Brandon Semenuk goes into the final loop of the Olympus Rally with a lead of over three minutes as he closes in on a ninth career win in the American Rally Association National championship.
The Subaru Motorsports USA star continued his faultless run on the event, bring his tally of stage wins to 10 out of 10 on the second pass through the iconic Wildcat stage and the far shorter Dayton.
Semenuk was fastest by 21.7 seconds through Wildcat in his Subaru WRX STI, with Tom Williams once again best of the rest in his Ford Fiesta Rally2.
Patrick Gruszka was third fastest, 1m44.6s slower than Semenuk in his Hyundai i20 R5 but bringing himself to within 20s of Jeff Seehorn for third place overall on the rally.
Having believed he had overworked his soft tires on the first pass of the stages, Semenuk opted to switch to mediums on all four corners for the second time through and felt the benefit as on Wildcat he found a cleaner line and less mud – and therefore more grip – than earlier in the day.
Williams meanwhile made some rear differential tweaks that improved his traction, but ultimately still left him trailing Semenuk by some margin.
Gruszka revealed to DirtFish at stage-end that he had picked up damage, while those who went into the stage later were shocked to find that a knocked over stage-side portajohn (a portable toilet cubicle) had left some spillage on the stage itself. Saying it was slippery was the most appropiate description of its impact on grip levels on that stretch of road.
The stage caught out several drivers, while others overcame issues with their cars that had hampered them before. This included Lucy Block, who had a fully functioning turbo after running without it on previous stages. Despite being pleased to have full power again, she actually lost tenth place overall in the rally to her daugher Lia.
Semenuk’s advantage over Williams on Dayton was 8.1s, and Seehorn was 2.1s faster than Gruszka to sit 21.9s ahead of him prior to the two superspecial stages that end the rally.
Vincent Trudel hit a tree with the front-right of his car while pushing on SS9 and actually extended his advantage in eighth place, but then rolled out of the next stage and it promoted Lia Block to eighth overall after she posted the seventh-fastest time on Dayton.
Way down the order there was a 10-minute penalty issued to Tim O’Neil after he returned to service in his AMC AMX illegally before SS7, which was Sunday’s opening stage. Later in the day he had a big off that registered 9G.
Olympus Regional Rally frontrunner Jason Cochell also had an incident on Dayton that required an SOS call, but he was confirmed to be fine afterwards. It put him out of the rally, promoting Michael Honn to second place overall behind the dominant Andy Miller.