Overall podium finishers from three different classes; Kramer/Lanty claim victory at both regionals
WELLSBORO, PENNSYLVANIA (June 5, 2016)–David Higgins (Trefeglwys, Wales UK) and co-driver Craig Drew (Forest of Dean, England UK) scored a victory in their Open class 2016 Subaru WRX STI at the 40th running of the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally® (STPR®), round 5 of the Rally America National Championship. This is the third consecutive win for this Subaru Rally USA team and Higgins’ sixth.
Teammates Travis Pastrana (Davidsonville, Maryland) and Christian Edstrom (New York, New York) had some issues on Stage 2 on Friday, but the crew was able to make repairs so they could restart on Saturday. However, about four miles into Stage 5, Pastrana lost control and the Subaru ended up in the trees, causing the team to sadly take a DNF.
Second was Seamus Burke (Powder Springs, Georgia) and Martin Brady (Galway, Ireland) in a National Limited Open class 2006 Mitsubishi Evo 9. After completion of Friday’s three stages, Burke held the overall lead by a mere .02 of a minute over Higgins. Burke also finished second in his last visit to STPR in 2001. Third were the team of Troy and Jeremy Miller (Allegheny, New York), driving a 2008 Subaru WRX STI in the Super Production class.
“The Subarus are so much quicker, the technology more advanced and the pace a lot hotter,” Burke said after the champagne spray at the Tioga County Fairgrounds on Saturday evening. He shared credit for their podium finish to his “very experienced” Irish co-driver.
John Buffum, manager of the Subaru Rally Team USA and legendary rally competitor and organizer was excited about the variety of teams on the podium.
“David had a good run and it was good to see Seamus come out of retirement,” Buffum said. “It must be really special for the Millers to finish third overall.”
A starting field of 60 rally cars and trucks took on the challenging hard-packed clay, gravel and stone roads through the region’s densely wooded forests stages that give STPR a reputation as one of the fastest and most harrowing events in the Rally America series. The rally competitors drive as fast as they can, one at a time, against the clock on closed forest roads at venues across the country.
In the two-wheel-drive classes, there was an amicable battle the entire event between the top-spot 2WD winners, O.D.D. Racing’s Cameron Steely (Greeley, Colorado) and Preston Osborn (Broomfield, Colorado) in a Group 5 class 2015 Ford Fiesta ST and second-place Ryan Millen (San Juan Capistrano, California) and Christina Fate (Huntington Beach, California) in a Toyota RAV4 SE. Steely got a flat tire about halfway through Stage 10. He said it knocked down his confidence, but it was the encouragement of his co-driver that pumped him back up, reminding him they had at least a solid minute lead over the RAV4. The two contenders ended with only about a half minute between them in the final score.
“We started our really strong, but backed off for a bit,” Steely said. “Ryan got a little closer than we wanted.”
Another crowd favorite was the team of Tommy Passemante, better known as “Street Bike Tommy” from MTV’s Nitro Circus and his co-driver Tracey Gardiner. Passemante’s friendly, approachable personality and child-like grin never faltered all weekend and was evident when he and Gardiner earned the top spot on the B-Spec podium.
“Lucky for Travis, it’s my first STPR because I’ve been whipping his ass for a long time now!,” he teased his Nitro Circus pal Pastrana.”
In the two shorter Regional rallies (run for regional competitors in conjunction with the National events), Jon Kramer (Ligonier, Pennsylvania)/Jared Lantzy (Silver Spring, Maryland) won both the Finger Lakes Rally and Sherwood Forest Rally in their 1993 Subaru Impreza.
Street Bike Tommy
More than 5,000 people either saw the cars run at designated spectator areas at the Waste Management site or in the forests on Friday and Saturday, or at the closed spectator stage at the dirt course at the south end of the Tioga County Fairgrounds near Wellsboro on Saturday night, making one of the best attended performance rallies in the country.
“We had a great turnout of competitors. STPR has some of the best roads and it helped the weather held off,” said Rally America owner Bill Fogg, Sr. “There were good crowds and the community remembers us year to year.”
Complete rally results are available on the Rally America website (http://rally-america.com/events/2016/STPR) , while photos and a multimedia social media aggregation can be found on the event’s official website, STPR.org.
The next round of the Rally America National Championship is the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) in Newry, Maine,, on July 15-16.
What is STPR® and Performance Rally?
The Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally was first conducted by the Finger Lakes Region, SCCA in 1977, with the assistance of members of other sports car clubs in the Rochester, N.Y. area. Members of these clubs (Triumph Touring Club, Corvair Owners Club, MG Car Club and others) had experience with previous performance events such as the Snowblower and Lunar Lunge which ran out of Rochester as early as 1965 and were part of the M.O.N.Y. series (Michigan, Ohio and New York), the forerunner of the SCCA ProRally series.
In the United States, performance rally teams have a driver and co-driver (or navigator) for each car, and the competitors race in segments (or stages) on closed public roads, trying to get from the beginning to the end of the stage as fast as they can. Unlike other forms of motorsports, there is no practice allowed, and teams are only allowed one pass to review the course at the public speed limit before the event. In competition, the navigator then barks out the route instructions while the drive proceeds, sometimes at speeds exceeding 100 miles-per-hour, through forest, desert, and logging around at events around the country. The cars, all street legal to allow driving on public roads between racing stages, are compact and subcompact cars with varying amounts of performance modifications depending on the class they are running in. The sight of these cars, running at speed through the woods to beat the clock, makes exciting spectating for the fans who come out to watch performance rally.
STPR® was the last of the great endurance events on the national schedule maintaining the one-day format and is designed with a high stage/transit mileage ratio and, thanks to the outstanding cooperation of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), some of the best and most demanding roads in the country. With the additional of the Waste Management stages and the Fairgrounds, the rally went to two days in 2008.
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MaryAnne Shults / Andy Schupack