Forests Rally held in late August.
Now the door is cracked open for Moyle and Hall to possibly snatch the title if he wins the class at LSPR and Sterckx fails to finish. Moyle’s chances improve as LSPR is his hometown event and he knows the roads and conditions better than most.
Super Production’s Nick Roberts will complete the SP season in 3rd place, but the Rookie of the Year prize is just within his grasp at LSPR. Roberts was trailing another Rookie of the Year candidate, Brent Hercelinsky, a Ford Fiesta driver in the Two Wheel Drive (2WD) category, until Roberts won his first SP Class at the Ojibwe Forests Rally. Roberts is now the Rookie of the Year frontrunner by 5 points over Hercelinksy.
In 2WD, current points leader Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey driving for Scion Racing Rally xD, find themselves in danger of letting their first 2WD title slip to Ford Fiesta drivers Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth. Comrie-Picard shot out to an early season lead until Reeves entered at the Oregon Trail Rally and won every 2WD class since. LSPR now becomes the deciding factor where the 2WD winner will likely hold the 2WD title barring any surprises.
"I'm seriously looking forward to the battle we're going to have at LSPR. We're leading the Championship but have to beat Brendon here to win it. On the one hand, I've done this event before and know the roads better than he does. On the other hand, I also know how difficult the event is, because I've never finished it! But Brendon is up against the same challenges, we just know them a little better. We're looking forward to a great race!"
Third place in 2WD is essentially locked up by Dodge Neon SRT4 driver Chris Greenhouse who plans to return to LSPR to continue his battle with the Scion and Ford drivers.
The Rally America Manufacturers’ Championship is also up for grabs between Subaru and Ford. Subaru currently leads the standings 18 points ahead of Ford, but after factoring the five best results the top finishing manufacturer at LSPR will be left holding the Manufacturers’ Championship cup.
The only championship decided early this year is the B-Spec Championship dominated by Honda Team Research’s James Robinson. He won each event he entered and dominated the B-Spec Class driving a 2009 Honda Fit against his rivals.
LSPR fans will be able to visit with top national teams and drivers at the Parcs Expose - a meet & greet before competition begins on Friday and Saturday - in Houghton, MI on Friday at the Country Inn & Suites and the Rock House Restaurant at 12:30pm ET, and in L'Anse, MI on Saturday at Front and Broad St., at 8:30am ET. Spectator guides will be available at Parc Expose or free to download at www.lsprorally.com.
About Rally America:
Based in Williston, VT, Rally America, Inc. sanctions the Rally America National Championship which consists of at least six national-level events located at a variety of venues across the country, from Portland, Oregon to Newry, Maine. Top competitors in the Rally America National Championship reach speeds of well over 100 mph driving highly modified street cars such as Mitsubishi Evolutions, Subaru WRX STI’s, Ford Fiestas, Honda Fits and Scion xD’s on natural-terrain courses consisting of gravel, dirt, ice or snow. For more information regarding Rally America’s National Championship or the sport of performance rally, visit www.rally-america.com.
Photos: Alex Haugen