The Canadian team of Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard won the New England Forest Rally last weekend in their Rockstar Mitsubishi Evo X.
It was the fourth consecutive win – two in Canada and two in the U.S. – for the reigning Canadian and North American Rally Champions,
The Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew, however, clinched their second straight Rally America National Championship title at that event, with one more rally left on the Championship calendar.
The American pair needed just a sixth place finish or better to take the national title, which they more than accomplished with a second place overall podium finish, 21 seconds behind their Canadian rivals.
"It's a big relief to put this Championship in the bag," said Higgins, well aware of the Rockstar team's current momentum.
L'Estage and Richard fell behind in the Championship chase early in the Rally America season, failing to finish the second and third rounds due to mechanical failures.
Although they still had a mathematical chance of taking the title going into the New England rally, Higgins and Drew, who had taken advantage of the Canadians' earlier difficulties by consistently finishing first or second in each event, slammed the door on those hopes.
In the final event, the Olympus Rally on September 22-23rd in Olympia, Ken Block and the Monster World Rally Team, is expected to add to the challenge for all the regular teams, as well as to the overall excitement.
Earlier in the season, Block won the 100 Acre Wood rally, beating both Higgins and L'Estage in a powerful AWD Ford Fiesta.
It remains to be seen if L'Estage and Richard will take part in the Olympus having being eliminated from pursuit of the Rally America Championship title, but they are still in contention for the North American Championship.
They are leading in the Canadian Rally Championship, having won all three events so far in 2012.