The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood is famous for the fastest stages in the United States. This year is no different, but has many possible wrenches thrown into the works as well. Heavy rain in the days leading up to the rally has made water crossings high, and potholes and ruts deep.
Rain is expected to stop before race day, but there’s still uncertainty about what might happen to the roads before cars hit the second round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National season. Here’s what DirtFish was able to learn from recce.
SS1/4/14 Elders Crooked Truck North Short (7.08 miles)
The opening and closing stage of the rally is just over seven miles long. It starts on an uncharacteristically narrow road for 100AW with a large amount of rocks and a loose surface that could lead to punctures early on.
The stage eventually widens and smooths out to allow for the usual high speeds, but keep drivers on their toes with a few medium turns that will require slowing down.
SS2/5 Crooked Coleman Tower (5.15 miles)
Crooked Coleman Tower is short, but might pack the most amount of excitement of them all.
The start is once again very rocky, but about a mile in there’s a long, potentially slippery hairpin that could throw drivers down a hill if not taken carefully.
The stage ends up leading into a blazing fast straight with a likely jump towards the end, before rounding a few corners and ending up at the famous cattle guard jump. Beyond that is a few more fast curves and a potential water crossing if water levels don’t drop.
SS3/6 Kitchen Patrol (5.82 miles)
Though there’s not too much that stands out as a big challenge on Kitchen Patrol, the stage is sure to be one of the fastest with very few, if any turns tighter than a three or a four on the pacenotes on the near six-mile stint. So long as drivers don’t slip up, expect them to hit some of the fastest speeds of the rally here.
SS7 Ashbridge Hollow (4.31 miles)
The Saturday opener is a bit of a black sheep. Only being run once, the stage is much more technical than those that were run on Friday.
It starts out on a narrow road with ditches on either side ready to swallow up any driver who has a lapse in judgement.
The first mile has the first of many gnarly water crossings that teams will encounter throughout the day, then leads into a steep uphill section with some relatively tight turns.
SS8 Loop Southern (10.36 miles)
Loop Southern starts not far from the end of Ashbridge Hollow. The 10-mile stage throws drivers right into the action with a long straight that leads up a steep hill and into a somewhat slow left turn. The trail runs over some nice hills before reaching a hairpin.
It’s a constantly changing stage with some of the smoothest roads of the rally to some of the harshest, most rutted, puddle-ridden stages of the weekend sure to rattle parts off.
With five water crossings and plenty of elevation changes, notes are arguably more vital here than anywhere else to keep the car on the road. Water levels are expected to go down before the stage will be run, but there’s still likely to be plenty of water on the road when the competitors finally reach it.
SS9/11/13 Scotia North via 5380 (7.72 miles)
This could very well be the car killer. The stage starts off in the typical fast, flowing 100AW style, but becomes gradually more bumpy and pitted.
The real threat is the creek crossing that is by far the deepest, most treacherous in the rally. Recce cars were all hesitant to go through, and although none were destroyed that we know of, hitting a rushing creek at speed could have huge consequences for many competitors.
If they make it through, crews will be rewarded with some more sweeping turns and fast sections, as well as a fast trip between a few farms.
SS10/12 Loop Southern 5600 (10.84 miles)
These stages are the same as Loop Southern (SS8) but they have a different start point. Rather than transiting from where SS7 ends, competitors will go to a different start area directly from service. The new section of the stage is slightly less eventful although a bit faster.
It runs a few miles through the usual 100AW style of stages before meeting back up with SS8’s route right after it has its hairpin, and dumping drivers back into the harshest roads Missouri has to offer.