The opening round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish season is in the books, and what a rally it was.
It was Subaru Motorsports USA’s Travis Pastrana that took victory on his first Sno*Drift Rally in 11 years, with Brandon Semenuk coming home second to complete the first Subaru 1-2 finish since 2019.
But who impressed DirtFish the most? Check out our Sno*Drift driver ratings below.
Travis Pastrana – 8/10
Sno*Drift result: 1st
Subaru – and by extension Pastrana – aren’t fans of losing. But Subaru did lose last year, as Barry McKenna scooped its cherished ARA National title.
A dominant victory – winning nine from 12 stages – was therefore the perfect way for Pastrana to kick off his 2021 rallying season.
His track record on Sno*Drift spoke for itself with three victories prior to this year’s event, but he hadn’t been to Michigan for over a decade. Barely put a foot wrong and attacked the stages like only he knows how.
Brandon Semenuk – 9/10
Sno*Drift result: 2nd
Despite coming home over a minute down on his team-mate, this was another deeply impressive drive from Semenuk who further underlined his championship credentials after a strong 2020.
Semenuk is quite familiar with winter rallying in his native Canada but he was a Sno*Drift rookie before the weekend – and had never driven the Subaru WRX STI in those conditions before either. You simply wouldn’t have known it based on his stage times, and he even managed to nick $1 from his team-mate!
A very good performance.
Barry McKenna – 6/10
Sno*Drift result: 3rd
McKenna spent most of 2020 destroying his opposition as he roared to a maiden US rallying title in just his fifth ever season of competition. However, Sno*Drift 2021 wasn’t up there with his finest performances.
The Irishman struggled to find the same traction in the snow as his Subaru rivals on tires he felt were inferior, and was then hampered by a throttle problem aboard his Ford Fiesta R5+. A lot of this wasn’t his fault, but in truth, he never looked like stopping Subaru checking out with the 1-2 finish it ultimately scored.
Seamus Burke – 7/10
Sno*Drift result: 4th
The reigning ARA 2WD Champion stepped up to the family’s four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi for Sno*Drift, a wise call given crews were prohibited from using studded tires. Extra traction was certainly a bonus.
Burke wasn’t the fastest out there but he was one of the smartest, using his experience to keep out of trouble and net a strong fourth overall; his best placing since Olympus Rally 2019 in a Ford Fiesta R5.
Mark Piatkowski – 9/10
Sno*Drift result: 5th (1st, NA4WD)
Piatkowski didn’t really have any right to be finishing fifth in his Subaru Impreza RS but that’s exactly what he did on round one. He used the unique demands of the Sno*Drift to his advantage and delivered.
It was a drive reminiscent of Jimmy Pelizzari’s giant-killing performance last year, albeit slightly less startling.
Enda McCormack – 5/10
Sno*Drift result: 6th
There was some strong fanfare surrounding McCormack’s entry as he brought a Hyundai i20 R5 to the US rally stage for the first time, but it wasn’t the most eye-catching of performances.
A spin on the middle loop cost him, as did a one-minute penalty for checking into SS7 early. Without he’d have been fifth, but he probably should have been fourth given the machinery at his disposal.
André D’Orazio – 10/10
Sno*Drift result: 10th (1st, O2WD)
A sublime drive. Won all but three of the stages in the two-wheel-drive class to record a near four-minute victory at the head of the field with the vastly experienced Alex Gelsomino calling the notes.
That in itself is impressive, but factor in the fact this was D’Orazio’s first rally in the Ford Fiesta R2T (stepping up from R1) and just the fourth of his entire senior career, you realize what a special talent this teenager is.
The drive of the rally; one that was rewarded with 10th overall in the National standings too.
Nate Tennis – 5/10
Sno*Drift result: 12th (2nd, O2WD)
DirtFish’s lead instructor ventured onto the competitive rally stages for the first time in a couple of years, but it wouldn’t be a dream return. There was some encouraging pace, but perhaps Tennis pushed himself and the Subaru BRZ a little too hard at points, and that ultimately cost him.
Clipping a tree towards the end only added insult to injury and cost him more time. Even with these challenges, Nate went on to finish second behind D’Orazio in the 2WD class.
Joseph Burke, Ryan Booth & John Coyne – 3/10
Sno*Drift result: DNF
We’ve lumped these three drivers together as the story of their rallies were virtually identical.
All three were in Ford Fiesta R5s and all three didn’t see far past the first service. Incredibly, Booth and Coyne went off on exactly the same corner on the fifth stage while Burke was perhaps more unlucky as he ran into mechanical strife.
Ultimately, they all misjudged the treacherous conditions and paid the price.