Semenuk canters to Olympus win

Brandon Semenuk took a straightforward win – but wished he had been made to fight more

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Brandon Semenuk missed his mates last weekend. The Canadian won the Olympus Rally presented by DirtFish by more than 13 minutes – but the defending champion was the first to admit he would have preferred closer competition.

Semenuk was the sole open class car in Washington, with Subaru team-mate Travis Pastrana recovering from a hip problem and Barry McKenna – the man who led the previous round in Missouri – not present in his Ford Fiesta WRC.

Semenuk and co-driver Keaton Williams won all 16 stages in the Pacific Northwest to lead the field home by 13m37.1s. With three wins from three secured this season, the pair are already galloping towards a third straight ARA title.

“This was a great event,” Semenuk told DirtFish. “It was really nice to see a national rally running extended mileage on an event – usually we get 110 miles, but this was 150 miles on world-class roads. I enjoyed every minute of driving this car on the roads. Thanks to the team, they’ve been awesome this week.

“The last round, 100 Acre Wood, was so good having the competition with Barry and Travis – it’s great having those guys around never mind the battles. Unfortunately there were not so many drivers to challenge on this one. It’s tricky, obviously we weren’t pushing on every stage and we were in a position where we could manage the rally.

“This isn’t necessarily the position we want to be in – it’s fun when there’s somebody there to get you out of your comfort zone. I want to keep growing as a driver and I want to come back to these events and find progress each year and having competition is better [to do that]. Hopefully we’ll have some battles later this year.”

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Nick Allen bested Javier Olivares in a fight between identical cars – right down to the same plain white livery!

You didn’t have to look far for a great battle on the Olympia roads, with Nick Allen and Javier Olivares continuing their fight for second place – both of them driving Ford Fiesta Rally3s belonging to Olivares.

The defending L4WD champion might be regretting his decision to help rival Allen source a new car. The latter’s Fiesta hit engine trouble in the pre-event test, so he jumped in Olivares’ car and took second place ahead of him.

Olivares sat second for much of the event, coming out of the first run through Wildcat 2.7s up, only for Allen to move ahead on the first stage of the second Sunday loop. He stayed there until the finish, celebrating his best-ever ARA finish. The consolation for Olivares is another ARA overall podium – his fifth in six starts, an outstanding achievement for the driver in only his second full season in the four-wheel drive Fiesta.

John Coyne finished fourth in his Hyundai i20 Rally2. Co-driven by rising Irish star driver Josh McErlean last time out in 100 Acre Wood, Coyne admitted he’d learned plenty from having his younger countryman alongside him in Missouri. He put all of that into play last weekend, regularly running in the top-three stage times with new navigator Aris Mantopoulos alongside.

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Richo Healey and Michelle Miller's Lexus IS200 can always be distinguished from the rest of Michael Hooper's fleet by the wheels...

Derik Nelson took a fine O2WD class win and fifth overall in the Subaru BRZ Lia Block used to win last year’s class title, with DirtFish alumni and friend Richo Healey scoring his maiden ARA L2WD class win. Healey’s Lexus was co-driven as usual by DirtFish’s very own shining star Michelle Miller. It’s hard to imagine a more popular victory for the pair aboard the pink-wheeled IS 250. Their challenge to lift the L2WD class title off Sean Donnelly (who finished just behind them in his Fiesta) is very much up and running now.

Andrew Didorosi took the NA4WD class in his Impreza, while Andy Miller took his STi to a comfortable Regional victory. Steve Redd was top O4WD Regional runner in his Subaru Impreza. David Clark overcame five bent control arms and arrived at the finish with his BMW M3 toeing-out spectacularly – but none of that stopped him winning O2WD.

Phil Clarke took L4WD in a Subaru Impreza while former DirtFish student Jonathan Compton benefitted from some wise words from our own instructor Brenten Kelly to help him to L2WD success aboard his Ford Focus.