Cordero claims debut Oregon victory

Citroën driver beats the Subarus and makes history on his maiden Oregon outing

Cordero OTR

Ricardo Cordero has ended Brandon Semenuk’s 12-rally run of ARA National Championship wins with victory on the Oregon Trail Rally.

The Citroën C3 Rally2 driver took control of the event after both factory Subarus hit the same rock and retired from day two on Saturday’s opener. Cordero was initially challenged by DirtFish instructor and Ferrari-Subaru star Sam Albert before a puncture robbed the Wild West winner of his shot at a maiden National victory.

After a day on the Washington side of the Columbia River, Sunday was all about the faster roads around the Oregonian town of Dufur. Starting the day with an advantage of 1m37.4s, Cordero was cautious. A historic win was within touching distance and, while the third day’s stages weren’t quite as rough as those further north, keeping the car in one piece was uppermost in his mind.

He did it. And, honestly, he was as surprised as anybody.

“I’m so stoked,” he told DirtFish. “I never imagined when I came here, I would be the rally winner. It was completely unexpected. Today there was a lot of pressure, I wanted to be fast but not risk too much. Everything was smooth for us, we had no problems or issues with the car, this helped with the win.”

Albert OTR

Albert's outstanding morning was stymied by a troublesome afternoon in everybody's favourite V8 Subaru

And the historic aspect?

“I won a rally in México, Canada and now America,” said the three-time NACAM champion. “I think I’m the first person to do that. This has been a great event: fantastic people, such a nice ambiance and some really cool, fast stages – I will be back next year.”

Having started the day trailing Javi Olivares, Albert got by the Fiesta on Sunday’s second test, Shadowbuck. Regularly fastest of the crews still in the overall fight, Albert set his sights on P1. While he nibbled at the Rally2 car ahead, any hopes of taking chunks of time were spoiled by a busy afternoon.

“You name it, it got thrown at us this afternoon,” Albert told DirtFish. “I’ve got to thank the crew on the car, they’ve busted their a***s all day long. We got two punctures, a broken control arm and a collapsing cooling duct. The control arm was interesting: every time we braked the car pulled off the road. The only way to slow down was with the handbrake.

“In a straight line, it was OK, so we said to each other, “What do we do? Should we just gun it? Yeah, let’s gun it.” We just slowed down early for the corners and by some magical physics the wheel stayed on.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve done here – it would have been nice to go for the overall [win], but yesterday morning took away that groove a little bit.”

Still shaken from watching fellow Fiesta driver Nick Allen roll spectacularly out of the event on Saturday’s final stage, Olivares was content to settle for another ARA podium and a maximum haul of L4WD points. Behind him, Irishman John Coyne brought his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 home in a solid and untroubled fourth.

Ford Escort Mk2 driver Ryan Booth was fifth with an O2WD class win over the similar (albeit with a V8 engine) car of Seamus Burke. Roberto Yglesias (Ford Fiesta ST) took L2WD with Olympus class winners Richo Healey and Michelle Miller adding more points to their impressive championship tally, second in the Lexus.

Andy Miller scored back-to-back Regional wins from Olympus to Oregon. Even more impressive, he won both for the second year in succession. Upgrading his Impreza with a sequential gearbox put the Pacific Northwest driver even further out of reach of his rivals.

Miller OTR

Miller made the best use of his new sequential gearbox to dominate the Regional event for the second year in succession

“I’m really pleased with the result,” he said. “We made the couple of upgrades to the car which worked. We were able to go flat out where we could and then keep it tidy in some of the more risky places. The only issue was when we got a little bit too close to the gate at the spectator points in Starveout. We got a little damage down the side, but nothing too serious.”

Miller’s task was made slightly more straightforward when Steven Redd retired with axle failure first time over the Boyd Loop jump. Josh Gierman (Subaru Imoreza) took second place with top L4WD regional runner Phil Clarke (Subaru Impreza) third. David Clark’s immaculate BMW M3 won O2WD with Casen Pederson landing the L2WD category in his Lexus.

Pederson’s result was particularly merit-worthy, taking the class by seven and a half minutes on only his second ever rally. Even better, his overall times would have been good enough to win some stages in the National L2WD category.

DirtFish instructors Sean Edwards and Kendra Miller overcame transmission issues on Friday night and ignition trouble on Sunday to deliver an outstanding finish in the Volvo 242 Turbo. Stay tuned to DirtFish’s YouTube channel for a more indepth look at the event from onboard the 41-year-old machine.

Subaru stars Semenuk and Travis Pastrana returned for Sunday’s stages, and predictably dominated the day’s action, but this time the star of the show was Cordero. First time on the event and he heads home with a 100% winning record in Oregon.

Sean OTR

Sean Edwards and Kendra Miller sent 'Karen' the awesome Volvo flat out through the gorgeous Oregon countryside