Three Blocks in the top 10! It doesn’t get much better than that for the Hoonigan Racing Team.
September brought us to the beautiful Tioga State Forest in Wellsboro, PA for the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally.
Our racing week started on Tuesday with a great testing session. There, Lucy and I were able to get a feel for the road surfaces and how our Ford Fiesta Rally3 would handle them. Just like the STPR stages, the test was fast, and it felt… incredible. The locals seemed to enjoy the Hoonigan team showing up as well!
Because of a low recce speed limit (25mph) and some good distances between stages, recce was split over two days. Lucy and I took advantage of this and were able to get three passes on most of the stages and had some pretty decent notes (except one – more on that later).
At STPR, the roads are wildly fast and narrow, with constantly changing surfaces and grip levels. A large crown makes line choice absolutely crucial and by the end of recce, I must have had hundreds of corners that opened and tightened multiple times filling my notebooks, usually also featuring a large tree sticking out on the apex on the hard to see corners that tightened.
The area itself is absolutely beautiful. Thanks to a relaxed schedule, we were able to stop and enjoy the trees, rivers, and valleys before the rally began.
Racing started Friday morning with the particularly tricky Asaph stage, featuring a couple of bridges and one fast, short corner over a crowned jump that was exhilarating – but held potential for big consequences.
Faster forest roads follows Asaph – Dewey was amazingly fun (much more fun than on recce). Finally, we made our way over to Waste Management; over seven miles of stage through twisty, rough, rutted, slippy roads, filled with big jumps that sent us to the finish at the waste site.
This was ridiculously fun… but it became very clear (very quickly) that this was a stage of survival. We fully sent it over the jump which made for some great photos, and then headed back to service to get ready to do it all again.
We repeated the loop of stages, finding the roads a bit more loose on the second pass, and Waste Management became blindingly dusty. At the end of day one, we had a strong finish, sitting in 10th overall in the national standings and fourth in the fiercely competitive O4WD class, which Ken was leading.
Day two took us back out to the forests, repeating some of the same stage roads as the day before, but mixing in new areas too.
The roads held up great, but stage 10 took us for a bit of surprise: the road wasn’t as fast as our notes said. We’ll need to work on this if we run this stage again. Maybe we were ambitious, or maybe it looked different at the top of fifth vs the 25mph recce pace.
Regardless, we were able to stay consistent and clean and gained two positions overall finishing 8th and maintaining 4th in O4WD.
Of course, the rest of the Hoonigan team also had a great race! Alex and Ken needed a win to get into the lead before the final race of the season, and they made it happen. They also managed to grab the powerstage win, receiving five extra points. Going into LSPR, they now lead by two points.
Lia had a great race too! She may have missed the last two events as school got back into session, but she didn’t miss a beat here. After an especially strong second day, Lia made it onto the O2WD podium, and gained three positions overall finishing ninth, just behind us.
It was a weekend of exhilarating, challenging, and rewarding work for the whole team, filled with smart testing, good notes, perfectly prepped cars, good meals, and good sleep (well… we tried).
Fans may get to see the race itself, but it’s all of this effort combined that sets us up for a great race and better results.