The 2022 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship makes its way out to its first West Coast event this weekend for the DirtFish Olympus Rally.
Famous for being the final world championship rally to host Group B in 1986, Olympus has been a long-standing event with a ton of history, known for its wet, deceptive, and challenging stages, as well as some of the most beautiful views in US rallying.
And this weekend will feature a triumphant return of top-level WRC machinery to former WRC stages, and is sure to be one of the most exciting Olympus editions in a long time.
As well as exciting high-end cars, almost 40% of the competitors are alumni of, or staff at the DirtFish Rally School, making it a huge homecoming event for the DirtFish family.
Looking ahead to this challenging weekend, here’s everything you need to now to keep up to date on the DirtFish Olympus Rally.
For the first time since New England Forest Rally last year, five of the biggest names in US rally history will face off this weekend at Olympus. Ken Block will once again pilot the Hyundai i20 WRC that he came within four miles of winning the 100 Acre Wood Rally with, while Barry McKenna, Brandon Semenuk and Travis Pastrana will all be chasing him down in an attempt to beat the most intimidating car the ARA currently has.
10-time US rally champion David Higgins will also be returning to put his name in the hat, but this time behind the wheel of ERA Motorsport’s Citroën DS3 R5. While it’s an uphill battle for him to win in a lower class vehicle, Higgins remains a favorite as RC2 class cars have outdriven Open class cars at Olympus before, and the conditions are very similar to what the Manx rally driver is used to in Wales.
The RC2 class will be rounded out with Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC) athlete Tom Williams with Ross Whittock alongside him, as well as ERA’s Kyle Tilley looking to take down his temporary team-mate Higgins.
‘Texas’ Dave Carapetyan and Danny Norkus return after their LN4 class win at 100AW, while West coast native Matt Dickinson and El Diablo Rally Team attempt to hold BRCC off on their home turf. With a stacked LN4 field including Matt Brassfeild, Phil Wearn, Tony Torchia, Dylan Murcott, Will Graham and more, this class remains up for grabs as we head into the weekend.
O2WD is sure to have one of the best battles of the year so far as reigning champion Seamus Burke returns in his Ford Escort MkII V6 with Gary McElhinney sitting passenger-side. Burke will face off against Michael Hooper in a fresh-built Lexus IS350 rally car, and home-town hero Derik Nelson in his turbo Subaru BRZ for the 2WD class win, but Brad Morris, Dave Clark, and even Lia Block all stand as competitors who could pull an upset.
Finally for the L2WD cup. Current champion Roberto Yglesias and co-driver KJ Miller stand out as favorites in the most restricted ARA class, but the Acura RSX of Alex Ramos and Sarah Freeze is sure to be hot on their tail, as Nick Allen, Paul Dickinson, and Nathan Odle will be too as they all fight for a win.
This year’s ARA Regional entry is huge with almost 60 competitors looking to score points in the first ARA West event of the year. The field is scattered with cars of all kinds, and competitors of all skill levels. Let’s waste no time and get right into it.
The top driver for speed will be Sam Albert, with his co-driver Krista Skucas. Andy Miller and Josh Gierman will be hunting, with these two crews being the favorites in regional competition.
Albert, an Open class driver, will also be competing against the likes of Mark Tabor and Garret Buban to be top driver in class.
Miller and Gierman both sport NA4WD Subarus, and look to hold off the rest of the naturally aspirated field as Spencer Crabb, Alex Chadney, and Matt Turner are just a few of the competitors looking in the class.
WHAT HAS BEEN MODIFIED ON BLOCK’S HYUNDAI?
The ARA has mandated tweaks to the i20 Coupe WRC to make it legal for US rallying
L4WD is likely to be a tight battle between David Defrain and Andrew Reavis, bringing another classic match-up between Subaru and Mitsubishi, but with six other competitors in the class there is the possibility that anything could happen.
The entry for O2WD has 19 cars battling for top spot. Tyler Hendricks, Julien Sebot, Todd Hartmann, Wayne Conrad and Chase Hovinga lead the pack with just two speed factor points separating the five. The diverse field sees everything from an RX-7, to Volkswagen turbodiesels to Volvos and Ford Fiestas, and is sure to be one of the most exciting class battles of the weekend.
L2WD however will be much smaller, but still full of low-grip fun, with Hooptie X head Eric Frentress returning in his 2006 Toyota Yaris after his debut at Oregon Trail Rally last year. Chuck Brazer will be his navigator. Locals Matt Tabor and Kris Saada are aiming to battle him for the win in a class that has four new drivers.
At 122 stage miles, Olympus will be the longest rally of the season so far. Parc exposé takes place in Downtown Shelton, WA at 8am on Saturday morning, with the first car hitting the stages at 9:50am.
Saturday consists of two loops of three stages each, followed by back-to-back runnings on the famed Nahwatzel stage which clocks in at over 15 miles.
Sunday will be shorter, starting just as early with a quick parc exposé at Ridge Motorsports Park, where service will also be both days. There will be two loops of stages, each consisting of Dayton, SIP SuperSpecial and the infamous Wildcat.
Unfortunately, due to stage conditions, Wildcat has been declawed already as the first six miles or so have been deemed unusable due to deep mud. But the remaining 12 miles are sure to cause problems for competitors as the second running of the test will also be the powerstage, where drivers can score up to five extra championship points for a win.
Saturday April 23
SS1 Kuhnle Up (7.14 miles) 0953
SS2 Schafer Long (10.73 miles) 1023
SS3 Deckerville Reverse Short (6.27 miles) 1056
SS4 Kuhnle Up (7.14 miles) 1323
SS5 Schafer Long (10.73 miles) 1353
SS6 Deckerville Reverse Short (6.27 miles) 1426
SS7 Nahwatzel (15.46 miles) 1628
SS8 Nahwatzel (15.46 miles) 1837
Sunday April 24
SS9 Dayton (8.80 miles) 0853
SS10 SIP Super Special (1.45 miles) 0931
SS11 Wildcat (11.47 miles) 1034
SS12 Dayton (8.80 miles) 1306
SS13 SIP Super Special (1.45 miles) 1344
SS14 Wildcat (11.47 miles) 1447