Semenuk wins Oregon Trail Rally
Brandon Semenuk has closed out the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National season with a controlled victory on the Oregon Trail Rally ahead of Subaru Motorsports USA team-mate Travis Pastrana.
Semenuk beat Pastrana by 23.4 seconds with Ken Block another 26.4s adrift in third.
While it was 2021 champion Pastrana that led the event after the two Friday evening stages at Portland International Raceway, Semenuk was dominant on the first full day of gravel action to move more than half a minute clear.
His push was aided by Pastrana puncturing on SS3 and Block encountering an ECU connection problem on SS7, but Semenuk set a blistering pace to take command of the event.
Pastrana was the quickest driver on the final day, shading Block – who was just 2.1s behind overnight – and eating into Semenuk’s lead, but Semenuk’s advantage was sufficient enough to secure him his first ARA victory in over a year.
Block’s pace dropped off significantly on the second half of Sunday but the Hoonigan driver – who won last month’s Lake Superior Performance Rally – was battling an electrical gremlin in his Subaru.
On his first ever rally in the USA, Hamad Al-Wahaibi greatly impressed with fourth place and some strong times compared to the more powerful Subarus in his McKenna Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2.
His only drama of the weekend was a puncture on Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Tilley had been tipped to fight Al-Wahaibi for RC2 class honors on OTR but any hopes he had of a result were dashed on Saturday morning when his Ford Fiesta R5 refused to fire up with electrical failure.
Tilley did however manage to compete on Sunday and set some competitive times, trading seconds with Al-Wahaibi, before crashing out on the 18th and final stage of the event.
Javier Castro didn’t quite manage the same pace, but that was no mean feat given his R4 Toyota is less powerful than Rally2 machinery. Castro – also contesting his first ARA event – was a solid fifth overall.
Enda McCormack edged John Coyne to sixth place while George Plsek scooped eighth in his Mitsubishi.
Ninth belonged to Derik Nelson who topped the two-wheel-drive class in his Subaru BRZ. Tony Torchia rounded out the top 10 ahead of Mark Piatkowski who was confirmed as the LN4 class champion when he started the event on Friday.
Overall classification after SS18:
1 Semenuk/Hall (Subaru) 1h24m30.8s
2 Pastrana/Gelsomino (Subaru) +23.4s
3 Block/Gelsomino (Subaru) +49.8s
4 Al-Wahaibi/Sircombe (Ford) +5m57.4s
5 Castro/Agesta (Toyota) +8m48.2s
6 McCormack/McCormack (Hyundai) +11m36.3s
7 Coyne/Dunham (Ford) +12m07.8s
8 Plsek/Skucas (Mitsubishi) +13m20.8s
9 Nelson/Grahn (Subaru) +15m11.1s
10 Torchia/Ruston (Subaru) +16m00.5s