Subaru Motorsports USA’s Brandon Semenuk was untouchable through the Friday afternoon loop of the Southern Ohio Forest Rally, winning all four stages.
It means Semenuk has been unbeaten through the first two days of the fifth round of the American Rally Association National championship, and he looks on course for another rally win to boost his already huge points advantage as he leads the event by four minutes-and-40 seconds.
The loop began with the repeat pass of the Saddle Up stage, and Semenuk was fastest by 13.8s over Tom Williams.
The Ford Fiesta Rally2 driver had been Semenuk’s closest rival prior to an SS5 mistake that lost him close to eight minutes, and his impressive SS6 time only brought him back up to 15th place.
There was a similar gap between the top two on SS7, the second pass of Disco Inferno 50 Cent Remix, which brought Williams up to 13th as Semenuk extended his advantage over the Hyundai i20 R5-driving Patrick Gruszka to beyond four minutes.
Barry McKenna was a further 81s behind in his older Ford Escort RS 1800 Mk2, with Enda McCormack in touching distance of him in another Hyundai.
There was drama on the longer Top Gun North Short stage, as McKenna’s impressive run ended by hitting a bridge and in the ARA Regional classification Philip Wearn retired from second place too.
Semenuk meanwhile extended his rally lead by half a minute, McCormack moved into third, Michael Hooper inherited the two-wheel-drive lead from McKenna in fifth, Williams rose to seventh by being second fastest again and Adam Kimmett nearly doubled his ARA Regional lead to beyond a minute.
It all got a bit calmer on the day-ending Zorn’s Hollow test, with Semenuk once again fastest and Williams moving up to fifth overall by only being five seconds slower than him.
Lia and Lucy Block currently round out the top ten, but are in the battle for fifth.
Kimmett is actually ahead of Williams in the combined classification, and now has Ryan Rethy completing a provisional Subaru lockout of the ARA Regional podium.
Wearn, who also drives a Subaru, was reported as stopped in SS8 and did not make the start of the day’s final stage.
There are 11 stages packed into Saturday, but overhauling the current leaders before the end of the rally will be difficult as the stages are shorter and there are 15 fewer miles than in the first full day of action.