Brandon Semenuk has claimed a last gasp 100 Acre Wood Rally win as Ken Block hit a deer and dropped a minute on the final stage.
Block, debuting his new Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, led the majority of the second round of the 2022 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship and looked well on course to extend his record of 100AW Rally victories from seven to eight.
He’d put the hard yards in on Friday, initially dicing with the returning ARA National champion Travis Pastrana before breaking free when Pastrana punctured and generally struggled in the wetter conditions of the second pass of the stages.
Block’s lead stood at half a minute over Semenuk after the first day and the Hoonigan Racing Division driver extended that advantage as high as 52.2s with just two stages to go courtesy of a string of fastest times.
But striking the local wildlife on the final test cost him just north of a minute and allowed Semenuk to sneak by and claim his first win of the season and first alongside new-for-2022 co-driver Keaton Williams – payback for the mechanical failure that robbed the pair of victory on the opening round.
Block slotted into second, 16.7s down on Semenuk while Barry McKenna – contesting his first event since the New England Forest Rally last July – repeated his 100AW Rally result of 12 months ago in third.
McKenna also suffered a puncture on Friday like Pastrana, however the Ford Fiesta WRC pilot did win the points-paying powerstage, edging Pastrana by a single second on the test but by a more handsome 53.8s overall.
Despite winning the opening stage of the rally and leading the event at first service, it was a somewhat subdued return to action for Pastrana – competing in his first event since breaking his pelvis in a BASE jump accident during the off-season – as he came home 1m33.1s behind his rally-winning team-mate.
On his first event of the new season, Tom Williams scored a credible fifth place in his Ford Fiesta Rally2 alongside new co-driver Ross Whittock, winning the RC2 class by over three minutes.
That didn’t reflect the ferocity of the battle though as Williams led Johnny O’Sullivan by just 0.2s at the end of the first day.
Williams attacked Saturday with more confidence and vigor than he had the previous day, but when O’Sullivan crashed on the day’s second test the Englishman was clear.
Sno*Drift winner and ARA National championship leader Mark Piatkowski got the better of reignign RC2 class champion Enda McCormack to finish sixth overall and second in class.
Piatkowski was driving Kyle Tilley’s Ford Fiesta R5 instead of his usual Subaru Impreza following his giant-killing performance on the snow and ice last month; the opportunity arising as Tilley had a schedule-clash with his endurance racing commitments.
Co-driven by Semenuk’s old navigator John Hall for the event, Piatkowski had no major moments other than a spin and a missing front bumper over a water crossing to speak about as he gradually got to grips with the R5 machine.
Patrick Moro scored his first ARA National top 10 finish in eighth with his Chevrolet Sonic ahead of Dave Carapetyan and Dylan Murcott’s Subarus.
Carapetryan however did enough to win the LN4 class, just over half a minute ahead of Murcott, while Cameron Steely topped the Open 2WD class in his Ford Fiesta almost four minutes up on Micah Nickelson’s Volkswagen Golf.
Zachary Jacques emerged victorious in ARA Central Regional in his 2015 Subaru WRX STI, edging Ryan Rethy’s Subaru Wagon and Nick Bragg’s Audi Coupe Quattro. Jimmy Pelizzari had been keeping Jacques honest but retired just two stages from the end.
Leading SS12 times
1 Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford) 5m47.0s
2 Travis Pastrana/Rhianon Gelsomino (Subaru) +1.0s
3 Brandon Semenuk/Keaton Williams (Subaru) +1.1s
4 Tom Williams/Ross Whittock (Ford) +28.6s
5 Mark Piatkowski/John Hall (Ford) +33.7s
6 Patrick Moro/Ole Holter (Chevrolet) +47.7s
7 Enda McCormack/Liam McCormack (Hyundai) +48.1s
8 Klim Fedoff/Andres Romero (Mitsubishi) +55.0s
9 Zachary Jacques/Ronald Jacques (Subaru) +57.6s
10 Dylan Murcott/Andrew Sims (Subaru) +59.6s
Final classification after SS12
1 Semenuk/Williams (Subaru) 1h09m52.1s
2 Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino (Hyundai) +16.7s
3 McKenna/Jordan (Ford) +39.3s
4 Pastrana/Gelsomino (Subaru) +1m33.1s
5 Williams/Whittock (Ford) +6m40.5s
6 Piatkowski/Hall (Ford) +9m33.8s
7 McCormack/McCormack (Hyundai) +9m46.9s
8 Moro/Holter (Chevrolet) +10m40.2s
9 Dave Carapetyan/Danny Norkus (Subaru) +11m12.4s
10 Murcott/Sims (Subaru) +11m45.8s
1 Piatkowski 34 2 Semenuk 25 3 Kyle Tilley 19 4 McKenna 19 5 Block 17 6 Pastrana 16 7 Philip Wearn 14 8 Patrick Gruszka 14 9 Vivian Campbell 12 10 Williams 12