Subaru Motorsports USA’s star man Brandon Semenuk has claimed his fifth American Rally Association National championship win in a row with victory on the Oregon Trail Rally.
Semenuk’s second win on the event, following up his 2021 success, was delivered in the most complete way possible by being fastest through all 19 stages. His smallest winning margin was 5.8 seconds, and his largest was 50.6s.
That meant he finished the rally with a 8m52.3s lead, which was 3m32.4s larger than what it was at the end of Sunday morning’s loop of stages.
The afternoon loop began with immediate drama as Samuel Albert, who had been running third, blew the rear differential on his Ferrari-powered Subaru Impreza STi and had to drop out of the rally.
That promoted the Ford Fiesta Rally3-driving Javier Olivares to third, with Jeff Seehorn in a comfortable second place, although Semenuk’s closest rivals through the afternoon actually turned out to be Lia Block and Jason Bailey.
Block, daughter of the late Ken, was driving a Subaru BRZ and she was second fastest through the second pass of Boyd Loop Very Short and Shadow Buck. Bailey was third fastest on those two stages in his Fiesta Rally3, then the pair swapped positions in the stage classification for Nagle’s Revenge and Starveout.
Heading into the powerstage, a repeat of the 7.9-mile Starveout test, Block sat 49.9s behind Olivares who had been concerned about the impact of winds on the open plains when he drove through them for the penultimate stage.
The gap between third and fourth was ultimately too large to close, and Olivares secured the bottom spot on the National podium.
“Hard to express the feeling,” he said to DirtFish. “Great rally and very enjoyable.”
Fourth place for the teenaged Block was still deeply impressive and mark the best result of her ARA career.
“Attacked by tumbleweed. Feeling great with a podium though,” she said after the powerstage. “This stage was fun even with the rutted stage [from multiple passes].”
Bailey, despite his pace, came home 10th in the National classification after he was put on the backfoot by losing seven minutes on stage three of the rally. “Perfect rally but for that one corner [on Saturday],” he summarized.
The ARA Regional runners ended their rally a stage earlier, and in dramatic style. Andy Miller comfortably claimed the rally win in his Subaru Impreza STi (and completed the 18 stages quick enough to place sixth against the National runners), and Todd Hartmann was a safe second but only after heartbreak for his rival.
Hartmann started the rally-ending Sunday afternoon loop just 2.3s ahead of Steven Redd, and that grew to almost a minute on Boyd Loop Very Short. A broken control arm left him “gutted” and put him out of the rally, lifting Chris Miller into third place by 43.5s ahead of Frenchman Julian Sebot.
Miller went on to lose over half a minute to Sebot on Nagle’s Revenge due to a flat front-left tire that needed replacing at stage-end, but it still left 22.9s between the two crews ahead of the final test. Miller was outpaced by almost an identical amount on Starveout, and Sebot agonizingly finished just 0.2s behind Miller in the end-of-rally classification.