Burke Moves up in LSPR Standings
Ken Block continues to dominate the Lake Superior Performance Rally, round seven of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Championship, but there’s been another change in the fight to be his closest challenger.
Tom Williams started off the rally as Block’s nearest rival until he had a nose-first landing on SS4 that broke the underside of his car.
Joseph Burke would have moved into second place off the back of that if it wasn’t for a 10-second penalty and so instead Paul Rowley became the target man (as Block was already way out of reach for everyone) for the Friday evening loop.
He was able to consolidate his position by almost 45s in a Ford Fiesta R5 identical to Burke’s, but that hard work slowly unwound itself on Saturday morning’s stages and after the first two tests of the day he is down in third and 0.3s behind Burke.
On SS9 Silver Arvon, the slippy 9.5-miler that opened the day, Rowley dropped a massive 43.2s to Burke and was only the seventh fastest driver through the stage.
That left him with a slim 1.5s margin to play with – after Burke’s penalty was revoked – on the Hernan Nestoria stage that followed, but it was eradicated by Burke who went 1.8s faster. “We’ve had a problem with a misfire,” Rowley revealed to DirtFish.
“So we’re not sure [what’s the fix]. It happened yesterday morning on the first stage. We changed our sparks and plugs and we were hoping that that was it, but it’s difficult now to diagnose because it went away yesterday. And that’s the worst thing about electronic gremlins, it’s when it goes away we can’t get a really good handle on it. Hopefully we get something done in service here, but right now we’re hemorrhaging a little bit of time to Joe. It is what it is, it’s rallying.”
While there is disappointment for Rowley in dropping to third, the Irishman is still on course for his first ever overall rally podium and has a handy gap of 2m34.8s to Dave Carapetyan in fourth.
Between them there had been Grzegorz Bugaj, but the Subaru WRX driver had his day end just a few corners into SS9 with what was believed to be a mechanical issue. His retirement benefitted fellow Subaru WRX pilots Carapetyan and Zachary Jacques, who shuffled up to fourth and fifth.
Mark Piatkowski hit trouble in his Subaru Impreza on SS10, as he lost third gear and then had a hampered run to the end of the stage.
In the Open two-wheel-drive class, Ryan George has lost the lead in his BMW M3 and now sits behind Mike Hurst. On SS9 he was 41.2s off the class pace, set by Hurst in his Ford Capri, and that left him 38.3s back in second place. He clawed back 2.6s on SS10, where Al Dantes Jr was fastest in class in his Mazda LSRX-7.
Leading positions after SS10 1 Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino (Subaru) 1h20m06.8s 2 Joseph Burke/Nick Dobbs (Ford) +6m40.6s 3 Paul Rowley/Darragh Mullen (Ford) +6m40.9s 4 Dave Carapetyan/Ryan Scott (Subaru) +9m15.7s 5 Zachary Jacques/Ronald Jacques (Subaru) +11m09.4s 6 Will Graham/Claudia Barbera (Mitsubishi) +11m25.8s 7 Kyle Tilley/Tim Whitteridge (Ford) +12m06.0s 8 Mark Piatkowski/Aaron Crescenti (Subaru) +13m08.7s 9 George Plsek/Krista Skucas (Mitsubishi) +13m40.0s 10 Mark Williams/Steven Harrell (Subaru) +15m24.9s