Reigning American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Champion Barry McKenna is out of the New England Forest Rally after running into mechanical trouble in his Ford Fiesta WRC.
McKenna and co-driver Leon Jordan had led NEFR after Friday and into Saturday morning, but on the day’s third test they were forced to stop and change a right-rear puncture; costing them over two minutes and the rally lead to title rivals Travis Pastrana and Rhianon Gelsomino.
At service, McKenna admitted “we’ll just have to sit back and hopefully the rally can come back to us, we’re not going to make up two minutes” but he was denied the chance to progress or even maintain his fourth position.
On the very next stage out of service, the repeat pass of Sturtevant Long S-N, McKenna dropped another 38.4s to Pastrana as his Fiesta was stuck in fifth gear.
He made it out of the stage and onto the next transit section where DirtFish’s media team spotted him by the side of the road, the entire intake system pulled out from the engine bay.
McKenna was unable to make a fix, and was therefore forced to retire from the rally before SS11.
It’s a major blow for McKenna’s hopes of retaining his ARA title with Pastrana on course for a fourth win from five rallies and NEFR representing the Irishman’s second non-score; his first being at the Olympus Rally where he pulled out a day before the rally for personal reasons.
McKenna did win last time out on Southern Ohio Forest Rally, but he was restricted to third on the 100 Acre Wood Rally – the debut of his new WRC car – because of a puncture and he also finished third on the season-opening Sno*Drift event.