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  • Writer's pictureARA Staff

Semenuk Drives New WRX to Ojibwe Win, Engle Outlasts Rethy for Regional Overall

Detroit Lakes, Minn. ~ Day two of the Ojibwe Forests Rally was a mix of prayers and pedigree on Saturday. But as the sun set on round seven of the Green APU National Rally Championship, it was a massive milestone win for Subaru Motorsports USA and a remarkable run in the American Rally Association's Central Regional tilt.

Brandon Semenuk and co-driver Keaton Williams have shown patience, preparation, and precision this season as they look to defend their 2022 ARA National Championship. After socking away six straight wins to open the ARA calendar, Semenuk and Williams came into round seven with a new focus: get a win at the debut event for the 2023 Subaru WRX Open Class car.

Much like its pilot and co-pilot, the car looked, sounded, and handled like a championship-caliber rally car over the weekend. A large part was the year-plus development of the new ride, but also the unmistakable ability and partnership forged between Semenuk and Williams over the past 18 months. They teamed up for 15 stage wins, including seven on the event's second day and the final Power Stage win.

The day started with a mostly clean run by all competitors on SS9, but the schedule was quickly interrupted on SS10. Seamus Burke and co-driver Gary McElhinney suddenly stopped on the second stage of the day. With the rally on hold, a responsive Burke was evaluated by safety and medical crews. Burke was transported by air to the closest trauma center for further observation following the assessment and safety procedures.

ARA officials would cancel the rest of SS10, as well as SS11 and SS12, and transit team back to service for a controlled regroup and the final four stages and the national power stage.

After the break, the competition for the final two podium spots would heat up between Javier Olivares (co-driver KJ Miller) and Matt Dickinson (Chris Kremer). The two are in a tight LN4 points race, and it was also a see-saw weekend on the leaderboard. They entered the day 22secs apart, and Dickinson set quick time on two of the final five stages (including a close power stage win (class). But Olivares held the advantage coming into the day and extended his lead by an additional 8secs on Saturday for second overall.

The third-place duo of Dickinson and Kramer wouldn't go away empty-handed, as they picked up the Ken Block 43ver Flat Out Award at Ojibwe. They overcame a mountain of obstacles over the weekend, including brake issues, flat tires, and steering problems, to finish third overall, win the power stage, and end the weekend second in class

In Open 2WD, it was going to be a close rally between Burke and Michael Hooper (Michael Hordijk). They entered the day with a 7sec difference, but after Burke went out off on SS10, Hooper steadied the ship and drove to class win and fourth place overall finish, both of which were one spot better than fellow O2WD competitors Nathan Odle and navigator Glen Ray.

In Limited 2WD, Sean Donnelly (Zach Pfeil) took over the class lead from Chris Sladek (John Sharps) on SS13 and didn't give it back for the win.

Engle Energized by Regional Win

It was a strong, fast regional field at Ojibwe this weekend, and the tandem of Mike Engle and Ryan Scott were on top of their game in Northern Minnesota.

Engle entered the day with a 45sec lead over 100 Acre Wood winner Ryan Rethy (James Dallman). While the racing was close over the final four stages, Engle picked up time all day and extended his winning time to 54.5secs. It was Engle's second win in the past three Ojibwe rallies.

On his first trip to Ojibwe, Rethy would take home top NA4WD honors (and second overall). Rethy has been impressive in recent years and has finished on the overall podium in seven of his last nine starts while picking up seven class wins.

David Peretz (Cora Masson) did everything in their control to track down Rethy but was unable to catch the runner-up, finishing third overall and second in NA4WD. Stephen and Katy Gingras were much sharper on Saturday than on Friday, finishing fourth overall and third in NA4WD.

Levi Johnson (Griffin Johnson) now has three class wins in a row, thanks to another quick ride in O2WD. Johnson also took class wins at Headwaters and 100 Acre Wood and finished fifth overall.

In his second rally, Richo Healey (Michelle Miller) partnered up for the regional Limited 2WD victory while finishing tenth overall.

The Lake Superior Performance Rally will conclude the ARA's Green APU National Rally Championship on October 13-14. Up next for the American Rally Association is the ARA East Super Regional Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro, Penn., September 15-16.


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