Shelton, Washington (May 20, 2018)
Subaru Rally Team USA drivers Patrik Sandell and Per Almkvist overcome Day 1 troubles to win Olympus Rally, their first win in the American Rally Association. Jeff Seehorn and Karen Jankowski put on a flawless performance to take second place overall and first in the Limited 4wd class. The win propels Seehorn and Jankowski into the lead of the ARA National Championship Series, ahead of David Higgins and Craig Drew. DirtFish drivers Sam Albert and Michelle Miller raced strongly to earn their first national-level podium, placing third overall and second in L4wd.
“It was a great fight and a great rally,” said Sandell. “It was the first rally for me here with ARA in America, so I'm super excited for that and I'm super excited for Subaru that we could take it home and make it a win. The roads out here are just fantastic and Subaru gave us a fantastic car, so I just had to do the easy thing and drive it.”
Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan started Sunday with a one minute lead over Sandell, but a loss of power caused by a broken input shaft on the day's first stage ended their event early. In a strange twist of fate, David Higgins and Craig Drew suffered a nearly identical mechanical failure in a completely different car. After reentering the event under super rally rules, the pair's Subaru also broke a gearbox input shaft, ending their rally.
Fourth overall and third in L4wd were Matthew Dickinson and Daniel Piker in their second ever national-level event. The pair had a steady drive and managed to avoid the attrition that plagued many of their rivals.
Blake and Tricia Lind won a hard fought battle in the NA4wd class against Andy Miller and Shaun Tracy this weekend. The rivals started the day separated by a mere 1.3 seconds, but a 40 second penalty Sunday morning put Miller and Tracy at an early deficit. They fought back throughout the day, taking 32 seconds back before the event's final stage. But it wasn't meant to be, a broken rear caliper saw the pair lose brakes on the day's final stage, forcing them to drop out of contention for the win to finish the event.
Rounding out the NA4wd podium was the namesake of Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman and Krista Skucas. After starting Sunday morning under super rally rules, Kaufman drove a more race, nearly ending the day without further incident. Nearly. On the day's final stage, Nahwatzel II, Kaufman went wide in a corner, having an off and glancing a tree. The car, mostly undamaged save some broken glass, finished the event, giving Kaufman a national podium in his first-ever stage rally event.
Erik Potts and Claudia Barbera-Pullen took first in the Open 2wd class after driving a steady event free of major issue. The win sees them take the O2wd championship lead, ahead of Jason Bailey and Leanne Junnila.
Second in O2wd were Chris Miller and Tiffany MacDonald in their Ford Focus. Starting today under super rally rules, the pair's time penalties removed them from contention, but the finish gives them valuable championship points.
After spending Saturday night repairing the rear suspension of their Ford XR4Ti, Dave Clark and Jamie Willets reentered Olympus under super rally rules. Unfortunately, the repair didn't hold, and their rear suspension collapsed for a second time on the first running of Nahwatzel, forcing their retirement from the event.
Failing to finish the event in a spectacular way were DirtFish drivers James Rimmer and Rhianon Gelsomino. The pair were showing an impressive pace this weekend, taking the third fastest time on Saturday's seventh stage, but their rally ended Sunday morning with a high-speed crash and rollover. Both drivers have been cleared of serious injury after a precautionary trip to the hospital, a testament to modern safety standards.
Full Olympus Rally results can be found here.
Next up for the American Rally Association is a trip east, to the Susquehannok Trail Performance Rally in Wellsboro, PA. With just two weeks until STPR, teams will have limited time to re-prepare vehicles for the competition, giving a potential advantage to teams that kept the car clean at Olympus. Find out, and join us as teams take on the Pennsylvania Forests on June 1st and 2nd.
Photo Credit: Alex Wong (Top, 1, 2), Rhianon Gelsomino (3)
About American Rally Association
A member-driven organization dedicated to the sport of Stage Rally, the American Rally Association provides a transparent, inclusive, and growing sanctioning body to competitors throughout America. A 501 (c)(3) non-profit and wholly owned subsidiary of the United States Auto Club (USAC), ARA is led by seasoned Stage Rally professionals who work hand in hand with an experienced Board of Directors to deliver a framework for safety, competition, promotion, and education for all aspects of the sport. The common goal of our members, volunteers, and organization is a thriving Stage Rally program in America.