McKenna fights back with two 100 Acre Wood stage wins
Barry McKenna has launched a spirited 100 Acre Wood Rally comeback following his Saturday morning puncture as he made up almost 40 seconds on third-placed Brandon Semenuk.
McKenna, who is giving the latest generation of World Rally Car its debut on US soil this weekend, had led the 100AW Rally since SS3 and had pulled over 20 seconds clear of Sno*Drift Rally winner Travis Pastrana after eight of the event’s 14 stages.
But the reigning American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Champion lost over two-and-a-half minutes on SS9 when he picked up a puncture on his Ford Fiesta WRC, dropping back to fourth overall as a result.
He therefore began the penultimate loop of the rally 2m21.9s adrift of new leader Pastrana and 44.7s shy of the other Subaru of Semenuk in third.
The Irishman ends the loop of two stages just 5.8s behind Semenuk who admitted he was “pushing hard” – and 1m47.1s off the lead – after two emphatic stage wins. He won SS10 by 21.2s and SS11 by 10.1s.
“We’re on a push,” McKenna laughed.
Out front, Pastrana has marginally extended his lead over Ken Block who is driving a Škoda for the first time in his career.
“These stages are gnarly,” Pastrana told DirtFish.
“We’re not in conservation mode but Barry is driving like a bat out of hell, he’s going awesome but he’s pulling so many rocks out so we’re backing out a little, just dodging him stuff.
“If we can just not mess up we’ll be alright.”
Block was sluggish on SS10 Loop Southern Alt, giving up 15.9s to Pastrana who was second-fastest behind McKenna, but did hit back on SS11 Scotia North 2 to steal 3.5s back from his rival, trailing overall by 54.5s.
“We had a lock-up and a puncture,” Block said of his SS10 time loss.
“We’ve had good stages today where I’ve won and bad luck so I’m trying. I’m still in second place but it’s been a difficult rally.”
Jeff Seehorn’s no man’s land event continued in fifth but there was change behind him as Enda McCormack moved his Hyundai i20 R5 up into sixth at John O’Sullivan’s expense, only for a 1m40s penalty to be applied to McCormack's overall time for turning up late following a puncture. It dropped him to ninth.
O’Sullivan was quicker in the forests in his Ford Fiesta R5 and now finds himself 1m34.5s ahead of his Irish compatriot in sixth despite collecting his own 50s penalty.
A third Irishman in an R5 – John Coyne – is between them in seventh, 11.5s behind O’Sullivan and 13s ahead of Michael Hooper (Lexus IS350) in eighth. Patrick Brennan (Ford Fiesta Proto) completes the top 10.
Alek Bialobrzeski’s strong rally has come to an end however. The Pole was seventh overall ahead of SS11 of 14 but didn’t emerge from Scotia North 2.
Leading positions after SS11
1 Travis Pastrana/Rhianon Gelsomino (Subaru) 1h02m05.1s 2 Ken Block/Alessandro Gelsomino (Škoda) +54.5s 3 Brandon Semenuk/John Hall (Subaru) +1m41.3s 4 Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford) +1m47.1s 5 Jeff Seehorn/Glen Ray (Subaru) +5m46.2s 6 John O’Sullivan/Cameron Carr (Ford) +11m20.1s 7 John Coyne/Andres Bautista (Ford) +11m31.6s 8 Michael Hooper/Kevin Allen (Lexus) +11m44.6s 9 Enda McCormack/Liam McCormack (Hyundai) +12m54.6s 10 Patrick Brennan/Ryan Dunham (Ford) +14m18.1s