Brandon Semenuk hopes to return to the stages under super-rally rules after his off on SS2 of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally.
Semenuk had trailed American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship rival Ken Block by just half a second after the first test, but slipped off the road on a slick left hander on the second – giving his rival a major boost in the pair’s battle for the title.
After making his way back to service, Semenuk told DirtFish that while things looked bad at the scene, he’s not so sure that his Subaru has much in the way of terminal damage, and he’s hopeful to rejoin on Saturday in super-rally.
“[Super-rally is] uncertain,” he said. “What the car looks like, it’s mostly cosmetic. The wheels are all straight. We went off, you know, at a fairly low speed. So, assuming we didn’t tag a tree on any of the bits of the cage, we might be OK.
“It just takes them pulling the car out and assessing it for the weekend.
“I think at the end of the day, it seemed surprising we went off where we did, but I don’t know. We were pushing obviously on the first stage and that went well.”
Semenuk had also pulled ahead in the splits for stage two over Block, theoretically taking the lead had he finished.
“So, obviously, we were theoretically leading for a split second there and then had the mistake and that’s rally over,” Semenuk continued.
“But I guess the positive is showing up to a new event that these guys have experienced that I’ve never done and being able to be on pace like that.
“I know Travis is pushing but we’ve been ahead of his pace, and able to keep up with Ken. So it’s unfortunate that it didn’t last longer than those two stages.
“I wouldn’t say it’s my rally but there’s definitely some bits where it seemed like maybe Ken and Alex [Gelsomino, co-driver] were uncomfortable with that I quite enjoyed as far as like the roads, the profile, and the steepness and whatnot.”
Of course, if Semenuk makes it back onto the stages, it would still be a long shot to win the championship he’s come so close to this year.
Finishing the rally is a guaranteed two points, but without working his way deeper into the field from his super-rally disadvantage, the best damage he can do to Block’s rally is to win the powerstage tomorrow afternoon.
While numerically it looks good for Block to win the rally and the championship, he’s not celebrating until the trophy is in-hand.
“I don’t think the championship’s done till LSPR is done,” he told DirtFish after SS4.
“I don’t think we can lock up enough points here to be clear to the point we don’t even have to show up at all for LSPR. So I think we just have to score as many points as we can here and look forward to LSPR after this.”
Block currently holds a one-minute lead over now second place Travis Pastrana with 12 stages left to go this weekend.
Tom Williams is back in the ARA field currently behind Travis in third, with ‘Texas Dave’ Carapetyan leading over Klim Fedoff in the LN4 class, sitting in fourth overall.
Probably the most exciting battle thus far in Semenuk’s absence has been that of Seamus Burke and Micah Nickleson in the Open 2WD class, with the two trading times for the top of the leaderboard.
STPR still has three quarters of the event left to go though, and there’s still plenty of time for more surprises.