The New England Forest Rally is spooled up and running hot as the 2012 Rally America National Championship proceeds in Newry, Maine. This event is the fifth of six races in the series, and Subaru Rally Team USA is continuing their push for another championship title. The team's David Higgins and Craig Drew have performed so well this year in the 2012 Subaru WRX STI that any finish above sixth place at this event will guarantee the title for SRT USA.
A significant forty percent of the event's stage mileage has been covered in only four stages run Friday afternoon, and the conditions have been dusty throughout. At the "seeded draw" used to assign preference of starting position, David Higgins was placed second on the road. This proved to be a great disadvantage as the recent dry spell in the Northeast has left Maine's forest roads covered in a bone-dry layer of dust. Calm skies throughout the day did little to clear the air of hanging particles kicked-up by speeding rally cars. Though rally officials moved to three-minute intervals on the last stage of the day, it was too little too late. Higgins and Drew have fallen 32 seconds behind first place as limited visibility forced them into a more cautious approach than intended. Though they'd prefer to be in the clear and the lead, Higgins and Drew are comfortably 26 seconds ahead of third place and the championship remains well within reach.
Temperatures were in the upper eighties as the sun beat down on the afternoon stages. Those fans who braved the overwhelming dust and heat did get a great show from Higgins and Drew as their 2012 Subaru WRX STI ran flawlessly through the Maine roads.
The 2012 New England Forest Rally continues Saturday with an all new set of roads along the Maine and New Hampshire border. These newly added stages are smoother than those of years past and offer 48 miles of a great mix of high-speed straights and twisty technical challenges. The weather conditions are forecasted to be the same as on day one, so David and Craig will have their work cut out for them as they navigate toward the podium.