|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2023
American Rally Association
SHELTON, WA -- Brandon Semenuk soaked up the stage wins on the opening day of the 2023 Olympus Rally, which featured an early twist and a last stage that several drivers referred to as the 'craziest stage' they've ever driven.
The third round of the American Rally Association's Green APU National Rally Championship was met with an opening stage that was both long (16.82 miles) and challenging. Semenuk set a blistering pace on SS1, but the mid-morning wake-up call would set the tone for an extended day of rallying.
Only 24 of the 75 cars lined up to start Nahwatzel would finish. The initial stage knocked out four cars, including Sam Albert and his Subaru creation stuffed to the fenders with a Ferrari motor. (It wasn't motor issues for Albert, but rather a broken wheel that sidelined him early on SS1.) However, the real tragedy on the stage that would significantly extend the day was the unfortunate fire to the 2007 Subaru WRX STi of Mark Tabor. That fire led to nearly two-thirds of the field transiting around stage one and stage two.
But after the long regroup, the competition returned to normal, albeit an attrition-filled day. Twenty-three cars would retire on Saturday, and seven were already considered permanent retirements heading into the overnight hours.
There was no chance of retirement coming from the defending champion. Instead, Semenuk opened up his defense of the Olympus Rally by winning all six Saturday stages and opening up a two-minute lead over Tom Williams.
"It was fun on some of the longer stages," said Semenuk. "The last stage was very low visibility, though, so I'm pretty happy to get through it, especially this late with the dark. We're really happy to just get to that last stage and carry the lead into tomorrow."
Williams came out of day one second overall and first in RC2. After a turbo issue in Missouri, Williams felt good about his pace at Olympus. The tighter, more technical stages in Washington were a good indicator of his speed against Semenuk, and he looks forward to challenging the leader on Sunday.
"Consistent and clean, which is nice and a bit different from last few rallies," said Williams. "It was nice to keep pace, and we are pretty close to where we wanted to be. Tomorrow with a more technical, narrow stages to level it a little bit more. It's been a really good day with some pretty fast stages, faster than usual at Olympus."
Patrick Gruszka challenged Williams throughout the day despite shattering his rear window on the first loop. The RC2 points leader was finding his momentum as the day dragged on. Still, challenging conditions on the day's final stage gave Williams two minutes back for the top RC2 spot, but he still sits third overall, just ahead of Jeff Seehorn, who got more comfortable behind the wheel as the day progressed.
Jason Bailey rounded out the top five, a run that landed him atop the Limited 4WD class (and LN4 podium position). Javier Olivares is just over a minute behind Bailey for second in class and sixth overall. Ele Bardha sits third in LN4 and seventh overall.
Lia Block was blistering quick throughout much of the day to lead a very talented National 2WD field. But Block lost significant time on SS6, putting Dave Clark into the class lead (eight overall). Lucy Block is ninth overall, and Vincent Trudel caps off the top ten in the National competition.
Andy Miller (NA4WD) has put together a solid first day at Olympus in ARA West Regional action. His regional leading overall times would be slotted into a combined seventh overall. He holds a 2:03.1 second lead over Jason Cochell (L4WD), with Michael Honn (NA4WD) in third.
Eric Bailey (O2WD) is fourth overall in the regional standings and the highest-place 2WD competitor. L2WD Niels Kroeze is just 11 seconds behind Bailey in fifth and only .6 of a second ahead of Jeffrey Olmstead (NA4WD). Ron Binckley (first in O4WD) is seventh, followed by Phil Clarke (L4WD), Chris Miller (second in O2WD), and Daniel Sperry (NA4WD).
Day two at Olympus will continue on Sunday, with Parc Expose beginning at 7:00 AM Pacific Time.
Live Stream Schedule for Olympus Rally Day 2:
SS7 Wildcat 1 - Starts at 9:45
SS9 Wildcat 2 - Starts at 12:30
SS11 SIP - Starts at 4:30
Regional and national podiums to follow
Live on ARA YouTube Channel
The 2023 Green APU National Rally Championship will feature eight national rounds, starting in February and finishing in October at the Lake Superior Performance Rally. The ARA also offers up three regional championships across 21 events. To learn more about the ARA, go to https://www.americanrallyassociation.org.