New England Forest Rally weekend went the best EvAr. Best LDR team effort, best car, best performances on stage. Though field was modest size, it was quite top-heavy. At the start line, at least 20 crews were primed for top 5 finishes.
Field might not have been the biggest, but the quality was stellar: Irish Evo ace and former PWRC Champ Niall McShea showed up to vie for the coveted X Games wildcard invite, Pastrana with McRae's WRC-winning codriver Derek Ringer, Block/Gelsomino, Canadian champs Antoine L'Estage/Nat Richard(who've won 2 US events this year), R-A series leaders ACP/Goldfarb, Hankook/Rallispec's Matt Johnson/Jeremy Wimpey, US-based Irish stalwarts Seamus Burke/Eddie Fries, Cowboy Kenny Bartram/Dennis Hotson in the ex-Iorio uber-GC, etc etc.
Well, going up against all those speedy well-supported teams was a bit intimidating at first, so John and I concentrated on the regionals and let the National stuff sort out later. We just went out and tried to go wicked fast and not hit things...and by jeez, it worked. Our stage times were close to top 10 against the full National field, and we were running well ahead of the R-A East regional guys all thru Day One. Hmmm, which got us to
On Day 2, the LDR game plan changed as the rough Maine forest roads started chewing up rally cars and we started climbing the national event leaderboard. Burke/Frie's Evo blew up on the first Super Special. Johnson/Wimpy, ACP/Goldfarb, and Cowboy Kenny all suffered at the hands of the rocks on the "stupid-fast" Dillon-Success stage, one of the fastest of the entire R-A series. Cowboy Kenny hit a rock going so hard and so fast, they not only tore the right rear wheel clean off, they had to walk back
down the road on gather up the pieces! Next thing we knew, we were sitting 10th overall and the rally was still young.
We kept on pushing, running clean and tidy. Of course everybody else was going fast, but soon they started hitting things. Block/Gelsomino got bit by a rocky crest and destroyed the left rear suspension, at almost the exact spot where they went out at Maine Winter Rally a few years back. Antoine and Nat's battlewagon Hyundai expired on the very last stage. And so, LDR found itself Very Much In The Hunt.
We ended up winning regional events both days, and had great battles in the national with Dave Mirra/Alex Kihurani in a fire-breathing VTCar STi, Bill Bacon and veteran Canadian navvie Peter Watt in an immaculateEvo VIII, Jeff Moyle/Scott Putnam in Colin McRae's ex-X Games car, and PGTseries leaders Pat Moro and Scott Crouch. We ended up ahead of all but Bacon/Watt--fifth overall--LDR's best result by far in a US national event.
Yeah! LDR's car T4 is the real deal--we're talking a wild, wild horses kind of ride. I got strapped in next to a madman this weekend, and we rode the wild pony past almost everybody else in the rally.
It's gonna be a tough week, climbing back into normal life, back to dealing with boat shows, house construction, girlfriends, families and stuff.....