Freddie Milne has taken victory in the American Rally Association New York Forests Rally after long time leader Barry McKenna elected not to check in after the final stage.
The recently-crowned ARA National Champion had dominated proceedings in his WRC-spec Ford Fiesta RS2000, but elected to hand the overall win to Scotsman Milne at the finish.
Organized at late notice due to the cancellation of the ARA National Lake Superior Performance Rally, the New York Forests Rally was disputed over eight special stages and 39.7-miles.
Having taken a minute’s lead into service following a “slippery” opening test of the rally, McKenna had extended his advantage in the first stage of the second loop, winning the first pass of NY Thruway by 4.6s from Ryan Booth’s Škoda Fabia R5.
McKenna then built on that margin in the next stage (Route 17 Out) by a whopping 22s.
Booth had leapfrogged Milne into second overall in the first stage after service but fell out of the event with suspension failure on SS6.
The Booth/Milne battle had been shaping up to be the best of the rally before Booth’s unfortunate retirement, with the pair split by just two seconds at service.
Booth had been clawing back time over the course of the opening loop, having beaten Milne in SS1 by 3.2s.
Milne then got ahead of Booth on SS2 and held a slender margin heading into SS5. At the time of Booth’s departure, the two crews had been separated by a mere 1.7s.
The result of Booth’s retirement left Milne in a comfortable second place, over two minutes clear of Piotr Fetela in his Ford Fiesta R5.
That then became the rally victory when McKenna decided not to check in at the finish as a gesture of sportsmanship as he had been involved in the organization of the rally.
Fetela was engaged in a promising squabble with Martin Donnelly’s Fiesta R5 for third, with the latter closing to within just eight-tenths of a second on the penultimate stage.
A superb final stage effort from Fetela allowed the Pole and his American co-driver Rachelle Kaltak to open that gap to over five seconds for what became second place at the finish.
Enda and Liam McCormack completed the top five in another Fiesta R5.
Mark Piatkowski emerged as the best NA4WD driver with eighth overall, just behind the 2WD Open class winner Seamus Burke’s Ford Escort Mk2.
A clean second loop for Dennis Romero ensured he and Sebastián Guerrero took L4WD class honors in their Subaru Impreza STi. The pair finished 10th overall and some 27.7s clear of Greg Roumianstev’s Mitsubishi Lancer E10.
1 Milne (Ford Fiesta)
2 Fetela (Ford Fiesta)
3 Donnellly (Ford Fiesta)
4 McCormack (Ford Fiesta)
5 Rowley (Ford Fiesta)
6 Burke (Ford Fiesta)
7 Piatkowski (Ford Fiesta)
8 Smith (Ford Escort)
9 C McCormack (Subaru Impreza)
10 Romero (Ford Escort)