How an ARA driver lost points, but not their result

Mark Piatkowski found himself falling foul of ARA technical regulations for an unexpected reason


Mark Piatkowski has been through a lot in the past few years.

He became LN4 National champion in 2021. A few months later, he’d won Sno*Drift outright in his naturally-aspirated Subaru Impreza. That led to a guest entry in the RC2 class for 100 Acre Wood, thanks to ERA Motorsport’s Kyle Tilley.

Now back at Southern Ohio Forest Rally, Piatkowski was able to take yet another class win in both the combined LN4 class and his NA4WD class.

But there was trouble. When the cars went into parc ferme, something went wrong. During the post-race tech inspection, ARA technical director Doug Nagy entered a stewards inquiry for car #35 citing a breach of Article 4. 1. 12 in the ARA’s technical rulebook, which states:


“Driver and co-driver doors must be structurally unaltered with the following exceptions.

If the original structure has been removed or altered, either:

• A door panel that is compliant with FIA drawing 255-14 must be installed


• the safety cage must include a sill bar plus 2 continuous door bars containing four vertical studs. Homologated roll cages may not be modified.

All sharp edges must be protected by a door panel, edge guard, or similar.”

If that didn’t track, don’t worry. Let us explain.

I admitted to not reading the rules for that particular clause, so whatever penalty ARA threw at me, I wasn't going to appeal Mark Piatkowski

You can’t cut the inner frame of the front doors out without adding additional support to the cage, which, unfortunately, is exactly what Piatkowski had done when building the car five years ago.

“To be honest, I ran these same doors since I built my car in 2017. I’ve always seen cars with gutted rear doors, and just assumed it was OK for the fronts too,” Piatkowski admitted to DirtFish.

“I even had quick disconnect pins on my door panels, as I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong!

“I admitted to not reading the rules for that particular clause, so whatever penalty ARA threw at me, I wasn’t going to appeal.

“Per rule infractions, the penalty is loss of two class positions and no powerstage points. Since ARA scores NA4 and L4 cars together, I was technically the only one in my class and I still won the combined LN4 class.


“If you are looking at this from a performance perspective, my car was still 220lbs over the minimum weight of my class at the end of rally weight check.”

Explaining why the issue was noticed after Southern Ohio Forest Rally, and not earlier, Nagy told DirtFish: “This is not an item that is checked during pre-event scrutineering. We usually spot check this in post-race impound once or twice a season.

“It is possible he was not in impound at an event it was checked in the past.”

So no harm, no real foul. Piatkowski has had fewer points awarded for this round (third in the LN4 class instead of first), but in the official results, his time stands. Given that he’s taking a breather this year after last year’s championship, there’s not too much to dwell on for the MAP Rally Team.