Wellsboro, PA. June 1. With the exception of a few late arrivals, most of the competitors have already passed through tech for round number four of the 2012 Rally America Championship, STPR. Team Duplessis rolled into Wellsboro late last night with their brand new 2012 R2 Fiesta. Chis has just returned from WRC Greece where he claimed his first WRC points. Duplessis missed the last round of the Rally America Championship due to his new car not being ready but the multi-time 2WD Rally American Champion will be looking to regain the points lead. Duplessis is now trailing Team Scion driver Andrew Comrie-Picard by 7 points.
David Higgins was the only top contender for the overall rally victory to run the practice stage and it was an all out effort from Subaru's top driver to perfect his setup. As always we expect a tight battle between Higgins and Canadian Antoine L'Estage for the overall victory, but up and coming Russian driver "Crazy Leo" Urlichich will be nipping at their rear bumpers waiting for the slightest slip up from the champions.
A very competitive group has shown up at STPR to contest in the SP Class. Travis Hanson is back in the lineup after sitting out the last round and Lauchlin O'Sullivan will, for sure, have the push on this weekend to stay ahead of Hanson in the SP championship. But they both will have to deal with former Team Subaru driver Ramana Lagemann who has also entered the fray. Although Lagemann has had mixed fortune at STPR down through the years, if his car is up for the challenge Ramana is also very capable of an overall podium finish.
The 2012 Ford Fiesta is quickly becoming the 2WD car of choice to replace the many dated but much loved VW Golfs and the likes that have been the staple of U.S. 2WD rallying for many years. At last count there was a total of 7 shiny new Fiestas ready to take the start line at STPR. With the addition of the two awesome Summit Rally Team RWD Nissans we are really expecting a very exciting battle in 2WD over the next few days.
As always the weather for STPR is a crap shoot. It is looking like anything from on and off showers to a full on rain. STPR can be a very difficult rally in the wet as the mud oozes to the surface of the road.
Stay tuned here or at www.rally-america.com for updates
Report/Photos: Neil McDaid