Recce Response: Sno*Drift
Atlanta, Mich. ~ On the eve of the American Rally Association’s opening round of the Green APU National Rally Championship competitors were busy wringing out their recce notes and likely still trying to figure out how to attack this year's Sno*Drift Rally.
Thursday might have given teams a chance to drive the 117 miles of stages, but the common thread coming out of recce is all about how those roads will look this weekend.
Yesterday, rain and spots of snow added to an already icy racing surface. But as darkness settled in, the steady rain shifted to a heavy, wet snowfall. That weather pattern continued well into Friday morning, leaving five to six inches of new snow on the roads, and an attitude change heading into day one of the rally.
"Recce was ok,” said Patrick Gruszka after recce. “We went through three seasons all at once it seemed. Slick in some areas, mud in others. Hopefully this snow keeps coming and gives everyone some decent traction Friday!"
The unpredictability of road conditions will continue to play out throughout the weekend. Temperatures should hover just below freezing when the first car goes out on Friday but will shoot past the 40-degree mark with a sky full of sunshine on Saturday, making any traction gains they see on Friday, negligible on day two.
"Martin (Brady) and I were able to learn a lot during recce,” said RC2 driver Kyle Tilley late Thursday night. “We did mostly new notes this year so we're hoping we're well set up for Friday. The weather changing is going to make things difficult, but I think with the work we put in we're in a good spot."
Defending champion Brandon Semenuk has spent much of the week in Atlanta trying to find a semblance of grip on the ice-covered roads. He talked about how the fluxuation in temperatures affected different sections of the road, like how some areas that had direct access to sunlight had melted, but some parts of the stage hidden by the dense tree line stayed icy. No matter how the racing surface sets-up, the Subaru Motorsports USA driver was still excited to get back behind the wheel.
“It's nice to kind of shake the cobwebs off and get a good feeling in the car again,” said Semenuk. “Yeah, it felt just like home and it's good to be back in the office. We (he and co-driver Keaton Williams) ended last year on a high and hopefully we can keep that momentum going into this season.”
The first car off the road on Friday will be Semenuk, followed by Tom Williams (Ford Fiesta/RC2), Canadian champion Jerome Mailloux (Subaru STi/O4WD), Tilley (Hyundai i20/RC2) and Gruszka (Hyundai i20/RC2). Parc expose will take place in Atlanta on Friday, with the first car scheduled to start at 4:00 PM Eastern.
The 2023 Green APU National Rally Championship will feature eight national rounds, starting in February and finishing in October at the Lake Superior Performance Rally. The ARA also offers up three regional championships across 21 events. To learn more about the ARA, go to https://www.americanrallyassociation.org.