Piatkowski grabs maiden ARA win as Semenuk retires
Updated: Feb 22
Mark Piatkowski has won his first ever American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship event as Subaru Motorsports USA's Brandon Semenuk retired from an eight-and-a-half minute lead with a gearbox problem on the second-to-last stage of Sno*Drift Rally.
Semenuk - paired with Takamoto Katsuta's former World Rally Championship co-driver Keaton Williams for the first time - was the clear favorite for success on the 2022 ARA season opener given team-mate Travis Pastrana is still recovering from his pelvis injury, Ken Block is over in Africa competing and Barry McKenna had to pull out of the event at the last minute due to work commitments.
And, despite conditions that were more treacherous than usual due to a more prominent layer of ice on the top of the stages, Semenuk stuck to the script on the first day to move nearly five minutes clear of the chasing pack after the six stages.
He kept up his rhythm into Saturday too, with his run of stage victories continuing for 11 stages and winning the first ever ARA powerstage in the process. However Semenuk was beaten on SS12 as he spun his Subaru WRX STI. His lead remained intact, standing at a seemingly insurmountable 8m29s at final service.
But having survived the worst Sno*Drift could throw at him, Semenuk pulled up on SS14 of 15 - the second pass of the demanding Camp 30 test - with gearbox trouble.
That suddenly put reigning LN4 class champion Piatkowski - competing in a modest Impreza without a turbocharger - at the head of the pack with just one stage to go.
He was understandably incredibly cautious on the final stage Thunder River, but came home to record a sensational 2m49s victory - the first for a non-Open class car since Jeff Seehorn won the Idaho Rally in 2019 - over Tilley and Philip Wearn's Subaru.
Ivo Draganov won the ARA Regional section of the event in his Subaru WRX Wagon ahead of Jon Kramer and Stephen Gingras.