New England Forest Rally (NEFR) stands as the final round of the Rally America 2010 Championship Series. Antoine L’Estage tops the leader board with 87 points going in, but Bill Bacon is only 13 points behind him. Who will be crowned champion this year? A brief * EXCLUSIVE * interview with Bill going into NEFR.
We know you had your sites set on besting Block in the championship. Now Block is out of contention and you’re engaged in a Mitsubishi dogfight for the final podium. It would seem this has been a monumental year for the championship. How has 2010 treated BMS?
2010 has been a great year for BMS. We have had very good luck and everything has gone as planned throughout the season. I would not say that we set out to beat Block, specifically, as much as we were hoping to be competing in that upper tier of competitors. I feel that we have accomplished that. The fact that we are actually in contention for the championship is amazing to me. We have been able to put the car on the podium every event this year except for the Olympus Rally. The truth be told we had the 3rd podium spot at Olympus as well, but penalty time was added for hitting a chicane and there was a minor timing error on our part. Beyond those issues I know that we have been at a podium “pace” for the entire season.
With just one event left on the Rally America schedule, is it mathematically possible for BMS to overtake L’Estage in the points race and take home the trophy? What will it take to make that happen?
There is a possibility we could still win the championship. Antoine would have to have an issue of some sort in order for that to happen. Our team has actually become very close with the Rockstar Energy team this year and I would hate to see Antoine lose the championship due to some stupid issue. If I had been faster all season I may have a different opinion. Keep in mind though that the Rockstar Energy team has some significant financial support that we lack. They are in the upper tier I was referring to earlier. Money or not, Antoine has really earned his position this year, besting us at every event except Oregon Trail.
The pressure must be intense. What’s going through your mind as you go about your daily routines back home before NEFR?
At this point the pressure is off. The long trips out west are over. The short turn around between the west coast events and STPR is behind us and things are back to normal. I have about a month to re-prep the car and its only 3hrs drive to NEFR. We have already secured 2nd in the championship before NEFR even starts. I think very few people really understand the time and money and time and time that have gone into this. I have a slight feeling of satisfaction with these results. I have always felt that, given the opportunity, I could run at the front. This year with a sliver of the budget of the other teams, a less powerful and nearly five year old car, we have done just that. I am proud. Proud of myself and my efforts and of my family for sticking this out, especially my father who is working on the car at least as much as me. My parents are probably never get to retire now either. Thanks guys!
What’s the plan of attack for NEFR? Maximum attack? How hard are you going to make things for L’Estage?
I am going into NEFR hoping to have another good result and most importantly have fun. Nothing I can do can win me the championship so its back to the roots of simply having fun rather than racing for points. Naturally the spirit of competition is still there so we will go quickly, but we have to keep in mind that the X-Games are 2 weeks later in LA. If we have a big off we will never make it in our own car. By the way we do plan to attend this year for the first time!
Bill and Peter will be charging into the woods of Maine the weekend of July 16th and 17th for the final round of the 2010 Rally America national championship. Will L’Estage hold on to the lead or will Bacon fry him before the final control? Whatever happens, we wish both Mitsubishi drivers – and indeed, the entire field of competitors – the best runs of their careers.
May the cars and the stages be kind, and may you all trade times with your closest rivals the whole weekend long. Here’s wishing everyone at New England Forest Rally all the thrills of their first rally. Press on regardless.
All images (save L’Estage & Bacon on-stage) courtesy Mike Constable of FotosByMike.