Shelton, Washington (April 28, 2019)
Oliver Solberg and Denis Giraudet of Subaru Motorsports USA have won the 2019 DirtFish Olympus Rally. The pair bested teammates David Higgins and Craig Drew by 25.9 seconds in a heated battle fought throughout the rally’s two days of competition. Piotr Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak maintained their championship lead with a third overall finish.
Sunday’s competition just outside of Shelton, Washington saw drivers tackle 62 stage miles split into 4 long rally stages, all over 10 miles in length. The day’s two identical stage loops started with a pass through the 10.2 mile Windy Cougar stage and followed it up by a drive through the Nahwatzel test. Nahwatzel challenged teams with 20.75 miles of former World Rally Championship stage road.
Yesterday’s cold windy conditions were traded for hot, dry, and still air. The result, dust clouds that hung above the stage road in many places restricted visibility for many drivers. A switch from 1 to 2 minute dust windows helped alleviate the visibility issues.
To catch up on what happened during Saturday’s stages, check out the Saturday report here.
The Overall Top 5:
Solberg and Giraudet started Day 2 of the rally with a 40.4 second advantage over their teammates. But the Subaru Motorsports USA drivers quickly saw their overnight lead shrink to just 15.8 seconds after the day’s first loop, as a hard charging David Higgins and Craig Drew worked to reel in their teammates. The defending ARA champions took 11 seconds back after the day’s first stage and a further 14 on the first pass through the 20.75 mile Nahwatzel stage as Solberg drove his tires down to the chords.
Higgins and Drew continued their push into Sunday’s afternoon stage loop and took a further 2 seconds out of the rally leaders. But with 13.7 seconds to make up and only a single stage to do it on, the defending champions elected to back off and take the points for second place. The win marks Solberg and Giraudet’s first in the American Rally Association and the first win for Subaru Motorsports USA in 2019.
Championship leaders Piotr Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak in their Proto Ford Fiesta continued their fight with McKenna Motorsport drivers Seamus Burke and Martin Brady in their M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 on Sunday. The closely matched teams fought throughout Sunday, but the advantage went the Fetela, and the Fetela Rally Team maintained their third overall finish. Burke and Brady Finished fourth.
Fifth overall were O.D.D. Racing drivers Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn. The pair drove a strong rally after solving the engine issues that plagued the their 2007 Subaru WRX STI for several events. Steely and Osborn started Sunday in a fight with Team O’Neil drivers Dave Wallingford and Leanne Junnila, but the battle ended on the second running of Nahwatzel when Wallingford suffered a flat on stage.
We’ll have detailed reviews of the class battles later in the week.
Provisional results from the 2019 DirtFish Olympus Rally can be found at americanrallyassociation.org/olympus-rally-results.
Raw Quotes from the the overall podium:
Oliver Solberg (Subaru Motorsports USA) - “It’s an amazing feeling! Thank you very much! Winning with the classic Subaru colors and the Solberg on the side window and managing to win, it’s fantastic! I couldn’t even dream about it. It’s been a fantastic race!
“On the last stage, I was very clean and very careful on braking and out of corners to save the tires for a while, then when there was not long left, I could push like hell. It was flat out and we managed, so it was fantastic.”
David Higgins (Subaru Motorsports USA) - “I think when you finish second, it’s not really positive, you know. But it was disappointing yesterday when we lost a lot of time, didn’t lose as much as we could have with the problem. And then today of course we had a good morning getting back into the fight again. And this afternoon we made a tactical decision to not go balls out on the last stage because we knew that he was going to, and you know his tires were on the limit of finishing anyway. He obviously handled the pressure well today and hats off to him for a perfect rally.”
Piotr Fetela (Fetela Rally Team) – “Leading the championship feels excellent! This is a good feeling. We were on an amazing event, and we finished just behind the manufacturer Subaru team. That sounds great to me and I don’t even know what to tell you! I’m just very very happy to me and my team and to my sponsors! Thank you so much!”
“The strategy for today was to just keep it clean and be on the middle of the road. Burke was over a minute behind us, so we just had to keep it clean. If you see a rock, brake and avoid. And that’s what we did and we are here.”
Photo Credit: Tedrick Mealy