With the American Rally Association’s year about to kick off at Sno*Drift, teams were finally able to get a first-hand look at the stages being run this year. Though they all have a similar feel to stages of the past, the organizers have tried to keep away from running in areas that are too popular to prevent spectators from gathering, and the risk of having the event shut down due to strict lockdown restrictions in Michigan.
Another precaution organizers have put in place is moving the event to a smaller area and running four stages three times on a single day, cutting down on transit times and road closures.
With that said, there’s still plenty of great racing to come. DirtFish got a good look at the stages while out on Friday’s recce. Here’s what we noticed:
SS1/5/9 (6.52 miles)
The first stage of the loop is a 6.52-mile dash that starts off on a tight road going through the woods, leading shortly into one of the most notable parts of the stage, a long downhill turn that, if not careful, the drivers could easily slide off of and into the banks.
The stage opens up afterwards into some wider roads with very easy turns that should allow cars to reach some very high speeds. Soft banks on this stage could pull competitors in and not let go if they aren’t careful.
SS2/6/10 (4.20 miles)
Continuing on from the first stage of the loop, the second stage begins by sending drivers uphill towards a turn. Special Stage 2 is really where the speed of these roads is shown, consisting of mostly fifth and sixth gear corners and with decently long straights in between, the stage comes to an end after a square [90°] left leads to a long straight and a huge crest for the flying finish.
SS3/7/11 (10.42 miles)
The longest and probably most interesting stage comes next. At 10.42 miles, there’s a lot to unpack for drivers wanting to succeed in SS3. The stage overall is a bit tighter and slower than the previous two have been, meaning drivers will need to adjust their style.
This stage will also offer a good amount of weightlessness with some Sweden-esque jumps, fast-yet-tight turns, and plenty of blind crests. There’s a good bit of inconsistency in the road surface, switching between dirt, ice, and snow at a moment’s notice.
SS4/8/12 (7.40 miles)
The final stage of the loop brings drivers into what feels more like a snow-covered Olympus Rally if nothing else.
There are back and forth turns, going up and down with a very narrow road through trees that are ready to stop anyone who gets too loose.
This stage offers the steepest elevation changes, sure to cause 2WD classes to struggle uphill and all classes to slow downhill to avoid any unexpected loss of traction. SS4 will also offer another set of jumps to any drivers daring enough to carry high speeds on the slick and narrow roads.