The 2022 American Rally Association season will continue this weekend with the New England Forest Rally. The New England Forest Rally will be headlined by the tight National Championship Battle, which will see competitors push themselves and each other to the limit. 

National Championship Battle

The 2022 ARA Championship Battle couldn’t get much closer with only nine points separating first and third place. Travis Pastrana has found a way to take the Championship lead after the Southern Ohio Forest Rally without winning a rally so far this season. Ken Block has put himself back into the championship race after winning back-to-back rallies. Brandon Semenuk will likely be looking to take back the top spot after gaining no points at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally where he retired due to damage. 

Championship Standings 

Travis Pastrana 78 

Brandon Semenuk 72 

Ken Block 69 

Tom Williams 43 

O4WD Class Rundown 

The O4WD will be competitive this weekend as always, but this rally holds a little more importance due to how tight the championship race is, this could be a make-or-break weekend for the top three. Martin Donnelly, Lucy Block, Liam McNeils, and Myron Georgakopoulos will also be racing in the O4WD class. 

LN4 Drivers Championship Rundown 

The L4WD class will be headlined by Dylan Murcott who currently sits second in the LN4 Drivers Championship Standings with 56 points which is 12 points behind class leader Phil Wearn. Dave Carapetyan will not be attending the New England Forest Rally, he currently sits third in the LN4 Drivers. Championship. 

2WD Drivers Championship Rundown 

2WD Drivers Championship leader Micah Nickerson will not be racing the New England Forest Rally giving Seamus Burke an opportunity to take first place. Burke currently sits just three points behind Nickerson with 51 points, Nickerson has 54. Derik Nelson who sits in third place will also not be attending the event giving Michael Hooper a chance to take third place, Hooper currently sits 14 points behind Nelson with 36, and Nelson has 50. 

New England Forest Rally Rundown

The New England Forest Rally takes place over 111.72 stage miles across 15 stages. The New England Forest Rally has been described as similar to Rally Finland with the jumps and turns over crests by Ken Block. Day One will feature five stages including back-to-back runnings of Concord Pond as well as the 16.07-mile Icicle Brook stage. Day Two will feature the remaining 10 stages, headlined by the 13.40-mile Sturtevant Long stage.

A Look-Back at NEFR 2021

The 2021 edition of the New England Forest Rally saw a tight battle between former teammates Travis Pastrana and David Higgins. Higgins would race with McKenna Motorsport in his first rally since leaving Subaru Rally Team USA at the start of the 2020 season. Higgins was a mentor and coach for Pastrana and Pastrana’s drive style is based on Higgins. Travis Pastrana nearly had the 2021 ARA National Championship clinched by this point and a win would’ve been massive.

Defending ARA Champion Barry McKenna led most of the rally until he had an electrical failure after suffering a puncture on SS11. Ken Block was second but would retire on SS8 due to a gearbox failure. With both McKenna and Block retiring Travis Pastrana would take over the lead, with David Higgins taking second and teammate Brandon Semenuk taking third. Pastrana wanted to win the rally as well as best his former teammate and mentor David Higgins. Higgins wanted to deny Pastrana the win. Travis Pastrana would be forced to retire on SS13 after rolling, thus handing David Higgins the win. 

Subaru Rally Team USA Rundown 

The Subaru Rally Team USA drivers are where they want to be at this point in the season which is holding first and second place in the national standings. Although they are where they want to be their situation at this point is less than desirable, with a narrow lead over Ken Block. Subaru Rally Team USA has only won two of the five rallies so far this season with both those wins coming from Brandon Semenuk. Travis Pastrana will likely be looking to take home his first win of the season, but it won’t come easily, as all three of the championship leaders will be pushing to the limit.

Subaru Rally Team USA will also be using a new rear wing to help catch Block. The new wing is based on one they’ve previously used in Rallycross and will go to the roof line of the car which is the biggest it can be by ARA guidelines. This is the first major change Subaru Motorsports USA has made to the car in a while. This change was made to be more aerodynamic and as a result, compete more with Block. 

Hoonigan Racing Divison Rundown

Head Hoonigan Incharge Ken Block can take second place in the national standings if he places higher than Semenuk in the rally as well as the power stage, or if Semenuk fails to finish the rally. Block also has a chance to jump into first place if he wins and gets nine more points than Travis Pastrana. While all eyes will be on Ken and the Championship hunt his daughter Lia will also be racing for Championship position. Lia has a chance to take fourth place in the 2WD Drivers Championship, she will take fifth if she gains two points, and fourth if she gains more points than Michael Hooper. Lucy Block doesn’t have much to race for this weekend other than seat time as she sits 23rd in the National Standings. 

Not Where You Want To Be 

Ken Block needs to have a good rally to maintain his spot in the national standings. Although it may sound easy Block doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to the New England Forest Rally he’s only finished three times out of the seven times he’s entered the event with the last coming in 2013 where he won. In 2018 he crashed his 1994 Ford Escort Cosworth which subsequently caught fire, both Block and Gelsomino made it out safely.

Could We See a New Championship Leader? 

The Championship Standings can’t get much tighter and there is no room for error from Semenuk, Pastrana, or Block. All three drivers will push themselves as well as the competition to the limit, and only two will likely finish. Travis Pastrana will be looking for his first win of the season as well as taking a larger lead in the National Standings. Block will be looking for his third straight win and Semenuk will be looking to bounce back. 

My name is Joe Moore, I am a writer for Belly Up HockeyBelly Up Racing, and Belly Up Sports. You can find me on Twitter.

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