Oregon Trail Rally: First Look
Speedway, Ind. ~ The American Rally Association crisscrosses the United States with eight national events, dubbed the Green APU National Rally Championship. It also encompasses three regional championships, including 12 Super Regionals (8 are held in conjunction with the national events) and nine regionals.
One of those upcoming events is the ARA's fourth round of the Green APU National Rally Championship: the Oregon Trail Rally. Registration for the event opened in March, and 70 cars will rally this weekend. Here's an ARA: First Look at Oregon Trail and who will be starting tonight at Portland International Raceway:
No rally on the American Rally Association's schedule offers as many breathtaking views as the Oregon Trail Rally. After the fan-fest atmosphere at Portland International Raceway on Friday night, Oregon Trail moves east down the Columbia River Gorge, stopping first near Goldendale, Wash., where a mix of technical, twisting roads hug the many cliffsides in Klickitat County. Sunday roams south, where the stages will offer competitors a bevy of high-speed, wide-open rolling roadways through the picturesque wheat fields in Wasco County (Oregon) and the dense forest ridgeline rods surrounding Hood River.
With snow-packed mountains dotting the horizon, competitors will be in full-attack mode this weekend. Speed and horsepower are paramount at Oregon Trail, but keeping both body and car temps down will be vital on Friday and Saturday, as temperatures will reach near 90 degrees with little wind to ebb the heat.
Oregon Trail Rally will cover 116 miles (108 for regional) over 19 stages. While the roads are a great attraction, the main focus will be on an opportunistic field that allows several talented drivers to reach the overall podium.
Brandon Semenuk and Keaton Williams will look to keep their stranglehold on their overall championship lead. They have paired up to win the past four ARA National events but are looking for redemption after finishing second at OTR in 2022.
The rest of the national competitors will be chasing the defending champions at Oregon, with Jeff Seehorn (Aris Mantopoulos) looking to back up his successful 2023 debut at Olympus (second overall) by winning his first ARA national since his Idaho win in 2019.
Sam Albert (Krista Skucas) debuted their monster build of a 2004 Subaru WRX STI with a Ferrari motor at Olympus. Still, early rally issues left everyone wanting more from one of the most unique builds rally has ever seen. So expect them to put on a hard charge this weekend.
It will be a deep battle in LN4 (combined podium for Limited 4WD and NA4WD) bragging rights in Oregon. Matt Dickinson (Chris Kremer) sits third overall in the national championship but had a challenging rally at Olympus. However, Dickinson does have multiple podiums over the past few seasons, including a pair of seconds at OTR in 2017 and 2018.
The pressure in class will come from Jason Bailey (Shayne Peterson), who pushed his 2013 Ford Fiesta, who won LN4 at Olympus. In addition, Ele Bardha will get his trusted co-driver Corinna Roshea back after she missed Olympus. It will be Bardha's first trip to Oregon Trail, but he is coming off a pair of third-place finishes at Olympus and 100 Acre Wood.
The two-wheel drive class lost a bit of power with the late withdrawals of Seamus Burke and Michael Hooper, but the future of the class will be on display in Oregon.
Lia Block (Rhianon Gelsomino) turned heads at Olympus as she piloted her 2013 Subaru BRX to her first career class win. That's two podiums in a row for the Block-Gelsomino pairing after they finished second at 100 Acre Wood.
David Clark (Jamie Willetts) will be up for the challenge at Oregon. Clark, who finished second in class at Olympus, has finished second in 02WD at Oregon Trail in three of the past rallies.
Oregon Trail Rally will also count towards the ARA West Regional, with OTR being the third round of the 2023 championship. There are 54 regional entries into Oregon this weekend.
Andy Miller and Shaun Tracy were dominant early at last month's Olympus Rally on their way to their first career overall win. Miller has been successful at OTR, winning his class and finishing third in 2022 and second overall in 2018.
Steven Redd (Dylan Hooker) finished fourth in class at Olympus, but Redd has a history of success at OTR. He won the O2WD class in 2017 but will push Miller for the overall and O4WD points this year.
Jason Cochell/Chris Salas), Spencer Crabb/Peter Crabb, and Todd Hartmann/Shawn Callahan will be in the mix for the overall. Hartman, who took second in regional O2WD at Oregon in 2022, will compete in O4WD this weekend behind the wheel of his 2010 Ford Fiesta.
Two-time defending West O2WD champion Julien Sebot (Steven Harrell) is making his 2023 debut at Oregon. He leads a deep two-wheel drive class at Oregon, including Chris Miller (Crytsina Coats). Miller finished third in class at Olympus but is also the defending O2WD class winner at Oregon.
Chris Cyr (Martin Headland) is making his Oregon Trail Rally debut this weekend. He will have his hands full with Tim Wickberg (Matthew Trout), who won the Limited 2WD class at OTR in 2022 and was second in 2021. Henry Tabor and Oliver Smith will also push for a second straight podium after the duo won the inaugural Ken Block Flat Out 43ver award at Olympus.
Spectators will have ample opportunity to see the Oregon Trail Rally up close. Friday night will host a parc expose and two Super Special Stages at Portland International Raceway. In addition, there are two official spectator areas on Saturday (Dalles Mountain and the tarmac-filled Maryhill Loop) and Sunday (Starveout and Boyd Loop).
On Sunday, the 2023 Oregon Trail Rally will present trophies and awards in downtown Dufur, Ore.
Live event coverage of the 2023 Oregon Trail Rally can be found in partnership with DirtFish and its DirtFish Live Coverage. Exclusive content, including rally updates, video coverage and interviews can be found all weekend long at: https://dirtfish.com/tag/dirtfish-live-center/