Barry McKenna is making quick work of the American Rally Association’s newest regional event, the New York Forests Rally.
McKenna, driving the same Ford Fiesta WRC car he finished second on the 2020 Show-Me Rally a few weeks ago, holds a lead over the stacked field of drivers in the inaugural regional American Rally Association event.
At the half-way point McKenna had a total overall time of 17 minutes, 54.3 seconds on the 20 stage miles.
“[We’re] getting on good, really enjoying it. The first stage was really slippy, and the second stage was a lot better. Second pass over everything was a lot better,” said McKenna at service after SS4.
Running second is ARA newcomer Freddie Milne. Milne, a familiar face in UK rallying is running only 1:00.7 off of McKenna’s pace in a Fiesta R5. Despite being second overall, Milne still leads the rather sizable RC2 class.
“[The rally is going] grand, lovely day for it, brilliant, really great to be back doing something,” said Milne. “Feels a bit more like home than the rest of what we’re used to in the states.”
Running close behind Milne is Ryan Booth, who after crashing out of Show-Me Rally at the beginning of the month is taking over the wheel of Barry McKenna’s Skoda Fabia R5. Booth, who first stepped into an R5 in January this year, is only 2.2 seconds off of Milne, and the two are trading off splits of just a few seconds on every stage.
“I think it’s only going to get better, just because it’s going to dry out more the more cars that go through it,” Booth said of the stages, “the mud seems like it’s not getting any deeper so I think it’ll just only get faster.”
Rounding out the overall top 5 are Piotr Fetela and Martin Donnelly both driving Fiesta R5s. Fetela is running +2:30.6 on McKenna in his first ever rally in an R5, while Donnelly is +3:04.1
At service Fetela said of the event so far, “I love the stages, kind of tight and slick because it was a rainy day yesterday, but overall we did the test and I just love the car so, I need more experience, that’s for sure,” said Fetela. “
Despite running fourth place after the first loop this morning, Patrick Brennan went off the road in SS3 on a slippery corner, and despite being unable to finish the stage is okay.
Seamus Burke leads the 2WD Open class in eight overall with his incredible 1977 Ford Escort with Gary Smith following 25.5 seconds behind in his Fiesta R2.
The NA4WD class is being led by 9th place Mark Piatkowski with Eric Kirse 17.8 seconds behind.
Leading the L4WD class is Dennis Romero piloting a 2008 Subaru. He leads Eamon Fallon in the class by 42.4 seconds and holds 13th overall.
Going into the second half of the event competitors will still be on the same two stages as before, but they will be reversed this time around so that drivers have to reacquaint themselves with the stages rather than run them as they have gotten to know them already.
Leading positions after SS4
1 McKenna (Ford Fiesta) 17m54.3s
2 Milne (Ford Fiesta) +1m00.7s
3 Booth (Ford Fiesta) +1m02.9s
4 Fetela (Ford Fiesta) +2m30.6s
5 Donnelly (Ford Fiesta) +3m04.1s
6 McCormack (Ford Fiesta) +3m10.8s
7 Rowley (Ford Fiesta) +3m11.9s
8 Burke (Ford Escort) +3m38.3s
9 Piatkowski (Subaru Impreza) +3m49.0s
10 Smith (Ford Escort) +4m03.7s