This past weekend Wellsboro, Pennsylvania hosted the fifth Rally America race on the eight race schedule and that is where David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew won their fifth consecutive race of the season. The Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) is one of the toughest multi-stage races on the calendar, but it is also one of the most challenging–attracting both national and regional teams to compete. The entry list had 70 cars entered to compete starting on Friday, but only 41 cars would finish Saturday night after fifteen grueling stages of racing.
The STPR event included 119 miles of competitive stages over two days. The event’s fast serpentine roads are lined with trees, earning STPR the reputation as one of the fastest and most harrowing events in the Rally America series. It is also steeped in history, having run for 38 years consecutively. STPR is a national event and parent to two regional races, Finger Lakes and Sherwood Forest, which take place within the same race event.
Higgins and Drew, driving a factory sponsored 2015 Subaru WRX STi prepared by Vermont Sports Car, drove a perfect race by winning all 15 stages of STPR. The team that has posted 11 consecutive Rally America wins over a two year period extended their lead over FY Racing Team of Adam Yeoman and Jordan Schulze stage by stage this weekend, eventually finishing the two-day rally in 1:44:44.2, a full five-and-a-half minutes ahead of FY Racing’s 2007 Subaru WRX STi.
It was also a big weekend for the Nick Roberts Global Rally team of Nick Roberts and Rhiannon Gelsomino, who made the overall podium in their Super Production (SP) class #202 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX STI for the third time this year and also topped their third SP podium, ahead of Lauchlin O’Sullivan/Scott Putnam (#90 2009 Subaru WRX STi), and Gary Gill/Harry Hanson (#370 2007 Subaru Impreza). Roberts pushed during the entire race and successfully set six stage records.
“Nick said to me from the beginning that if we have a chance to push for some SP stage records, he really wanted to do it,” said Gelsomino, who marked her 100th rally as a co-driver this weekend. It’s never about playing it safe to stay in front: if you back off, that’s when don’t continue to progress.”
Winners of the Finger Lakes regional race are Justin Pritchard and Rachelle Kaltak driving #550, a 1993 Subaru Impreza RS. Just 2.3 seconds behind the winners was the team of Jake and Dane Marsack, driving #57 Subaru Impreza STi. Third place on the podium is the husband and wife team of Matthew and Lauren Conte driving their #542 1991 Subaru Legacy.
Matt and Lauren Conte pulled things together and drove a spectacular race to win the Sherwood Forest regional. John Cassidy and Robert Sockalexis, driving #110 Subaru WRX STi, grabbed 2nd place, while Patric Brennan and David Dooley locked up third place with their #15 Mitsubishi Evo IX.
With just three events remaining, Higgins may now be thinking a perfect season, winning all eight-rounds, is possible. A perfect rally season in the USA has only been accomplished once, in 1987 by rally legend, and Subaru Rally Team USA rally manager John Buffum.
The Rally America field heads to Newry, Maine July 17-18 for the New England Forest Rally, where several top competitors may guest enter and look to spoil Higgins run, including long time rival Ken Block and prior team mate Travis Pastrana.
ABOUT RALLY AMERICA: Rally competition can be simply described “real cars, real roads, real fast.” It’s an all-season motorsport that sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Based in Williston, Vermont, Rally America, Inc., sanctions the Rally America National Championship, which consists of eight national-level events in 2015 from Portland, Oregon, to Newry, Maine.