By MaryAnne Curry Shults | May 22, 2013
This year’s Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally®, presented by Citizens & Northern Bank, more commonly known as STPR®, turns the ‘girl power’ up a notch as champion Nathalie Richard will co-drive with Verena Mei for the tokidoki / TrueCar Rally team in the Fiesta dubbed “Trixie.” The rally is based out of Wellsboro, Pa. and runs Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1.
"I'm very excited to drive with the record setting North American Champion! It will be a great experience driving with Nathalie,” Mei said. “She's won STPR three times, including last year, so I know she'll push me hard. I'm very fortunate to work with empowering women.”
Richard, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, is an eight-time North American Rally Champion, including three wins at the STPR.
"I'm really glad to be back at STPR,” Richard said in an email. “In the past five years, with Antoine, I've won it three times and placed second once so it's very often been a good rally to me. I'm comfortable here at STPR and the fans are always so excited and welcoming!”
Mei's regular co-driver, Leanne Junnila, was invited to give a presentation at an international design conference in Rhode Island, and as a bonus received a scholarship to cover expenses.
Leanne Junnila and driver VerenaMei pose for photos with some young fans at STPR 12.Photo: Facebook/Verena Mei
“There is only one other conference of this kind in the world where delegates from different countries are invited,” wrote Mei on her Facebook page. “She worked her butt off for this between rallies and is totally deserving of it! HUGE CONGRATS LEANNE! SO HAPPY FOR YOU!”
Richard added, "“It's an opportunity that can't be passed up!," referring to Leanne's decision to attend the conference.
Richard’s regular driver Antoine L’Estage will not compete at this year’s STPR after an accident at the Oregon Trail Rally earlier this month that took his Rockstar Energy Drink Team’s Mitsubishi Lancer WRC out of the competition.
With an empty co-driver seat, Mei contacted Richard to fill the vacancy. She said she was disappointed L’Estage couldn’t compete, but “it’s a situation that couldn’t be changed."
Richard and L'Estage and the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team have won STPR three times, most recently in 2012. Photo: Lori Lass/STPR files
Richard and Junnila have known each other for quite some time, both competing in Canada. When she teamed up with Mei, all three became friends. Richard’s gotten to know the whole tokidoki / TrueCar Rally team.“When Verena found out that I was unexpectedly available for this event, she contacted me to fill in her empty co-driver's seat, Richard said.”
“It's obviously a different racing situation than I'm accustomed to,” Richard said, “but Verena is a great person, she puts in a lot of effort into her rally career, and she's a great role model for young fans out there!”
Junnila will return to New England Forest Rally with the tokidoki/TrueCar Rally Team and together, complete the rest of the 2013 Rally America season.
Keep pace with these ladies at STPR as they update their fans via their social media. You can follow them both on Instagram and Twitter at @VerenaMei and @NathalieRally.
The Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally, round four of the Rally America National Championship, celebrates its 37th consecutive year in 2013, the oldest, continuously-running motorsports event in the state of Pennsylvania.