DUPLESSIS LOCKS UP 2WD TITLE AGAINST TOUGHEST COMPETITION
Chris Duplessis from Bethlehem, NH had quite the year elevating his rally driving profile as one of the nation’s best Two-Wheel Drive Class drivers. He was already known to whip other cars with more horsepower in his Volkswagen GTI and cracking the top 10. This season Duplessis not only locked up his third 2WD National Championship, but fended off his toughest Rally America competition to date while adding three overseas appearances in WRC Academy against the world’s best 2WD drivers.
Ford Racing recognized Duplessis’ potential early on and gave him the support he needed to campaign Rally America in a 2012 Ford Fiesta R2. And he succeeded against Scion Racing, who entered their first full season with longtime rally driver, Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP), and the entrance of a new dual Australian threat from Summit Rally Team’s Will Orders and Ross Allan in their 400+hp Nissan Silvias.
“Those guys were great rivals,” added Duplessis, “Too bad Summit Rally Team didn’t come out for more events. It was a great battle between all three of us.”
With ACP and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey extracting every ounce of speed from their Scion xD the Scion Racing team tailed Duplessis and stayed in the 2WD title hunt throughout the season. At the Olympus Rally Scion Racing needed a 2WD Class win and for Duplessis to not finish in order to take the title, but the team is happy to end with second in the final 2WD Championship standings for their first 2WD overall podium finish. Edward McNelly from Oxford, ME flushed out the podium in another Ford Fiesta R2 and was recently named 2012 Rookie of the Year.
Will Orders proved to the world he could win in America with two class wins, but he also failed to finish twice as well. He had the power and skill to beat Duplessis and ACP, but the two American drivers proved consistency is key over the long haul.
Though Orders mathematically didn’t have a chance to snatch the 2WD title, he surprised the rally world announcing an extended stay in America beyond his three planned events. He headed to the Olympus Rally and took the lead until a 2 minute penalty was accessed against him. Orders mounted a furious comeback climbing back under a minute with one more 20 mile stage to go. Unfortunately Orders went off the stage and didn’t finish Olympus ceding second place to ACP.
Duplessis went on to win the 2WD Championship in his second season in a 2012 Ford Fiesta – and the first non-spec championship won by the Ford Fiesta in the world!
Said Duplessis, “It’s good for the Fiesta to get this Championship. They are out to prove this platform is the toughest and easy to rally race competitively.”
Congratulations, Chris Duplessis and co-driver Alex Kirhurani, on a job well done!
Photos: Matt Young