|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 15, 2023
American Rally Association
MARQUETTE, MI ~ The American Rally Association capped the 2023 Green APU National Rally Championship on Saturday as competitors tackled the final fifty miles of the historical Lake Superior Performance Rally in the picturesque, deep woods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
The final national stages of the 2023 season offered up a rougher ride than LSPR's opening day, and with several championships still up for grabs, it was a white-knuckle ride on Saturday.
One of the few drivers that can make any stage look like a Sunday drive is the ARA's defending national champion, Subaru Motorsports USA's Brandon Semenuk. Along with his trusted side-kick Keaton Williams, Semenuk was once again masterful at LSPR. He stretched a 4min 38sec lead from Friday into an 8min 6sec win on Saturday. Semenuk won all 17 stages at LSPR, including the national-only Power Stage, which gave him an additional five championship points (not that Semenuk needed the points as he had wrapped up his second-straight ARA title in August).
Recently crowned 2023 ARA RC2 champion Patrick Gruszka (co-driver Florian Barral) wrapped up his first season in his 2019 Hyundai i20 with his fifth overall podium finish and fourth RC2 win. Gruszka was joined on the RC2 podium by Enda McCormack (Sean McCormack), who finished sixth overall. McCormack did everything in his power to get to Saturday's finish after his Hyundai suffered a hole in the radiator.
Sandwiched between the two RC2 drivers (and co-drivers) was a battle brewing all weekend. It also included a season-long showdown between Matt Dickinson and Javier Olivares for LN4 supremacy. Dickinson entered the weekend with a six-point class lead. But Olivares (KJ Miller) would finish the rally third overall behind Gruszka and took the LN4 victory as well. Dickinson (Chris Kremer) finished fifth overall behind Grzegorz Bugaj (Elizabeth Dziubanski), unofficially putting him two points behind Olivares. Olivares also secured three crucial class points on the power stage, edging out Dickinson by a narrow 3.9secs.
Dickinson, however, did garner enough overall points to finish third overall in the ARA Green APU National Rally Championship.
Arek Bialobrzeski (Aris Mantopoulos) finished the day where he started, seventh overall and first in NA4WD. With Andy Didorosi (Betsy Nguyen) finishing third, Bialobrzeski has unofficially secured the ARA's NA4WD Cup. Travis Mattonen (Anikka Nykanen) finished tenth overall and second in NA4WD.
Michael Hooper (Michael Hordijk) and Nick Allen (Matt James) were the last two national Open 2WD competitors standing after the 130-mile rally concluded. Hooper won 16 of the 17 stages between the two, including the power stage, and finished eighth overall. With Lia Block securing the ARA National O2WD title before LSPR, Allen was looking to hold off Hooper for second overall. Allen had a 19-point lead and needed to finish LSPR to hold onto the spot. Hooper grabbed 25 points in Michigan to move into third overall, 11 points behind Allen.
Santiago Iglesias (Robert Kassel) was 33.7secs behind L2WD leader Chris Sladek (John Sharps) coming into Saturday. He flipped the script as the fastest driver in class on all nine second-day stages to earn his second win (tenth overall) of the year by 4mins 14secs over Sladek. Sean Donnelly (Zach Pfeil) was third in class and made enough points to secure the ARA's L2WD championship, with Sladek in second and Iglesias third.
Jacques Wins LSPR Regional
Zachary and Ron Jacques made the most of the 2023 debut at LSPR, but it wasn't without a pit of pressure.
The father and son team came into the day with a 2min 29.4sec lead over Mike and Morgan Engle. Both teams would play a significant role in the outcome of LSPR's regional podium.
Jacques's lead was comfortable all day, and it would grow over the regional field with every passing stage. A leaking radiator would almost spoil the impressive run as Jacques came to the end of SS16 in a puff of smoke. With Engle's help, Jacques would find a unique solution to slow the leak: a screwdriver. The fix was enough for the rally leader to transit to Marquette and finished the final two stages. His overall win (and O4WD class victory) marked his third win in the past three rallies.
It's not easy to run near the top of a rallies leaderboard in a two-wheel drive car, let alone a 1986 BMW 325, but Levi and Griffin Johnson are breaking through that barrier with ease this year. Johnson pushed every ounce of power out of his 37-year-old ride, moving into third after SS13. At that point, he sat 2.8secs behind Dylan Gondyke (Ben Chuong) but then pushed past the NA4WD leader on SS15 after Gondyke began having gearbox problems. Johnson would easily handle the final two shorter stages for second overall and first in O2WD.
The biggest mover of the day was from John and Michael Farrow, who sat 12th overall and 2min 45secs off away from a podium position after day one. But Farrow through down the fifth fastest time, national or regional, on Saturday's opening stage. That set the pace for a spectacular day of driving as Farrow jumped to fifth overall by the time the regional cars moved back to Marquette. He picked up another spot after SS16 and then moved into third after the final stage at Marquette Mountain. It's his first ARA Super Regional win and his second in just five rallies.
Gondyke finished fourth overall while winning the NA4WD class. Engle would end the rally fifth overall and second in L4WD, narrowly keeping the top-five spot over Silas Himes (Charlotte Himes) by 6/10ths of a second. Himes, sixth overall, was third in L4WD.
Matt Nykanen (Lars Anderson) was second in class (seventh overall), and Ryan George (Heather Stieber) was third (12th overall).
Chris Cyr (Glen Ray) was victorious in L2WD while finishing eighth overall. Chris and Sara Nonack were second overall in Limited 2, with Alastair Scully (Alison LaRoza) finishing third in class.
Jordan Haberer (Drew Staples) would end the rally ninth overall and second behind Jacques in O4WD. Bradley Hayosh (Keegan Helwig) was third in that class.
Aiden and John Hicks joined for a top-ten drive at LSPR, finishing tenth and second in NA4WD behind Gondyke. Sam Jacques (Trevor Lacombe) was less than a minute behind in 11th, wrapping up the rally third in NA4.
The American Rally Association will make the Green APU National Rally Championship points official upon closing of LSPR inquiries. All 2023 ARA Regional championships will conclude with the Super Regional Show-Me Rally on November 3-4. Drivers and Co-Drivers may still earn points from Show-Me for their regional championship. For more information on the American Rally Association and the Green APU National Rally Championship, go to www.americanrallyassociation.org.