Rally America competitors Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard won this weekend's 2011 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood after a flawless drive from start to end. L'Estage set a blistering pace early on, winning 10 of the event's 15 special stages and finishing 17.7 seconds ahead of international rally ace David Higgins.
Subaru Rally Team USA's Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew placed second overall, netting their first points of the season and keeping pressure on L'Estage as they gave chase for the duration of rally. Higgins's Subaru teammate Dave Mirra rounded out the podium by maintaining third overall through most of the event with a solid drive. This was the second consecutive podium finish of the season for Mirra and co-driver Marshall Clarke, who are coming into their own after only two events together.
A surprise last-minute entry from former Subaru driver Travis Pastrana was short-lived when Pastrana and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey crashed and rolled their 2007 ex-Colin McRae WRX STI on a left-hand corner on the second stage of the rally.
The rally in the 100 Acre Wood is based in Salem, Mo., and is well known for its fast and flowing stages. Teams from all over North America and beyond gathered to contest more than 120 competitive miles spread throughout the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. Crews were challenged with unusually damp conditions after heavy rainfall on the Thursday before the rally began. The 100 Acre Wood rally is the second of six rounds in the Rally America National Championship. Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino had won the previous five runnings of the event.
Privateers Travis and Terry Hanson maintained their lead of the overall championship as the series heads west for rounds three and four. The Hansons inherited fourth overall after ex-factory driver Ramana Lagemann and co-driver Chrissie Beavis had a big crash on stage eight, putting them out of the rally. The Hansons had another smooth, trouble-free event, winning Super Production in their Subaru and extending their points lead over top runners Higgins and L'Estage.
Lauchlin O'Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam overcame various mechanical issues to place second in Super Production by only 0.6 second on Roman Pakos. O'Sullivan spent his day closing the gap between himself and Pakos after losing time to him on the second loop of stages. O'Sullivan placed sixth overall. Pakos and guest co-driver Bartosz Sawicki finished third in class and seventh overall.
In two-wheel-drive competition, Wyatt Knox charged to a commanding first-place finish with co-driver Ole Holter, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of Chris Greenhouse and Brian Johnson. Greenhouse claimed second in the 2WD National class but was concentrating on his Group 2 Regional effort, which he won on Friday and in which he placed second on Saturday. Ford Racing driver Dillon Van Way claimed third place in 2WD after dealing with electrical issues on the opening day of the rally. Van Way was unable to make up time on Greenhouse on Saturday's stages and finished 19th overall.