Brandon Semenuk leads the Oregon Trail Rally by over two minutes following the first loop of Saturday stages.
The Subaru Motorsports USA driver and American Rally Association National points leader started off the event by going fastest through both passes of the Founders Olmstead, Moore, Nagle super special stage on Friday night to head into Saturday with a lead of 28.4 seconds over Samuel Albert.
His advantage more than doubled on the first pass of Dalles Mtn Up on Saturday morning, going fastest by 36.4s over fellow Subaru WRX STi driver Jeff Seehorn who rose into second place overall. Albert dropped 56.7s on the stage in his Subaru Impreza STi, and was slower than Javier Olivares who was driving a Rally3-spec Ford Fiesta.
The Great Horseshoe was the stage that followed, and despite being considerably shorter than SS3 it was still a place where Albert lost a lot of time. Semenuk added 24.4s to his lead over Seehorn, Olivares was third fastest again, and just 0.1s slower than him was George Plsek in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX. A further 4.8s back, and 45.4s off the pace, was Albert.
He now has a big task on his hands to reel Seehorn back in and fight for second place, and through the Oak Flat Reverse stage he was 13.5s slower than stage-winner Semenuk and 4.1s faster than Seehorn. An impressive fourth fastest was Jason Bailey, another of the Fiesta Rally3 drivers, although his performance counted for nothing given he was already a distant last place.
The loop ended on the brief Maryhill test, which Semenuk took just 172 seconds to complete. Albert was 8.5s slower in second place, with Seehorn another two seconds back. That means Semenuk heads into the repeat passes with a sizeable 2m02.9s lead over Seehorn, who has a gap of 29.6s to Albert.
Semenuk’s tricky road-sweeping work was done in the morning so he could potentially be even more dominant second time through.
The Subaru Impreza was the car to have among the ARA Regional runners, and Andy Miller drove his example into a 27.4s lead on Friday night. He grew that to 1m08s through the next four stages, although it was fellow Impreza driver Steven Redd who won SS5 and SS6.
Redd sits third, 2.7s behind Todd Hartmann, having started the day second in the Regional classification. Miller meanwhile would fit into sixth in the overall classification were the National and Regional entrants combined.