Semenuk on course for ARA title at NEFR

The reigning champion is doing all he needs to do, but there's a big battle brewing behind

WhatsApp Image 2023-07-15 at 00.02.54

Brandon Semenuk is on course to secure his second American Rally Association National title in a row as he leads the New England Forest Rally after Friday’s leg.

Semenuk and co-driver Keaton Williams only need to score one point this weekend in their Subaru Motorsports USA WRX STI to assure themselves of the 2023 title, but have kept up the same intensity that’s allowed them to construct such a commanding championship lead.

Undefeated to a stage win since the 100 Acre Wood Rally in March, the Subaru star extended his run to win all five stages on the first day – including both passes of the iconic Concord Pond test – which earned him a 2m23.6-second lead with 10 stages remaining on Saturday.

The battle for second place has been much closer between a trio of RC2 drivers Miguel Granados, Patrick Gruszka and Allen Dobasu.

Mexican driver Granados was quickest of the bunch on SS1 to lie an early second, only for Dobasu – who’s being co-driven by the legendary Stéphane Prévot this weekend – to leap ahead after the second stage.

Hyundai-mounted Gruszka then nipped ahead of Granados on SS3 to rise to third and began chipping away at second-placed Dobasu’s Ford Fiesta Rally2.

By SS4 Gruszka had nosed ahead and he extended his advantage to six seconds overnight, with Granados still firmly in podium contention behind Dobasu in his Škoda.

On his first ARA National start in almost a year, Ryan Booth is an impressive fifth overall in his Ford Escort Mk2, leading the Open 2WD class.

That advantage is held over 16-year-old Lia Block who moved past reigning class champion Seamus Burke on the final stage of the day.

Sandwiched by the O2WD battle, Arek Bialobrzeski and Liam McNeils are enjoying a tight fight for sixth and seventh places overall; Bialobrzeski’s NA4WD Subaru heading McNeils’ L4WD Ford Fiesta Rally3 by just 15.6s.

Juan Carlos Peralta is eighth overnight in his Škoda, just 6.4s ahead of Lucy Block while Burke completes the overall top 10.

You can follow every twist and turn of this weekend’s New England Forest Rally (July 14/15) on DirtFish Live Center.

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