Newry, Maine (July 18, 2016)

Competitors arrived from all over to run the stages in the deep Maine woods.  New England Forest Rally took place July 15th and 16th along the Maine/New Hampshire border. With some of the fastest and most loved stages in the Rally America National Championship like Concord Pond. The forecast for the weekend showed a mix of sunny skies and heavy rain showers. Fans flocked in from as far away as California to catch the fast action.

Thursday would have all the competitors doing recce throughout the day running the 10 stages of the rally. The stages would range from 4.7 miles being the shortest stage to 16.22 miles being the longest stage. Rocks were making their way out from under the dirt giving drivers more obstacles and the rain that came on Thursday evening would hold down the dust for Fridays stages.

Parc Exposé started mid-morning on Friday with a great turn out where fans got to visit with the drivers, get a close up view of the cars and even try the Toyota Racing virtual reality experience. Spectator busses loaded up to the brim and fans were on their way out to stage 1. Competitors were en-route shortly after making their transit and getting in rally mode to take on Concord Pond (stage 1).

Starting the first stage would be the overall points leader, David Higgins/Craig Drew (2016 Subaru WRX STI) followed by Seamus Burke/Martin Brady (2009 Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Troy Miller/Jeremy Miller (2011 Subaru WRX STI). However, the race to watch this weekend was in the 2wd class with the battle between Ryan Millen/Christina Fate (2016 Toyota RAV4 SE) vs. Cameron Steely/Preston Osborn (2015 Ford Fiesta ST.) Both would go into the weekend tied in points for their class.

Higgins/Drew ran the fastest pace for stage 1 and continued running at the top for the 2 other stages of day 1. Burke/Brady spent day one chasing them down with hopes they would make an error and they could capitalize on it. That would be the case come Saturdays stages as Higgins/Drew went out for stage 4 and would hit a rock that would cause the strut to break, ending their rally and sending Burke/Brady into the top spot.

Burke/Brady would continue their solid run in overall through the remaining 6 stages with Troy Miller/Jeremy Miller following behind, but not running fast enough to close the time gap that Burke/Brady held.

Making their way through the pack of competitors would be the Steely and Millen in the 2wd class. Hunting down an overall podium and looking to gain the points lead in their respective classes, they were driving hard yet cautious to overtake the other. It would be Millen/Fate that needed to push their Toyota Rav4 to get around Steely/Osborn who was just one position ahead by stage 5.

By stage 6 Steely/Osborn would continue moving up into the 3rd overall position to find themselves up against Miller/Miller in their Super Production car. Burke/Brady wouldn’t budge from the overall lead and the rally continued until the finish line of stage 10 with the three teams holding down the podium position.

Burke/Brady taking the overall and first place in the NLO class, Miller/Miller second overall and first in Super Production and Steely/Osborn third overall and first in 2wd.

Sharing the podium with the first place NLO team of Seamus Burke and Martin Brady was time time team of Jon Fogg and Bill Fogg, Sr. in a 2007 Subaru STI taking 2nd with Gary Gill and Steve Harrell rounding out the NLO podium with 3rd place.

Troy Miller and Jeremy Miller finished 1st in Super Production with Agatino Fortunato and co-driver Claudia Pullen sitting in 2nd place and Bucky Lasek and Rhiannon Gelsomino finishing 3rd. 

New to gravel rally is Pro Skateboarder, Bucky Lasek who took to the wheel this past weekend with Co-Driver Rhianon Gelsomino. The duo kept a steady pace and made their way to a third place finish in the Super Production class. We will hopefully be seeing Bucky back for more.

The 2wd class ran a tough close rally and continues to be a class to watch. Steely/Osborn took first place but not without being pushed by Millen/Fate who would end the rally in second place in 2wd and LaRoza/LaRoza rounding out the 2wd podium in third.

Rally America’s National B-Spec class saw an upset with Driver Keanna Erickson-Chang and Co-driver Ole Olter winning 1st place beating out the Honda Performance Development team of Jordan Guitar and William Jang who placed 2nd.  They shared the podium as the only remaining B-Spec cars after a grueling set of day two stages. 

Rally America will return next month for the Ojibwe Forest Rally that will have drivers and co-drivers running their cars through the streets of Detroit Lake, MN. Be sure to follow us on our social media channels to be sure to stay up to date with the latest action and behind the scenes coverage.

Rally America would like to thank the NEFR workers and volunteers who were able to make this  rally possible.