Everything you need to know about 100 Acre Wood
After an exciting start to the 2022 American Rally Association Presented by DirtFish National Championship in Atlanta Michigan last month, the series heads south to the forests of central Missouri for the 2022 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.
Last year’s event had what was at the time the most competitive field in years in American rallying, and this year is sure to top it once again.
While on Sno*Drift competitors struggled to gain speed, there should be no issues in that area for 100AW, but where there’s plenty more speed, there’s also much rougher roads, and more water crossings than anywhere else in the ARA.
There’s plenty to unpack as we head into 100AW, so join us for all that you need to know to follow along an exciting early round of the ARA National Championship!
Surprise points leader Mark Piatkowski steps into the RC2 class for the first time to cover for an absent Kyle Tilley, hoping to extend his points lead as much as possible in a faster car.
The return of Subaru Motorsports USA in full force with both Brandon Semenuk and Travis Pastrana, as well as Ken Block and Barry McKenna will make it difficult for him as the M-Sport R5 Fiesta will struggle to match the performance level of the top cars.
The could be some upsets in the overall top five via Pat Gruzska in his first non-snow event in an Open Class Mitsubishi Mirage, as well as Paul Rowley in his Fiesta R5 modified with a larger restrictor. Of course, Pat Moro is always a fan favorite with his V8-powered Chevy Sonic.
Piatkowski will be joined by some of the best in the RC2 class. Last year’s class champion Enda McCormack, as well as last year’s RC2 class winner at 100AW, Johnny O’Sullivan will be tough to beat first time out in the new car.
Another first-timer in RC2 will be Marc Russell, who is competing on his first ever stage rally. Meanwhile, recent Black Rifle Coffee Company recruit Tom Williams will try to build on the momentum he started last year in a Fiesta Rally2.
Open 2WD will be missing the steadfast reliability of Michael Hooper and his IS350 this year, but will still be a hot class to watch. Seamus Burke and Martin Brady return in their one-of-a-kind MKII Escort, while Cam Steely, Brad Morris, Micah Nickleson and Cian McCormack are some of the favorites.
Also joining the O2WD class for the first time will be 15-year-old Lia Block. She is moving from an R1 that she drove at the end of last year up to an R2 Fiesta, hoping to leave her mark early on this season.
The Limited 4WD, Naturally Aspirated 4WD combined class has plenty of competition this year with Dave Carapetyan, Arek Bialobrzeski, Will Graham, and Dylan Murcott being some of the immediate favorites.
With such a huge line-up, there are plenty of others to keep an eye on. Rock legend Vivian Campbell has been improving with every rally he does, as does Phil Wearn in his WRX STI. Mike Glover and Bucky Lasek will also be ones to watch as recent recruits under the BRCC rally team.
Finally, L2WD will be hotly contested with nine entrants this year. The most restricted class of the rally has 2021 L2WD champion Roberto Iglesias as the favorite, but with Alex Ramos, Paul Dickinson, and a slew of other talents anything could happen.
The ARA Central Regional Championship is about to start picking up at 100AW. After 13 teams competed on the Nemadji Trail Rally for this championships season opener, and just over 20 competed at Sno*Drift, 100AW will have well over 40 regional competitors taking to the stage, many no-doubt looking to make up for lost time.
The competition at the top of the field is tight, with Jimmy Pelizzari and Zachary Jacques being the favorites in the O4WD class. After an absolute max attack showing at Sno*Drift Patrick Glodz may be ready to take those two head-on.
Stephen and Katie Gingras will be competing for NA4WD class victories, but also to take the Central Regional Championship lead from Sno*Drift Regional winner Ivo Draganov, who is absent from 100AW. Ryan Rethy and Jacob Despain will be ones to watch for passing them up.
O2WD in Regional should be just as exciting as in National. Mike Hurst in his beautiful 1974 Capri will be one to watch for taking the win in this class – and to look good while doing it. Al Dantes Jr. will be chasing him down in his V8-powered RX-7, Rexine. Dantes also holds second overall in the Central Regional points standings and will be looking to score as many more as possible. One to watch for this class will be Nigel Maidment in a Tower City built Lexus IS350, a similar build to Michael Hooper, last year’s National 2WD winner for 100AW.
Chris and Lori O’Driscoll as well as Michael and Morgan Engle head into the rally as favorites for the L4WD class win, but there’s plenty of room for the rest of the field to pull an upset.
And of course, L2WD will likely feature some good battles for the Regional win. Mark Rokus and Cory Grant will both be driving 1980s VWs and are highest in speed factor, but Michael Eckstein in a Lexus IS250, as well as Chris Nonack and Tim Wickberg, each in Subaru BRZs could easily take top spot this weekend.