Noble Star Rally Atop the Podium at NEFR
The Noble Star Rally (NSR) Team stood atop the podium during last months New England Forest Rally (NEFR), the 6th round of the 2019 American Rally Association’s (ARA) National Championship series. This is the second event of the season where NSR had two of their cars bringing home some hardware.
On 19-20 July, 72 teams began to navigate through 115 stage miles that crossed between the Maine and New Hampshire state lines. These stages vary in character, and challenge teams to stay in control as they cross bridges, dance through chicanes, experience surface changes from gravel to tarmac, and then switching gears between fast flowing and twisty, technical rocky covered roads. NEFR stages contain more total airtime for cars that anywhere else on the ARA schedule. Teams see jumps over crests, under braking, and leading directly into sharp corners. By the end of day 2, only 47 cars finished the event, demonstrating the many challenges of the forest stages.
NSR’s Matt Peterson and Lori Clute took 1st in class amongst the L2WD competitors and 17th overall in the National standings. Day one went smoothly for the duo as the continued improving on their average speed and pace. They were happy with their pace notes and the car was handling the tough surfaces well until they had to navigate through Icicle Brook; the last stage of the day, the car took damage to the cooling system, which was not repairable, thus setting the tone for day two. With high temperatures outside of the car, the team and car suffered even further and risked heat exhaustion as the heater had to be run on full blast to keep the car running. With sheer determination, and doing their best to keep hydrated, the team made it to the finish.
“NEFR has been my favorite event as long as I've been rallying. Last year we had a great performance placing second, so this year was going to be hard to top. We had an off on the first time through the Azischohos stage and my steering was jammed by a large rock between the wheel and skid plate. I thought something broke and we were done but kept rocking the car until it dislodged and we could continue, but by that time we had lost nearly two minutes. We kept a consistent pace throughout the remainder of the day, but our times were not on par with what we were expecting. In the end, we were surprised to find that out persistence had put us in first place for our class!”, says Peterson.
The all women team of Amanda Skelly and Sarah Freeze finished 1st in the NA4WD class and 15th overall. Of the 6 teams to compete in the National NA4WD class, Skelly and Freeze were the only ones to finish, and did so unscathed. NEFR was novice co-driver Freeze’s first completed ARA rally, and Skelly’s first time placing at the top of her class in the National series in her rally career.
“We came to NEFR with the goal of finishing the event which would allow us to get more seat time, start finding our rhythm as a new team together, and get Sarah some more experience as this is only her third time calling notes. While we were pushing, I was trying to conserve our suspension as we had bent the rear struts on day 1. We were only paying attention to our own times, trying to follow our own improvement throughout the weekend, so finding out we finished first in class was a huge surprise to us, and something we will never forget,” says Skelly.
After a full day of training at the Florida International Rally & Motorsports (FIRM) Park, Skelly came into NEFR prepared to push her own limits. The ladies were consistently improving their stage times throughout both days, making up anywhere from 10-18 seconds on the second pass of a stage. Skelly’s crew kept busy in services, changing out a coil pack, chasing an electrical gremlin, clearing rocks from the brakes and wheels and ensuring the car was functioning properly and ready to take on each new challenge the two days of racing provided. With both cars taking the lead in their classes, the Noble Star Rally team are thrilled with their results.
“I have been waiting a long time for this moment. Seeing the looks on our crew members faces when they called us up for the champagne spray made me feel like my heart grew ten sizes. I couldn’t do what I do without my rally family, so this event wasn’t just a victory for me and Sarah, or Matt and Lori, it was a victory for all of us as a team, and that moment was more than we could ever ask for” concludes Skelly.
You can spot both NSR cars competing in Detroit Lakes, MN at the Ojibwe Forests Rally on 23-24 August.
2019 Partners: Link ECU, TurboTime, Whiteline, The FIRM, DCCDPro.com, BRAID Wheels USA, Team Illuminata Motorsport, Turtle Gloves, 5 Star Design, Restoration Race Works, INC., Impression Center & Rocky Mountain Autosport.
You can follow the teams along online and via social media below: