Words and images by Matt Kalish
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Last week’s New England Forest Rally (NEFR) was a runaway success for Subaru Motorsports USA drivers David Higgins and Craig Drew. The defending champions drove their #75 Subaru WRX STI to its second win of the season, marking the first time a team has won multiple events in 2019. With 6 rallies run and 3 to go, the win also allowed Higgins and Drew to pass privateers Piotr Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak for the points lead.
A tough weekend for teams, drivers and co-drivers took to the stages in record-setting heat and high humidity. Situated along the border between Maine and New Hampshire, NEFR runs through both states over its 113 mile route through the region’s White Mountains. Sometimes likened to a small scale Rally Finland, the event features a fast and technical mashup of crests, corners, and jumps. The rally’s many hazards, high speeds, and exposed rocks also give it a reputation for attrition.
Back to the podium, second overall was the Irish pair of Barry McKenna and Andy Hayes driving the McKenna Motorsport M-SPORT Ford Fiesta S2000 Turbo. Hayes, replacing usual co-driver Leon Jordan, is a new face in the US, but he and McKenna have a long and successful history of competition in the Irish Forest Championship driving R5-spec rally cars. Hayes is expected to continue his role as McKenna’s US-event co-driver through the end of the season.
Third overall were the reunited pair of Ramana Lagemann and Chrissie Beavis driving a special 2001 Prodrive Subaru WRX STI. A passion project for Lagemann, the car is the same model that he campaigned in the SCCA Pro Rally championship as a Subaru factory driver 15 years ago. While not the exact car Lagemann used professionally, this particular chassis has some history of its own after scoring two WRC podiums in the hands of the legendary Tommi Makinen.
Full results from the 2019 New England Forest Rally can be found here —> https://bit.ly/2LOS6K4.