Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rally America Set to Launch the 2014 Championship at Sno*Drift Rally

Antoine L'Estage defending champion at Sno*Drift rally will be looking for a repeat performance from 2013, where he overhauled the  Subaru factory team on the closing stages of the rally. Photo Neil McDaid
Williston, VT (January 17, 2014) -- The 41st running of the Sno*Drift Rally once again kicks-off the eight-round 2014 Rally America National Championship season on January 24-25, 2014 in Montmorency County, Michigan.

Sno*Drift is a performance rally that features prepared 2-wheel and 4-wheel-drive production cars on closed down timed sections of wintery roads It is the only planned snow event on the Rally America National Championship schedule attracting more than fifty domestic and international teams as well as legions of dedicated rally fans.

David Higgins and Craig  Drew would like nothing more than to open their 2014 championship campaign with a victory at Sno*Drift. Photo Neil McDaid.
After two months off, the Championship begins the next chapter with many familiar faces from prior years and some very new faces. Last year's Sno*Drift winner and 2010 Rally America National Champion, Antoine L'Estage, is back to attempt a repeat victory in his trademark Mitsubishi Evolution X after he beat Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins on the very last stage in 2013. David Higgins with co-driver Craig Drew went on to secure the 2013 Rally America title for the third consecutive year and are expected to return to Sno*Drift to extend their streak.

The competition will be crowded with a large contingent of Super Production (SP) cars led by 2013 SP Champions David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski. The SP battle is expected to be tight with the entrance of Lauchlin O'Sullivan and Dillon Van Way, whom both are familiar with top podium finishes.

Rally America fans are anticipating the return of Subaru Rally Team USA's Travis Pastrana, the X Games action sports star who raced for the team from 2006-2009 and delivered four Rally America titles. Pastrana left stage rally to pursue a NASCAR career, but issued a December announcement that he wanted to return to the sport he loves. However, Pastrana will not attend Sno*Drift opting to make his season debut at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood on February 21-22nd in Salem, Missouri. 

Many teams consider the Sno*Drift Rally to be their favorite event due to the unique experience of running the icy, snow banked roads WITHOUT studded tires at high speeds. As a result, Sno*Drift's conditions instantly levels the playing field allowing any driver a chance to win, and the race's past overall winners reflects the event's diversity and toughness.

Since 2005 the Sno*Drift Rally has traditionally been the opening round to the Rally America National Championship and will continue that role for the 2014 season.  Sno*Drift received Honorable Mention in 2008, and in 2005, 2011, and 2012 was named "Rally of the Year", being declared the benchmark by which other Rally America National Championship events are judged.

 "We're striving to put on a world class rally again this year and we're pleased to be able to do this in Montmorency County, it's a great place for an event of this caliber," said Don Rathgeber, Sno*Drift Rally Chairman.

Fans attending the 2014 Sno*Drift Rally will have plenty of opportunities to meet their favorite drivers and watch the rally action on more than 120 miles of competition roads and at the fan-friendly Ralph Thayer Mazda and MAHLE Clevite sponsored Super Special Stage which takes place on Saturday afternoon in Lewiston, MI.

It's the Super Special that draws considerable fan attention during the event.  The Super Special is a rally stage where spectators can watch all the rally action from start to finish from the comfort of one viewing location. Taking place on Saturday, January 25th at the Lewiston Sand & Gravel Pit located just off of Buttles Road - admission is just $5 per person.   Due to limited on-site parking, organizers are providing free bus rides from the Atlanta, MI School and the Lewiston Ace Hardware store beginning at noon.  Details of both opportunities are currently available on www.sno-drift.org.

The Sno*Drift Rally begins in downtown Lewiston, MI at 1:00 PM on Friday, January 24 at the Parc Expose where spectators will have a chance to view the rally cars on display, as well as get autographs from the many drivers and co-drivers prior to the start of the day's action.  In addition, fans will be able to pick up complimentary spectator guides that provide driving instructions to nearby viewing areas. It's a perfect starting place for a day full of rally competition and an adventure in the beautiful Michigan woods.

Saturday starts once again in downtown Atlanta, MI at 8:00 AM, January 25, 2014 with another Parc Expose and opportunities to meet the drivers. After the day's action awards and the victory celebration will take place at the Hillman Community Center at 6:30 PM.  

In addition to seeing the cars lined at Parc Expose, Sno*Drift will have numerous designated spectator areas on both Friday and Saturday. These locations give people a great viewpoint as the cars slide by at race speeds. There are also opportunities to see the drivers up close as well as watch all the amazing service crews repair damage to the race cars at the TRF (www.thompsonracingfabrication.com) sponsored service areas. On Friday it will be in downtown Lewiston and on Saturday at the Atlanta High School.

Spectator guides and event schedules are available for free download on the Sno*Drift website and at www.rally-america.com. Hard copy spectator guides will be available at Parcs Expose and at service areas. 

In addition to the Rally America National Championship event, the Sno*Drift Rally will also feature two separate Regional rally events. The Sno Regional and Drift Regional Rallies will be run on Friday and Saturday respectively, to support grassroots and regional rally competitors.