Part 4: In the last segment of Chuck Long’s interview of instructor Chris Duplessis, the boys chat about Chris’ future rally plans and what he thinks he’ll be driving down the road (no pun intended…).
TON – Now the 2WD, you’ve been dealing with that since you built your own GTi back almost 10 years ago now and started with that. What are your expectations here in the future? Are we going to see Chris Duplessis in the future challenging Antoine [L’Estage] and [Dave] Higgins in an all-wheel drive, or is it still going to be 2WD?
CD – I think the classes here with Rally America are kind of tough. I definitely want to keep doing more international stuff, and really the only class that is kind of close to it is 2WD. If you get in a car like Antoine’s or the Subaru and it’s an Open class car, which is only here in the States, and you get used to driving that car and then you try to go drive something else like a production World Rally car, it’s more like a Group N car. So there’s nothing that really translates as far as my experience to get better other than a Fiesta or an R2. So I’ll probably stay in a Fiesta just because there’s no need to move up to a car that’s kind of obsolete for any other part of the world. But, if Subaru called me up some day and said, “Drive a car” then that might change, but right now I’m having fun in the Fiesta and I’ve got another year in my contract so we’ll see after that.
TON – Yeah, in Rally America the Fiestas came in and Ford stepped up and it’s become really competitive. There’s more and more of them, and even some of the all-wheel drive specialists are realizing, “He’s top five in the States running that R2, what’s the deal?” It is a good, tough car. Do you think it’ll grow in another year?
CD – I think in Pennsylvania we had six Fiestas, which was awesome. I was talking to Will Orders and he showed some interest in going into a Fiesta, which would be awesome – having more competition, faster guys. You know, you’ve got Dave and Antoine at the top, and it would be really cool to have a bunch of Fiestas chasing them down. I think Ford’s definitely behind it; I think it would be cool if more manufacturers got in. Even Fiat in this country now, they actually build an R2 car – it’s a Punto, kind of looks like a Fiesta. But it would be cool if a few more manufacturers got in and built a car or brought some cars over, because that would just make the sport better. And maybe eventually Rally America would see the value in 2WD, like the British Rally Championship now is a 2WD championship – the top overall championship goes to 2WD now. Maybe at some point we’ll see that here.
TON – It’s peaks and valleys here in the States, and it seems like with Ford’s interest in what you’ve been doing, it’s still nothing like top flight European, but we’re getting more and more entrants at each event, National and Regionals, than we’ve seen in a while. I can’t recall the exact years but I remember when John Buffum was running the Maine rally with SCCA and it was standby to get in on it. Hopefully that scenario starts coming back, and I think you’re part of that too with the 2WD, that would be nice to see.
So you’re taking off this weekend – good luck, best of luck with it, and hopefully things run well. We’ll see you back at some point soon.
CD – Thank you!