Brandon Semenuk is charging towards another win in the American Rally Association National championship after a fault-free Saturday morning on the Southern Ohio Forest Rally.
The Subaru Motorsports USA star started the day with a lead of four minutes-and-40 seconds, and in the knowledge that one of his potential rivals Barry McKenna had retired from the rally entirely following a Friday crash and so would not be challenging for stage wins.
There was still a challenge for Semenuk as he was the road sweeper, a role which he described as on the “first day wasn’t as bad, but now it’s pretty bad”.
He still won the day’s opening test, Courtney’s Webb, by 17.3 seconds over the Ford Fiesta Rally2-driving Allen Dobasu, with Paul Rowley and Tom Williams setting the joint third fastest time 18.8s off Semenuk’s pace.
Lucy Block did not get to the finish after suffering an engine issue in her Ford Fiesta Rally3, and had to retire from the rally.
America’s Best, an 8.71-mile blast through the forests, was the stage that followed and Semenuk had further feedback to provide to DirtFish after going quickest by 20.5s.
“The first stage [SS10] was pretty good, that [SS11] was definitely a lot trickier. Just extra loose, but we’re used to that now,” he said.
Williams was his closest rival on the stage, with Patrick Gruszka third fastest and Semenuk’s closest rival in the overall classification but 5m24.1s behind.
The shorter Bolster Hollow stage provided a chance for Williams to beat Semenuk, but he could not quite do it with the grunt of his Fiesta Rally2 not able to match Semenuk’s Subaru WRX STi.
Gruszka struggled with rhythm and set-up changes that he believed he had gone the wrong way on, dropping 8.9s to Semenuk.
Racoon Church was the penultimate stage of the loop and was another stage win for Semenuk, this time by 8.9s over Williams. It brought Williams’ gap to the top five in the rally down to 46.4s, having been on the back foot since losing almost eight minutes to a spin on the Friday morning loop.
Semenuk rounded off a perfect run of stages by winning the first pass through Will’s Tract South by 3.2s over Williams, and bringing his rally lead up to 5m59.7s ahead of the final loop of stages.
Adam Kimmett continued to be the driver to beat in the ARA Regional classification, going fastest through the day’s first four stages.
On Will’s Tract South he dropped 45s to stage winner Philip Wearn, but he had been a Friday retiree so the impact on Kimmett’s rally lead was minimised and he goes into the final loop still 43.8s clear of Jonathan Kramer in second place.