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Solberg Claims 2019 STPR Championship
17 Year-Old Oliver Solberg from Norway wins 43rd Running of Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro
Oliver Solberg, from Norway, driving the factory Subaru WRX STI, won 11 of the 15 stages to claim his second win for Subaru Motorsports USA in the American Rally Association series, surviving some late mechanical problems to best Subaru teammate David Higgins by less than a minute in the 43rd running of the Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro, Penn.
Solberg, who will be 18 years-old on September 23, and co-driver Aaron Johnston, from Northern Ireland, led Higgins from the very first stage, building his lead to almost two minutes until stage 14 on day two, when his 4WD Subaru lost its rear-wheel driver, and he lost 33 seconds to Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew.
“The conditions were rough and very muddy, but our crew did a great job fixing the problem before the last stage, and we were able to retain our lead for the win,” said Solberg.
On Friday, spectators braved temperatures in the 50’s and rainy conditions to watch racing stages in both the Pennsylvania State Forests and at the Waste Management facility, with Saturday bringing warmer temperatures, but lots of mud.
For Solberg and Johnston, from Northern Ireland, the triumph at STPR was their first win together as former Subaru WRC co-driver Denis Giraudet stepped in to guide Solberg to his first U.S. win. Higgins’ second place finish was enough to secure his tenth US rally crown – his eighth with co-driver Drew – with one round still to go.
Barry McKenna, from NYC, and co-driver Andrew Hayes, who fought back from an early off-road excursion early in the rally, back to claim third in his WRC-engined Ford Fiesta S2000.
McKenna began the rally by setting the third fastest time on the opening stage, but dropped down to 17th one stage later after getting beached at a hairpin and dropping seven minutes. No damage was sustained and he was able to continue.
Piotr Fetela, the Polish driver now living in Chicago, and winner of the season-opening Sno*Drift Rally in Michigan, went into STPR second in the ARA series points, finished fourth in his Ford Fiesta Proto FRT after being overhauled by McKenna on the seventh stage.
Ramana Lagemann, from Boston, Mass., had been running in a solid third place for much of the first day of the event, but retired after sustaining suspension damage on the second Waste Management stage (stage 10). He and co-driver Chrissie Bevis, from San Diego, Calif., did not run on day two of the event.
Other national class winners included Cam Steely/Preston Osborn – Subaru Impreza (limited 4WD); Nathan Usher/Marianna Usher – Subaru WRX Wagon (normally aspirated 4WD); Michael Hooper/Claudia Barbera – Lexus IS350 (Open 2WD); and Santiago Iglesias/Steve Harrell – Subaru BRZ (limited 2WD). Wellsboro’s Jeremy Keck and co-driver James Quattro from Syracuse, NY finished fifth in the normally aspirated 4WD class in Keck’s Subaru Impreza.
In the ARA Regional rally (the field ran all 15 stages that the national entries ran, but the entries were scored separately as these entrants are not running for the national championship points so they pay less for an entry fee), Mark Piatkowski, from Rockaway, NY, and co-driver Aris Mantopoulis, from Brooklyn, NY, took the overall Regional title by more than five minutes in their Subaru Impreza.
Local Regional finishers include Derek Dekar/Jesse Dekar from Sayre, Penn. in their Ford Fiesta (winning the limited 2WD class); Derek James/Westfield, Penn. and Jesse Apostolakis/Greenfield, Penn. in their Ford Fiesta (fourth in the limited 4WD class); Tony Esposito/Franklin, Penn. and Matt Kennedy/Hinsdale, NH – third in the Open 4WD class); and Kent Thompson/Brianna Thompson from Wellsboro in their Subaru Impreza (fourth in Open 2WD). Charlie Tameris/Cody Marvin from Wellsboro did not finish in their Porsche 944.
Press release by Andy Schupack
Videography: Andrew Moore, Aidan Fletcher
Video Editing: Andrew Moore
Writing: Andy Schupack
Anchor: Ed Weaver
Correspondent: Sara Vogt
Produced by Vogt Media