Olympia, Washington (October 5, 2018)
Tour de Forest Rally is kicking off Saturday morning and the stages are set. Today's recce of the revived event revealed a great mix of fast straights, tricky hairpins, and steep elevation changes. The 115 stage miles of Tour de Forest echo events past, many roads unseen in competition for a decade or more along with two entirely new stage roads await to challenge competitors this weekend.
The TdF roads wind their way up cliff faces, speed across open fields, and twist through dense forests. The road surface is mostly gravel, but the below the loose rocky surface lies a hard and extremely compacted road bed. Several of the weekend's stage roads are also cratered with potholes; lower spec cars may have difficulty in these sections. The rally weekend will cover over 2500 ft of vertical elevation change, from 250 ft above sea level at its lowest point to over 2800 ft at its highest.
Rain throughout Friday's recce has created a slick surface with a good amount of standing water. Today's storm has filled those pot holes and drainage cutouts, littering the racing surface with small muddy water splashes capable of temporarily blinding competitors. With Saturday's early start and dense tree cover, standing water is likely to be encountered throughout the day and into Sunday. Fortunately, the forecast is looking clear throughout Saturday, with minor fog predicted for Sunday, so more open sections of stage road should dry up.
Competitors are set to tackle this new challenge, here's what they thought after today's recce.
David Higgins – Driver, Subaru Rally Team USA
“The stages are fantastic; there's so many roads around here with a great variety. Tomorrow's stages are really fast in places and then Sunday's are very tight and technical. Very wet out there today, I think tomorrow there's still going to be some wet patches under the trees ready to catch us out; which is why I've given Patrik the opportunity to go first and find the slippy bits.”
Patrik Sandell – Driver Subaru Rally Team USA
“The roads remind me a lot of Rally GB that's going on right now back in Europe, same kind of conditions – it should be a good one. I think we got really good notes from today, so I just have to trust them tomorrow and go fast.”
Karen Jankowski – Co-Driver, Seehorn Rally Team
“Great, but very wet, day pre-running all the roads for this weekend’s rally. Roads are fun and technical, just like we like them. It will be interesting to see how much moisture stays on the roads for tomorrow, especially when choosing what tires to run.”
Sam Albert – Driver, DirtFish Rally Team
“The new stages look awesome with the proper mix of speed and treachery. The characteristic Washington weather will add to the mix requiring the right combination of bravery, luck, and restraint to ensure a solid finish.”
Krista Skucas – Co-Driver for Keanna Erickson-Chang
“Recce went swimmingly today. The roads are a blast but wet, wet, wet. Fast and flowy, yet tricky with surprises, it’s no wonder these used to be WRC roads!”
Blake Lind – Driver, Primitive Racing
“We won recce – first team done! Today's rain makes dust not an issue, great news after the conditions in Idaho. Though we're thinking of carving a few tires for Saturday's stages, we're expecting mud.”