2020 ARA Championship Review: East Regional 02WD
The 2020 American Rally Association, Presented by AMSOIL season was one that will not be soon forgotten. The new year brought optimism, growth and high expectations with nineteen events on the original schedule. But a pandemic hit and put the roller coaster of rally on hold after just one national and one regional were in the books.
But after seven months of uncertainty, teams began to roll back into paddocks, starting with the Southern Ohio Forest Rally, a first time ARA national. From there, the national and regional series picked up steam, and despite some early season cancellations, competitors found seven more opportunities to rally, including the late-season add of the newly minted New York Forest Rally.
Over the next several days, the ARA will individually recognize our 2020 National and Regional Champions with a snapshot of how they got to the top spot. Today we focus on the ARA East Regional Open 2WD classs.
Cooper's Consistency Pays Off
The mostly all-white with multi-blue and red stripping 1991 BMW 318is driven by Calvin Cooper and Co-Driver Kelsey Stephens was a mainstay at ARA events in 2020. The duo from Cooper Autoworks ran five rallies last season on their way to their ARA East Regional Open 2WD titles.
Cooper and Stevens picked up points at all five rallies, including third place finishes at Sno*Drift, SOFR and the Ojibwe Forests Rally. Add that into the 13 points they nabbed at the Missouri Ozark and Show-Me rallies gave them a seven point lead in the final standings over Ryan George and co-driver Heather Stieber. Cooper just missed out on a top three overall finish in the East Region, but Stephens nudged past Philip Barnes for third overall in the Co-Driver standings.
George and Stiever rallied to three second place finishes in the O2WD class in 2020. The duo piloted their 1995 BMW M3 to runner-up spots at SOFR, Ojibwe and Show-Me, the only three rallies they took part in this season.
The class also offers up another consistent recognizable car: Al Dantes' 1987 Mazda LSRX-7, affectionately known as Rexine. The Tower City Race Team driver held onto the third overall spot in East O2WD thanks in large part to his class win at SOFR. He followed that up with a sixth at Ojibwe and third at Show-Me.
While Dantes was all alone in third for the Driver championship, it turned into a log jam for the same spot in the Co-Driver's Championship. Four people tied at 17 points in the final standings. Jeremy Wimpey, Scott Rhudy, Shanti Witt and Andrew Ecker were all winning co-driver's in 2020, but none grab points at a second rally.
Wimpey took the win navigating for Ojibwe winner Mike Hurst in August. Rhudy started the year off by leading Gabriel Jachsohn around Sno*Drift in January. Witt was co-driving with Dantes during the night stages win at SOFR and Ecker took the catbird seat for Adam Hardin's win at Show-Me.
Up Next: Tuesday review of the ARA East Regional Limited 4WD class.
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