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Olympus Rally starts now!


SPEEDWAY Ind. ~ The third round of the 2024 American Rally Association National Championship takes the racing to the famous roads of Shelton, Washington for the Subaru of Puyallup Olympus Rally Presented by Dirtfish this weekend, April 20th and 21st.

 

The rally is characterized by its technical, logging road-based stages, some of which have history dating back to the Group B era of the World Rally Championship, where the likes of John Buffum, Juha Kankkunen, and Rod Millen all tackled the Pacific Northwest’s best.

 

This year, 72 competitors have entered to take on the 150 miles of twists, turns, elevation changes, bridges, mud, water, and whatever else the tricky backroads of Washington can throw their way.

 

A rally as treacherous as Olympus is often characterized by a high attrition rate, meaning in addition to speed, teams looking to win will need a reliable car, strong, accurate pace notes, and a driver who doesn’t fatigue on the sometimes 20-mile stages.

 

Brandon Semenuk comes into the event leading the National Championship with two straight wins at Sno*Drift and the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, and while Pastrana and McKenna aren’t here to battle him this time, if the past has been any proof, anything can happen at Olympus.

 

The Longest Rally on the Calendar

Coming in at 150.4 miles for the National Championship and 146.9 miles for the regional entrants, the Olympus Rally is aimed at being the longest rally on the 2024 ARA calendar.

 

Making up those 150 miles will be 15 stages plus a national-only power stage adding the 3.5 miles extra to their Sunday.

 

Saturday will see the running of four stages two times each for a massive 92.72 stage miles in one day.

 

Surprisingly, nearly half of those competition miles will come from a infamous Nahwatzel stage, which will be run twice back-to-back with a service in-between. With over 20 stage-miles in one go, drivers will battle a little bit of everything Olympus has in one go, potholes, mud, loose and fresh gravel, jumps, and possible water splashes.

 

Other Saturday stages include Kuhnle Short, a tight and twisty with a heavy tree cover that ends with a one mile super steep downhill section, Schafer Long, a flat and fast stage that could see dust issues in the wide-open areas, and Deckerville 43, a fairly smooth stage overall despite some deep rutting after the spectator area.

 

After all that, still nearly 58 miles await the drivers on Sunday as they take on some of the other famous stages of Olympus. Not So Stillwater starts off the day with high-speed racing over potholes, five separate bridge crossings, and a possible jump by the finish.


After a pass through the tight and twisty Plug Mill, the drivers meet Wildcat Short, a new version of the often make-or-break stage that keep all of the difficult and deceptive parts that it has come to be known for.

 

Finally the PowerStage is a 3.49 mile section of the prior days’ Nahwatzel that is smooth and flowing on hard-packed roads, sure to allow National teams to push as fast as possible for extra points.

 

This weekend’s weather looks to be calm for Olympus standards with two days of sunny weather in the 60s preceding the rally, and the same continuing into the race days except for a small chance of light showers Saturday afternoon.

 


Testing Thursday at Olympus

Semenuk Favorite to Win with Pastrana Out

While there’s always sure to be good competition throughout the national field in the ARA, the top end might feel a bit empty as Pastrana dropped out of the field earlier this week

 

“Legendary Subaru Motorsports USA driver Travis Pastrana will miss [Olympus] as he undergoes further treatment for a damaged hip and to aid in recovery following a knee replacement late last year,” Subaru said in a statement.

 

“Decades of record breaking, jump landing, and sliding sideways through every imaginable terrain have been punctuated by a string of injuries for the action sports icon.”

 

Though Pastrana won’t be there, co-driver Rhiannon Gelsomino will be on-site signing autographs and meeting fans at Parc Exposé this weekend, and is ready as ever to get back in the car.

 

Subaru teammate and ARA National Championship leader Brandon Semenuk will be the favorite to win, bringing the Subaru ARA24 to the PNW for the first time. Semenuk will be hoping to make it three-in-a-row this year at what always proves to be one of his best events.

