Fast, brutal, daunting - A look at the 100AW Rally stages
Recce day is an important part of any American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship weekend. On Thursday, teams took to the stages of the 100 Acre Wood Rally, obeying the 35mph speed limit to gather all of the information they could in two passes to create their notes.
DirtFish has caught up with some of the competitors to see what they’re expecting this weekend, and there seems to be two things on most competitors' minds: forecasted rain and the dreaded Southern Loop.
Co-driver to Ken Block, seven-time event winner
The event features two very different days and stage synopses.
Day one is very fast and flowing, with very well built roads that feature a very smooth surface with some well-defined camber. SS2 is probably the most challenging stage of the first leg due to the high speeds and many crests and small jumps. The repeat of the stages should feature little damage to the road and a well swept surface.
Day two is almost a completely different rally, with some narrower but also rough sections. The grip deteriorates in the middle of the stages, since they are roads that aren't commonly used the rest of the year.
The expected wet conditions will create some unpredictable grip as well as some even rougher conditions when the stages are repeated in the afternoon. Last year there were many punctures on those stages (ran in the opposite direction) and I suspect the same will be this year.
It will be critical to stay out of trouble and keep the car in the middle of the road.
11-time ARA National entrant
The first time I came and I ran here, it was my second rally, coming from Sno*Drift. The first year I ran here, they actually had the big round haybale chicanes. And those were incredible. Those were great, I'd love to see them come back with those big round haybales and use those chicanes.
The majority of the roads we’re running this year, I think we ran back in 2017. Everything seems to be pretty dry, but I think they're calling for rain. So right now, we're just looking at how that's going to affect in looking back and looking at the notes.
Generally, looking at it, these new virtual chicanes with RallySafe are going to be an interesting concept. I’m not 100% a fan of the location of them, it seems to me that they put them in the best flowing part of the stage, and then they left the high-speed stuff wide open. But other than that, the organizers have a lot of work there to do. So I don't want to take away from them on that.
As we all look at Southern Loop [during this recce], it's historically been a stage that has changed the outcome of a rally. There's about a mile-ling section in the middle there that's just brutal. If you talk to the old-school guys, they’ll say it’s a great stage, it’s a big separator between it all. If you talk to the guys that have fancy cars that have big splitters on the front and stuff like that, it becomes a very expensive stage. So I think that Southern Loop will live up to its reputation. I think that [stage] will probably be a big determining thing in the outcome.
I would say that Pigeon Roost [will be my favorite stage this year]. It's always been one of my favorite stages. I think they were limited with what [organizers] could grab this year, but they've done a really good job of the stages. The roads are seem to be pretty forgiving, and it is going to be fast. We're going to see some pretty high speeds.
I don't really think there's been a lot of changes [over the years]. I mean, the roads change, but the consistency out of the organizers, and the volunteers of this event, I think, is the reason that, you know, that's probably why I've done it so many times.
11-time ARA Regional entrant
I don't have the greatest record here at 100AW but we have ran these stages quite a lot. Dust is always on my mind when I come to 100AW but it looks like the rain forecast for Friday morning will definitely keep the dust down for the whole weekend.
All the stages here are generally wide and fast but two stages specifically I have my eye on.
Floyd's Tower is one of the fastest stages here but is easy to get a wheel wrong/miss a note etc and easily end your rally. The other stage is Southern loop. It starts off easy enough but quickly becomes the roughest stage at 100AW with lots of water crossings after rain. It's pretty common for cars to missing parts after running Southern loop.