Portland, Oregon (April 12, 2018)
Jeff Seehorn and Co-Driver Karen Jankowski won the first ARA Restricted-Open 4WD class championship last season and placed third Overall, just behind the factory Subaru Rally Team USA vehicles of Travis Pastrana and David Higgins.
A move to a new class, Limited 4WD, along with more competitors joining the ARA National Championship Series, will make a subsequent championship title tough for the Seehorn Rally Team. However, Seehorn has been preparing both himself and his car to succeed against the new challenge by keeping active during the off-season.
He and his wife, Tristan, typically ride motorcycles and bikes together throughout the winter, but this year, Seehorn added some new activities to the routine.
“I've switched to light beer to drop some weight and have been practicing my fist pumps and champagne spray techniques,” he joked.” Actually I've taken up karting this winter and it has been both fun and good training. I've learned a ton – I've been doing a winter series in the Seattle area and the rain weekends have been great crossover training for rally.”
Seehorn, a privateer, has also been improving his Subaru during the off-season. After winning Ojibwe Forests Rally and securing his championship last season, Seehorn towed the car back to his shop in Spokane, Washington and stripped it down to the roll-cage. A full check and refit was in order.
“We washed all the champagne stains off the car for weight reduction and added a lead weighted gas pedal for maximum flat footedness! I've also made some other slight changes to the car. The biggest thing so far is the larger 36mm restrictor we are allowed to run this year. I worked with Fishhead Tuning to retune the car to the 36mm and we picked up gobs of power. I'm excited to see the speed increases this year!”
As the top privateer last season, Seehorn earned a large prize from the Subaru Contingency Program, a big help in funding the team this season. For 2018, Seehorn will see increased competition for that contingency payout in the the Limited 4WD class, but Seehorn admits that he has a different target in mind.
“Yeah, we have a few new contenders this year competing for Subaru money,” he admitted. “Some of them have pretty high-budget builds, however, I'm sure they will have new build teething issues as did we last year. My mind is normally set on win mode, I'm giving it my all no matter what.”
“This year we're competing for overall spots though, so I'm more concerned with setting top times and being consistently fast all year.”
The first event of the 2018 ARA season, the Oregon Trail Rally, is set for the end of the month. Seehorn won his class there last year and stood on the Overall podium, and he's prepared to do it again.
“This year the car is well sorted and we have had more time to test and prep. I feel really good going into the Oregon Trail Rally, it really suits my driving style and we've proven good results there every year.”
“I'm looking forward to trying to close the gap on the factory cars we have seeded ahead of us with the higher output motor. I think we can do it!”
Photo Credit: Alex Wong