 ***

Competing with Semenuk and co-driver in the O4WD class will be Matthew Dickensen and Chris Kremer in their Subaru “Chimera” and of course, Sam Albert and Krista Skucas in their Ferrari V8-powered Blob-Eye Subaru. The three of them will likely be fighting for a spot on the podium with lone RC2 entrants, John Coyne and Aris Mantopolous.

 

A pair of Fiesta Rally3 cars driven by Javier Olivares and Nick Allen will be battling against the 2005 WRX STI of Jordan O’Connell for O4WD rights, with Andy Didorosi, Madelyn Tabor, and Haowen Chu all representing the NA4WD half of the LN4 Championship with the class-favorite GC Impreza platform.


The Open 2WD class is sure to be one of the best battles we’ve seen this year. Multi-time champion Seamus Burke will be competing in his V8-powered Ford Escort with co-driver Martin Brady against a field of some of his toughest competitors he's ever faced.

 

Fresh off a championship win with Lia Block at the wheel, the Nordic Motorsports Subaru BRZ is back in the hands of owner Derik Nelson and co-driver Michael Hordijk who are no strangers to proving themselves in the PNW rally events.

 

The hardy Lexus IS350 of Michael Hooper and Claudia Barbera will join the fight as well, with the wildcard entry of Ryan Booth and Nick Dobbs also looking to take the top spot in their Escort MKII.

 

Finally, the L2WD class has the most entries with seven hopeful pairs ready to fight for the top spot in their class, and maybe even upset some faster cars. 2021 L2 Cup winner and 2022 runner up Roberto Yglesias alongside co-driver Michelle Miller could be considered favorites, but with a field including Mark Tabor, Alastair Scully, and Sean Donnelly, it’ll be a hard battle to win.

 


Testing Thursday at Olympus - Photo by Vlad Tyeryekhov

Regional Open 2WD Sees Massive Entry

In the regional rally this year, a massive 22 cars have entered the highly competitive Open 2WD class making up over 40% of the entire regional field!

 

The sure-to-be competitive class is headlined with David Clark and Jamie Willetts in their always-sideways 1999 BMW M3, but plenty of people will be looking to take them down.

 

Making a debut in a newly-built 2018 Toyota Yaris will be Julien Sebot and Steve Harrell. Sebot is back in the FWD game after a year of experimenting with RWD cars, and is sure to be a threat with one of the best new builds in the US.

 

John Hill and Daniel Norkus will be kicking it old school in their 1968 Ford Escort which has been known to to podium in the past, but last year’s class winners Eric Bailey and Jordan Rock will be looking to repeat their success in this years competition.

 

With 18 other competitors in their class though, it’s a toss-up who we’ll see topping the podium after nearly 150 miles of Olympus roads.

 

One class down, the L2WD field sees 10 entries including Henry Tabor. One of five Tabors racing this weekend, Henry is fresh off of a Porsche GT3 Cup race win at Thunderhill Raceway earlier this month, and is the reigning class champion in the West region. Last minute update: Henry has just withdrawn from the event, will miss his entry!

 

Tabor will be taking on Chris Miller, Jonathan Compton, Lucas Chalcraft, Johan Friesen, Jeff Castro, and more for the win.


Of course, the 4WD classes will see plenty of action as well. The Ford Fiesta Proto of Todd Hartmann and Shawn Callahan is always a favorite to win the regional overall. The duo took home gold at 100 Acre Wood just last month, and are looking to make it two in a row as they head back into their home-region.

 

Main competition for Hartmann will likely be the NA4WD EZ30R-powered WRX STI of Andy Miller and Shaun Tracy, and the wide-body STI build of Steven Redd.

 

Spectators of the rally can find all the information they need in the Spectator Guide, and fans can follow along from home by following the ARA on social media, and watching for day-end reports here on our website.


~ Mason Runkle for ARA


For more information about the American Rally Association, and to get involved, visit our

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