Brandon Semenuk has won the 2022 ARA presented by DirtFish National championship, claiming his first national title.
Semenuk entered the rally behind Ken Block in the championship, but life was made a lot easier for him after Ken Block crashed on Friday’s penultimate stage.
It was initially expected that Block would restart on Saturday, but that didn’t happen after it was discovered that the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC had suffered significant damage to the suspension, frame, and roll cage.
With Block out of the frame for the remaining stages, it meant there was slightly less pressure on Semenuk as he aimed to claim his first title, albeit he still needed to finish at least second and then do well on the powerstage.
But as Saturday started, it was Semenuk’s team-mate Travis Pastrana stealing all the headlines.
He started Saturday 29.7 seconds down on Semenuk, but by SS10 he had reduced that gap to just 12.2s. However, his pursuit for the lead was thwarted on SS11 when Pastrana suffered with a throttle issue, allowing Semenuk to regain 17.3s.
“It was a pretty cautious start to the day, Travis was on it, he was going so well,” Semenuk said to DirtFish.
“I think he had some pretty good experience on those stages and he just ruined us.
“Some of the stages were too close for comfort, but I knew if I was going to push a bit and have a good rhythm I’d probably do it on the Wildcat and Trouble stages.
“It seemed like Travis had some sort of issue on the starting line, like stalled or whatever so he lost some time.
“It would have been good to know where he ended up on that stage with a clean run for the next loop where it’s the powerstage.
But Semenuk needn’t have worried as he went on to win the next four out of five stages to beat Pastrana by 40.3s
Tom Williams was third, but ended up a long way off the Subaru Motorsports USA duo, finishing the rally 6m40s behind the pair. His day wasn’t helped by the fact he picked up a puncture on the opening stage of the day, while also losing further time on the Wildcat test after believing he had lost the exhaust from his Ford Fiesta Rally2.
But as he arrived at the following stage, that turned out not to be the case at all. Pastrana made Williams aware that the rear hatch of the Fiesta was open, and it turned out that this was the reason why the exhaust noise was sounding louder than normal, not an issue with the car itself.
Grzegorz Bugaj ended up fourth after Allen Dobasu’s retirement on Saturday’s opening test. He was over 14 minutes off the leaders as he crossed the finish line, but 12.3s ahead of Tim Whitteridge in fifth
Mark Piatkowski needed to be ahead of Whitteridge for to win the LN4 Championship a second year in a row, but was just 13.1s behind in seventh.
Michael Hooper ended up seventh in his Lexus IS 350, while Chris Sladek managed to finish eighth, 59.8s further back, winning the LN4 championship in the process.
Dave Wallingford and Dylan Murcott rounded out the top ten.
Roberto Yglesias was set to win the L2WD Cup, but it required Alex Ramos to finish ahead of Paul Dickinson, which would have forced a three way points tie for the Cup that Yglesias was set to win the tie breaker on.
Unfortunately, the differential of Ramos’ rented DC2 Integra gave out on the rally ending Super Special stage, allowing Dickinson to win the Cup.