Semenuk streaks ahead in delayed start to Olympus Rally

Wet weather posed a car-destroying challenge on the opening two stages, and Semenuk prevailed


Brandon Semenuk leads the Olympus Rally by 34.7 seconds after two stages, which were held in sodden conditions.

Despite the proximity of water in all directions, the start of the rally was actually delayed due to one competitor’s car setting on fire, instigating an SOS signal that also meant SS2 was automatically delayed.

The opening stage, Nahwatzel, claimed its first victim at the very start as Sam Albert had a rear-right wheel failure as he moved off the line.

The start of the stage was characterized by puddles hiding deep potholes and ruts, with some areas even flooded entirely so it was hard to tell where the stage surface was underneath.

Ruts got longer and deeper as the stage went on, claiming several drivers whose cars bottomed out after pushing through troughs of water.

The notable wideness of the stage in several areas gave competitors more opportunities to avoid the water, but there was no resemblance of a consistent or flat surface and so all lines proved challenging.


But Subaru Motorsports USA’s Semenuk came through unfazed and in 15m31.1s, meaning he was 24.1 seconds faster than anyone else.

RC2 class driver Tom Williams was his closest rival in his Ford Fiesta Rally2, with Patrick Gruszka a further 44.2s back in his Hyundai i20 R5.

Drivers who came through later in the running order said it was “super slippery”

The Cougar Meadow stage that followed was considerably shorter and more of the stage surface was visible. But it also had heavily rutted corners in amongst the trees, meaning the visibility benefit was minimalized.

Semenuk was faster than Williams by 10.6s this time, equating to 2.07s per mile while he had been 1.44s per mile faster in SS1.

The Subaru-driving Jeff Seehorn beat Gruszka to the third fastest time by 1.8s, but Gruszka comfortably retained third place overall over Alejandro Perusina in his Toyota RAV4 AP4, a car certainly more suited for the wet and boggy conditions.

Another car fire led to several drivers further down the running order not getting to contest SS1 and SS2 as they were sent straight to SS3 with a scratch time.