Semenuk Leads Day One at Sno*Drift
Atlanta, Mich. ~ The 2023 Green APU National Rally Championship has started in similar fashion to the 2022 season: Brandon Semenuk is on point and leading Sno*Drift after day one. The Subaru Motorsports USA driver won all six stages on Friday, including a narrow stage five win over Tom Williams by three-tenths of a second. The defending American Rally Association national
champion was in command over the rest of the ever-changing as road conditions became more complex as the night wore on. “The roads were definitely in better condition than I thought for the first pass,” said Semenuk. “Definitely some slippy-bits, and as the night went on, they got quite a bit slippier. The last stages were super, super icy and reminded me of last year. “But we got through today which is kind of like the tricky roads. Tomorrow's roads you can push harder on most of them so we can definitely try and put some good stage times down and enjoy the drives.”
It took Williams a bit to find his pace in his 2022 Ford Fiesta. He sat third after the first stage but started finding a more competitive balance over the final five roads, which was helped after he made a critical adjustment. “I ran the first two stages without anti-lag which was a mistake because I didn't have any reaction in the car,” said Williams “After the first stage I threw the anti-lag on, which was great because I could get myself out of big moments.
After the first stage, Canadian Rally Championship champion Jerome Mailloux looked comfortable in his first Sno*Drift start. But he was searching for traction the rest of the night as he adjusted to a winter rally that doesn’t allow studded tires. He sits third overall behind Williams and was hampered by a difficult stage five where he lost nearly three and a half minutes to the leaders. “It was tricky,” said Mailloux. “Sometimes we had grip and sometimes we were searching for grip. So, I need to be more focused on the braking and understand the road.”
William is also leading the RC2 class ahead of a pair of Hyundai’s. Kyle Tilley is sitting second in class and fourth overall. Patrick Gruszka is 16-seconds beyond him, and sixth overall. Fifth overall goes to L4WD class leader Matthew Dickinson, who is competing in his second career winter rally (Big White). Dickinson lost some time on stage two but steadied his pace inside his Subaru WRX STi on the final loop. The battle behind him for the final two podium spots will be fun to watch on Saturday. Vincent Trudel, Jason Bailey and Ele Bardha are within 22-seconds of each other. Michah Nickelson leads the national two-wheel drive charge heading into Saturday. He sits almost three minutes ahead of Nick Allen in Open 2WD. Limited 2WD has Gerardo Hernandez ahead of Josh Armantrout and Santiago Iglesias.
In ARA East Regional competition, Jon Kramer took a substantial lead after the first loop, but Jimmy Pelizzari dug into over the final three stages, including winning the final two stages on Friday night. Pelizzari cut 16 seconds off Kramer’s lead over those two runs, but still has to erase a 32-second deficit on Saturday. “Conditions were pretty good, and it definitely got slippy at night,” said Pelizzari. “But it's a lot of fun just learning the car and the conditions and just trying to keep it on the road and give people a good show. We had a pretty good pucker moment at about 90 miles an hour over some crests and facing 180 degrees in the wrong way but we came around the other direction and kept going.” Tim Michel is third overall and second in NA4WD. Robert Dupree (fourth overall) is 32 seconds behind Michel and second to Pelizzari in O4WD. Sam Jacques (NA4WD) rounds out the top five. Scott James (O2WD) is tenth overall and leads all two-wheel drive regional competitors heading into day two. Nick Bukky is the top running L2WD. Tom Mayer leads in L4WD. 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.