|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2023
American Rally Association
WELLSBORO, PA ~ This year's Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally may have been designated an American Rally Association Super Regional. Still, the roads and competition were as demanding and challenging as any the rally has held since its inception.
STPR opened up the competition on Friday with eight stages and 58 competition miles. At the end of day one, Dylan Gondyke (co-driver Ben Chuong) held a 1m 59sec lead over a pair of Open 2WD BMWs, Daniel Downey (Samantha Downey) and Mike Cessna (Jamie Lambert).
Saturday opened up with the annual Parc Expose on The Green in downtown Wellsboro, Penn. Six stages were scheduled after the opening ceremonies, with 45 contested miles available. (Note: STPR officials canceled SS12 due to schedule and time issues).
Dust held on stage a bit on Saturday, but the 23 cars that left Wellsboro were undaunted and determined to chase down Gondyke and the rest of the class leaders. Gondyke has been extremely good over the past few seasons, including back-to-back ARA East Regional Overall championships in 2021 and 2022. After five stage wins on Friday, Gondyke didn't win a stage on Saturday, but with four different drivers taking stage wins on Saturday, Gondyke just needed to stay near the top times to pick up his first overall win of the season. It was also his eighth NA4WD victory in his past 11 rallies dating back to STPR in 2021.
"This was probably one of our best drives," said Gondyke. "The whole weekend was awesome. We were just trying to manage a little bit today at the very end, but it was fantastic. It was a great feeling to get the car back together after it was basically a shell six weeks ago and then come out with no problems whatsoever.
Coming into Saturday, Downey and Cessna were separated by only 30.7 seconds (Cessna dropped a minute due to a Speed Zone penalty on Friday). The hope to put a pair of Open 2WD cars on the podium behind Gondyke came to a quick end when Cessna was unable to finish SS9, Saturday's first stage, due to a broken suspension. Downey continued to forge ahead, picking up a pair of stage wins to finish second overall and gained second class win of the season.
It was a little rougher than yesterday, but we had fun with it this year," said Downey. "The goat path stage, which was hilarious to us; we were laughing the whole time. I would have done it again. I wouldn't care, but we survived today and kept it around, and I think we probably went faster than we ever have before."
Ryan Pryzbylkowski (Oliver Smith) had a long weekend battle in NA4WD with Luis Teixeira (Stefan Trajkov). Cessna and Tom (and Karl) Mayer dropped out on SS9, which opened the door for an intense race for the final overall podium spot.
"The last section was an absolute blast," said Pryzbylkowski. "We really turned the push on at the end, and we ended up actually coming out with a stage win, which is awesome. My first stage win!"
Teixeira moved from sixth to third after SS9 before picking up the stage win on SS10. He had a .7sec lead on Pryzbylkowski before the two remaining stages. Pryzbylkowski took the SS13 win by 2.6 seconds over Teixeira, giving him a 1.9 sec lead heading into the final stage, where he finished 14.1sec ahead of Teixeira for third overall and second behind Gondyke in NA4WD.
Sumit Panjabi (Stephen Kurey) would finish one minute behind Teixeira in fifth but was 3min 53secs ahead of Josh Girtain (Meagan Wagoner) for the Limited 4WD win. Girtain, competing in his first ARA rally, would finish ninth overall, largely thanks to his overall stage win to start the day on SS9. James Pryzbylkowski (Ethan Curtis) was third in L4WD.
"Jamie's just doing great, and he's picking up a lot of speed," said Pryzbylkowski co-drive Curtis. "Even since I jumped in the car with him in New England, from barely wanting to go over Concord Pond and now doing 70 feet over Waste Management, it's just bonkers."
Sean Burke (Nathan Werner) secured a top-ten finish in their 1991 Honda CRX while also ending the rally second in Open 2WD. They started the day second in class, but only 3secs ahead of Daniel Hayes (Boyd Smith) and 10.8secs ahead of Keenan Phillips (Salina Melotti). Burke would hold off both drivers while Phillips moved into third ahead of Hayes on SS10.
In Limited 2WD action, Nick Bukky (Emmons Hathaway) ended STPR first in class and 15th overall. Alan Edwards (Daniel Baker) brought home their best finish to date in 17th and second in L2WD.
The Lake Superior Performance Rally will conclude the ARA's Green APU National Rally Championship on October 13-14. Up next for the American Rally Association is the ARA East Regional Boone Forest Rally in McKee, Ky., on September 23.