Brennan/Crescenti Repeat as Winners of Empire State Performance Rally
NARROWSBURG, NY — For the second year running, the Irish/American duo of Patrick Brennan and Aaron Crescenti (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10) were the overall winners of the Empire State Performance Rally (“ESPR”). Gerard Coffey/Andrew Browne (Subaru Impreza RS) placed second, 4-1/2 minutes behind, but well ahead of Dennis Romero/Jose Maria Rodriguez (Subaru Impreza WRX STI). Arek Bialobrzeski/Aris Mantopoulos (Subaru Impreza) placed fourth.
The rally began on Saturday morning under sunny and unseasonably mild conditions. Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan took an immediate lead in their 1977 Ford Escort Mark II, gaining a few seconds on the competition on each special stage. It was an impressive performance in a rear-wheel-drive car over rival entries with all-wheel-drive, although the 40-year-old car was equipped with contemporary mechanical parts. Brennan/Crescenti kept to their own pace, and finished the day 2-1/4 minutes behind. Coffey/Browne were a further three minutes adrift. 2015 runners-up Alvin Fong/William Machin (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) were in the top five all day, but were taken out at the finish of the day’s final special stage, when the engine’s electronics failed.
The competition resumed on Sunday morning under overcast skies and mild to moderate rain. McKenna’s Ford suffered a broken differential on the first test of the day, handing the lead to Brennan. According to Crescenti, from there they tried to motor fast enough to maintain the lead and their concentration, but slow enough to avoid going off-road in the deteriorating weather.
Back in the pack, the brothers Joshua and William Girtain (Ford Fiesta) made a dream debut in national-level rallying. After losing 10 minutes on the first morning for an off-road excursion, they paced themselves and became the only two-wheel-drive entry to complete the course, and therefore the 2WD class winners, placing ninth overall.
ESPR 2017 was the final national rally of the National Auto Sport Association 2017 season. The route was 203 miles in length, over two days, all on roads in Sullivan County, in the Catskill Mountains of New York State. The course included 116 miles of special stages (speed tests against the clock) on private dirt and gravel roads.
1. Patrick Brennan/Aaron Crescenti (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10), 1 h, 53m, 42s
2. Gerard Coffey/Andrew Browne, (Subaru Impreza RS), 1h 58m 13s
3. Dennis Romero/Jose Maria Rodriguez (Subaru Impreza WRX STI), 2h 01m 45s
4. Arek Bialobrzeski/Aris Mantopoulos (Subaru Impreza), 2h 03m 18s
5. Martin O’Flynn/Philip Barnes (Mitsubishi Eclipse), 2h 14m 24s
6. Robert Bean/Derek Michelin (Subaru Impreza), 2h 15m 08s
7. Percy Lopez/Santiago Alban (Subaru Impreza WRX), 2h 16m 06s
8. Kenneth Little/Donald Vaughn (Subaru Impreza 2.5I), 2h 18m 33s
9. Joshua Girtain/William Girtain (Ford Fiesta), 3h 00m 14s, 1st 2-wheel-drive
10. Christopher Almon/Steve Pulzone (Subaru Impeza WRX), 3h 11m 39s