Rally America revs up for Oregon Trail Rally

The Rally America National Championship competition heats back up after a two-month break at the Oregon Trail Rally on 02 – 04 May in Portland, Oregon. The Oregon Trail Rally is the only three-day event on the Rally America National Championship 2014 calendar.

The event begins Friday evening with four stages of tarmac and gravel roads at Portland International Raceway (PIR). The continuous race action at PIR is a fan favorite with teams being easily accessible for photos and autographs prior to the start of the event. After the PIR stages, the event moves east towards Dufur and Hood River where teams will experience the much faster roads on Saturday and then the very technical gravel sections on Sunday.

The Oregon Trail Rally couldn’t come at a better time for current Rally America points leaders, David Higgins and Craig Drew of Subaru Rally Team USA, who are in the midst of defending their 2013 title. Higgins/Drew opened the new season with a Sno*Drift Rally overall win, followed by a second place finish at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. Now, Higgins returns to the Oregon Trail Rally where he has won the event five times before including the last three consecutive years.

Higgins will need to beat action sports icon and teammate, Travis Pastrana, who re-joined the Subaru Rally Team USA this year after stepping away from the sport to pursue a career in NASCAR. The four-time Rally America champion also boasts two Oregon Trail Rally victories as well, and he is certainly eyeing Oregon to establish momentum heading into the season’s midpoint.

The Super Production (SP) Class battle will be hotly contested with a deep field of past champions and a hot new driver leading in the standings. 2013 Rookie of the Year’s Nick Roberts finds himself atop the field by 2 points over another SP newcomer, Dillon Van Way. The Oregon Trail Rally was the site of a massive wreck for Roberts in his rookie season. Returning to this event may invoke a nervous response from Roberts who remembers the wreck vividly.

Roberts still needs to prove he can win against hot shoe Dillon Van Way and previous SP Champion drivers Lauchlin O’Sullivan and David Sterckx. Both O’Sullivan and Sterckx experienced early season troubles and have marked Oregon as the event to reinsert their teams back into the championship hunt. O’Sullivan suffered a big crash at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood testing sessions and lost significant ground because of it. Sterckx, on the otherhand, continues to battle mechanical problems, which has impacted his ability to win this year.

The Oregon Trail Rally is expected to be another pivotal event for the Two-Wheel Drive Class (2WD) battle being waged between Scion Racing Rally xD’s Matthew Johnson and Team O’Neil Motorsports’ Andrew Comrie-Picard. Both drivers have claimed a 2WD victory this year, but only Johnson has finished on the podium at both events.

Johnson and Comrie-Picard are aware of the recent entry of Will Orders in a Nameless Performance prepared Toyota GT86. Orders is a 2WD powerhouse from Australia who took the 2WD Class win at the 2012 Oregon Trail Rally. With his entry Orders will add one more dynamic element to the competition already raging between Johnson and Comrie-Picard.

Fans will have opportunities to visit with the teams and see their cars up close at Parcs Expose, service locations, spectator areas and the victory celebration. Download a free spectator guide to view the event schedule, maps and locations of each viewing point at http://bit.ly/1hPlZip. All the spectator areas are free entry, except at the Portland International Raceway stages. PIR Admission is $10 per person, children ages 6-12 are $5, and children under 6 are free. The Oregon Trail Rally will host a public Saturday fan party at the Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River on Saturday, 03 May at 7:30pm.

The Oregon Trail Rally is scheduled to be televised on the NBC Sports Network on 01 June at 6:00pm EDT/3:00pm PDT. The show is a mix of the best rally racing action and behind-the-scenes look at why drivers risk it all in this amazing sport.