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Road rally in Mexico Friday
REGION -- The New England Forest Rally (NEFR) returns to western Maine and northern New Hampshire on Fridayand Saturday to conclude the 2011 Rally America National Championship and crown a new Series champion.
As many as 42 top-level rally teams will make their way to NEFR headquarters at Sunday River resort in Newry to compete on some of the most difficult gravel and forest roads in the country for top honors at this always-popular rally event. The New England Forest Rally is the last chance for teams to make a final push for Championship points.
The NEFR will be contested over two days and 100-plus miles of gravel and forest stages by both National and Regional competitors, but in two separate single-day Regional rally events run simultaneously with the National rally.
The Mexico Regional Rally, presented by the Mt. Washington Auto Road, begins Friday morning at Sunday River Resort after a 10-11:30 a.m. "Parc Exposé" (an area where all competing cars are parked together and put on display for fans to enjoy up close) with the half-mile long Sunday River Super Special.
The racing then continues at a second "Super Special" in Mexico at the Mexico Recreation Park located just off Route 17. Spectators will have the opportunity to watch their favorite rally team complete an entire gravel rally stage that includes a jump. This stage will be run twice from start to finish for maximum spectating. The first pass will be at 12:41 p.m. with the second pass at 1:20 p.m.
From 1:35 to 2:20 p.m., fans will also have the chance to get drivers' and co-drivers' autographs as well as an up-close look at the service crews as they tend to their rally cars at the Service Park, which will also be based at the Mexico Recreation Park.
The park's snack shack will be open with all kinds of food and refreshments available to the public.
At 5 p.m., a spectator bus will depart from the rec park for Concord Pond, which will take them to viewing areas along the Concord Pond stage.
On Saturday, the rally action moves slightly north and west to the area surrounding Errol, NH for the L.L. Cote Regional Rally, presented by the Mt. Washington Auto Road, where rally teams will compete in a new Super Special stage at the JML Trucking gravel pit. Here fans will be treated to watching racers negotiate tight turns and a loose gravel surface while looking down into the pit. Late morning and early afternoon racing continues about a 30-minute drive away on logging roads in Lincoln.
In addition to the exciting, fast-paced race watching opportunities at the stages, fans will have an opportunity to mix and mingle with racers at a variety of other planned events. These include a Wednesday night (5:30-7:30 p.m.) meet-and-greet and autograph session with driver Verena Mei and Tim O'Neil of Team O'Neil Rally School at Mrs. B's Village Store on Main Street in Peru; a Thursday night barbecue and autograph session with racers at the Phoenix House & Well; the Friday night Mexico Regional Rally Awards Banquet at the Phoenix House & Well (tickets available at the door); and the Saturday night Champagne Spray & Awards Ceremony, held slopeside at the South Ridge Base Lodge at Sunday River Resort at the conclusion of the race. The awards will be followed by a party under the stars that will offer fans a barbecue, live music, and more.
Celebrating its 20th year running, this year's rally will host a large contingent of Regional rally teams from across the Northeast U.S. and eastern Canada. Teams include Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins of Mid-Wales, U.K., the current Rally America Championship points leader and recent record-breaker of the Climb to the Clouds speed on Mt. Washington Auto Road; Antoine L'Estage of Sur-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the 2010 Rally America Champion and winner of the 2010 New England Forest Rally; and local drivers Wyatt Knox of Franconia, NH, the current 2WD National Championship points leader, and Chris Duplessis of Mason Township, driving the country's first Ford Fiesta R2 and a consistent top-10 finisher.
All stage viewing is free to spectators. More details on the NEFR schedule for stage times, spectator information, awards ceremonies, race contacts and more can be found at www.newenglandforestrally.com.