Photography via: Josh Sikora
Jeff Seehorn has taken the top spot over the most heavily populated Regional field the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish has seen this year.
Despite being shortened last minute due to area fire restrictions, the Tour de Forest Rally finally ran for the first time since 2019, with 41 competitors tackling the abbreviated four stage schedule, and going all out to battle over the 23 stage miles in Shelton, WA, nearby to the famous Olympus Rally.
Seehorn, who struggled with overheating issues last time out at Oregon Trail Rally, was back in full force absolutely tearing through the stages, and leading by over a minute and 15 seconds by the end of the event.
Seehorn and co-driver Aris Mantopoulos will also be making an appearance at the ARA National Championship season closer in a few week’s time at Lake Superior Performance Rally, where they hope for a similar outcome over the L4WD competition they’ll face there.
Second through fifth place was a complete toss up at Tour de Forest. By the end of the event, only 7.4 seconds separated the four competitors who were all battling for silver, and in true ARA fashion, they came in a unique variety of cars and classes.
Second overall, as well as second in the L4WD class, Matthew Dickinson and Chris Kremer shared the podium with the Seehorn Rally Team, a fitting end for two “Talledega Nights” inspired Subaru WRX STI rally cars.
Dickinson had an up and down rally to say the least. Despite only being four stages, Dickinson was in a different overall position after each one, dropping to sixth overall on the seconds stage, only to make up the four positions to second over the next two tests.
Just 2.6s behind was the turbocharged Subaru BRZ of Derik Nelson and Michael Hordijk. Always a huge threat, the duo were able to easily take the O2WD win by 2m42s over Chris Miller and Crystina Coats in second, and Doug Heredos and Rebecca Ruston who finished third in class.
Less than two seconds behind Nelson, in fourth overall was the team of Matt Brassfield and Kristi Berg, who have been breaking in a new-to-them 2016 WRX STI this season and were able to finish off Tour de Forest by finishing off the very respectable L4WD podium.
Fifth place was the next class winner. Just another 3.1s back, Andy and Darcy Miller took the win in the NA4WD class, marking the sixth straight class podium for the team in the ARA.
Sixth overall and first in the O4WD class was Javier Olivares and Andres Bautista. While the team is no stranger to the stages of the Pacific North West, they ditched their normal 1996 Ford Escort for a full-blown Ford Fiesta Rally3 car, a change that seemed to fit them well.
Seventh and eighth place also rounded out the last two places on the NA4WD podium behind Andy Miller. Daniel Sperry and Zachary Thomas’ 2002 Impreza finished 14.2s ahead of Michael Honn and Brian Donnelly’s 2000 model, though the two teams traded positions multiple times over the course of the four stages.
In a similar fashion, the top 10 overall was completed by the remaining two members of the O4WD podium. Steven Redd and Mitch Meadows debuted a beautiful fresh wide-body Subaru WRX STI build to a respectable ninth overall and second in class, while right behind them Todd Hartmann and Shawn Callahan were debuting their new-to-them Ford Fiesta Proto Car, formerly owned and raced by Piotr Fetela.
Finally, in the L2WD class, it was Niels Kroeze and Julien Sebot taking the top spot, as well as 19th overall. Kroeze and Sebot would be joined on the podium by silver-medal-winning Henry Tabor and Glen Ray, and finally third place Josie Rimmer who made her stage rallying debut alongside 2021 ARA National co-driver champion Rhiannon Gelsomino.