Front-running Green APU American Rally Association driver Patrick Gruszka returns to the American series at this week’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally.
The 19-year-old was forced out of last month’s Oregon Trail Rally after the team’s trailer caught fire. Back this week, he’s looking to pick up from his impressive DirtFish Olympus Rally podium.
“It was a real bummer to miss Oregon,” the Hyundai i20 R5 driver told DirtFish. “But we tested earlier this week and I really feel like the pace picked up from where it was in Washington (for Olympus).
“We tested in Kentucky, where the roads are a little bit firmer, but the feeling from the test was good. We have a good base [setup] and the pace was picking up as the day progressed.
“I’m super-pumped to be back. We’d built some really good momentum early in the year and the priority now is to keep that going – we’re driving with the championship in mind this week. We know Brandon [Semenuk, championship leader] is on a real hot streak and the pace he’s showing right now.. he’s going to do as amazing as he always does.
“For us, it’s really cool to have six R5 cars out there and to have Tom [Williams] back. While I haven’t been competing, I’ve been working hard, I’ve been on the sim to maintain the muscle memory.”
This will be Gruszka’s third start in Ohio and he’s set his sights on going one place higher than the fourth place he managed in his Mitsubishi Mirage last year.
“I’m hoping for the podium,” he said, “but really, the priority is the finish. The championship is the mindset.”
Talking about the challenge of round five, Gruszka grinned: “Wow, I love this rally, but it’s one of the toughest rallies you have to go through. It’s sort of like the hellish rally. It’s hot twisty, you focus for 14 miles and non-stop there are so many things going on.
“It’s one of my favorites and I would say it’s better suited to the R5 cars. I can’t wait to get started.”
Follow all of the action this weekend on DirtFish Live Center.