Photo credit @trevorlydenphoto/Subaru Motorsports USA
Goldendale, Wash. ~ Day two of the Oregon Trail Rally moved away from the concrete confines of Portland International Raceway to the rolling green hillsides surrounding Goldendale, Wash.
With two stages completed on Friday night at PIR, it was time for the Oregon Trail Rally to get to the heart of stage rally competition. Eight stages were on tap for Saturday and would set the tone for round four of the American Rally Association’s Green APU National Rally Championship.
Subaru Motorsports USA’s Brandon Semenuk and Keaton Williams continued their on-stage dominance, teaming up to work Saturday’s eight stages to near perfection. They stretched out an 18-second lead at the start of the day to nearly four minutes (3:57) by winning all eight stages.
“All in all, it's pretty good,” said Semenuk. “A lot of sweeping early on and then the last couple loops were great with a bit more of a clean line so we could carry a bit more speed. It was a fun way to end it on Maryhill. Getting a little sideways with the gravel tires was pretty cool, ripping up there through the sunset.”
Saturday featured an excellent showdown for the runner-up spot between Jeff Seehorn/Aris Mantopoulus and Sam Albert/Krista Skucas. Both teams found speed and time when the other couldn’t. Where Seehorn ran quicker than Albert in the morning, Albert was able to reverse the trend in the second half of the day. When the dust settled, Seehorn sat 19 seconds ahead of Albert, who busted a transmission line at the end of the last stage, Maryhill.
“I had good speed on most stages,” said Seehorn. “The car is struggling with overheating issues and power issues, but everything else like driving the stages were fun and we had a good time.”
Albert safely returned to service, and there are no current issues with the Ferrari-induced Subaru WRX STi that sing a near-perfect pitch flying around Oregon Trail’s fast-flowing stages. Sitting third overall, Albert and Skucas will leave Sunday’s parc expose in Dufur, Ore. third.
Javier Olivare and KJ Miller were pushing their 2021 Ford Fiesta through the hot Saturday stages and are sitting in fourth place isolation overall but still leading the LN4WD challenge. It’s a bit testier behind them as Jacob and Michael Despain are sitting fifth overall and second in class, but the margin back to Matthew Dickinson and Chris Kremer is 2.7 seconds.
It will be a fun O2WD chase on Sunday. Nick Allen and Matt James closed out Saturday with the class lead, but Dave Clark and Jamie Willets have their 1999 BMW M3 11 seconds back. Meanwhile, Lia Block and Rhianon Gelsomino jumped into the mix with a pair of fast runs on SS5 and SS9.
In ARA West Regional action, a 1:30 lead heading into the final day would be welcomed by most competitors. Still, Andy Miller and Shaun Tracy are looking for more consistency to close out their second-straight win.
“We're kind of riding on that,” said Miller, “and we were hoping to have a nice clean event here. We had a couple of frustrations, but we worked through them and are going to start fresh and start pushing again tomorrow.”
The pairing of Todd Hartman and Shawn Callahan inside the 2010 Ford Fiesta Proto (once owned by Piotr Fetela) has been good at Oregon Trail. In only the third rally in the car, they sat second overall and picked up a stage win on SS8. But they must remember who’s gunning for them from behind, as Stephen Redd and Dylan Hooker are only nine seconds back in third. Daniel Sperry and Zachary Thomas are fourth (second in NA4WD), and Chris Miller and Crystina Coats are fifth but lead the O2WD regional class.
Tim Wickberg and Matthew Trott have a solid two-minute lead in L2WD. Phil Clarke and Ed Flaisig are in a groove, leading L4WD by 29.1 seconds over Jared Bendt and Tim Tokstad.
Oregon Trail rally navigates south on Sunday missing 12 cars of the original 70. The 58 remaining competitors will be moving into the Dufur stages in Oregon. The Boyd Loop, and thus the Boyd Jump, will start the day, concluding in downtown Dufur, Ore.
In conjunction with Green APU, 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/