This weekend’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally is round four of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National season. A big challenge is expected.
To find out just how big a challenge, the DirtFish team recce’d the rally’s nine different stages. Three of those will be on Friday night, and six – all repeated once – on Saturday. Here’s what we learned.
SS1 Yoctangee Street Stage (0.96 miles)
The first stage is a one-mile superspecial through Yoctangee Park. The stage has been used historically in the earlier days of rallying in Ohio, and has a small notable jump that could be dangerous if anyone tries to show off. As always, the rally probably won’t be won here but it certainly could be lost.
SS2 Summer Vista (4.36 miles)
Named after the historic Sunrise Rally that used to run in these forests, Sunriser Vista comes in at just under 5 miles. The stage starts off as asphalt but has large amounts of gravel on it in spots that could cause issues. The stage continues pretty fast, but many turns are blind and won’t be forgiving is the teams notes are wrong.
The stage progressively gets more and more difficult and unpredictable as it continues with many hairpins and sharp crests that could spell trouble for anyone who is too trusting of what lies beyond a blind turn or crest.
SS3 Brutus (13.49 miles)
Brutus will be one of, if not the most dangerous stage of the rally. The road has a small crown and leads toward a steep cliff on one side. Brutus is expected to be quite dark as it runs as a night stage, meaning the risk of fog will be greater on top of the already limited visibility.
With rain rolling in this afternoon, the stage will likely still be slick come race time, and be a true mental test to the teams as they attempt to navigate through the limited visibility Brutus offers.
SS4/7 Diagon Alley (7.49 miles)
Named after the famous spot in Harry Potter, Diagon Alley starts with a large set of hairpins that take you up a steep hill. The gravel roads are thin but how tend to flow over the ups and downs of the Southern Ohio landscape. There’s a few blind crests that could cause issues and act as “gotchas” if drivers aren’t careful.
The hairpins return as the road descends back down to the starting elevation, and the stage ends switching to a short asphalt section.
SS5/8 Disco Inferno (6.40 miles)
Disco Inferno climbs up, down, back up, and then back down with an elevation change of roughly 500 feet. The stage starts on asphalt and takes drivers over a small bridge. Drivers then get dumped into a set of tarmac hairpins that could eat away at the gravel tires they’ll be using prematurely.
Turning to gravel, the stage starts to flow and speed up. Going up and down there’s plenty of crests and hidden areas that could be a threat. At just over six miles long, the relatively short stage lasts roughly as long as the disco fad itself.
SS6/9 Top Gun North Short (13.26 miles)
Top Gun North Short starts with super sharp, super steep roads on gravel leading drivers uphill. The stage switches to a super fast asphalt section about 2.5 miles in before going back to gravel around mile five. The stage becomes very risky and tight in the second gravel section, with ditches on either side littered with concrete culverts like the one that nearly took out Brandon Semenuk last year.
‘Don’t cut’ will likely show up all over pace notes in this section. The stage goes on to another asphalt section, this time very tight and technical, before a fast yet deceptive gravel section to finish things off.
SS10/13 Lamp Black West (2.81 miles)
Lamp Black West is a relatively fast stage. There’s a couple of hairpins and about half a dozen tighter corners that drivers will have to slow down for, but overall the stage should carry high speeds and allow for drivers to open up, so long as they’re mindful of the tight roads.
SS11/14 Hello Middle Earth Hairpin! (10.86 miles)
Hello Middle Earth Hairpin! combines the beginning of Diagon Alley with the majority of Disco Inferno. The two stages are connected with just a small section of stage that is unique to Hello Middle Earth! that lies right in the middle of the total stage length.
This new section is nothing too crazy, but overall the combination of the two stages will be a test of drivers overall abilities, and how hard they’re willing to push.
SS12/15 Top Gun South Short (11.38 miles)
Save for the start of the stage, this is a very tight and technical stage. The first big threat is a blind crest right in the middle of a fast turn. Getting light here could send cars into the trees, or down the side of a steep hill, therefore a great amount of caution is needed.
An asphalt section a few miles in returns to high speed racing before eventually dropping racers in to a gravel hairpin. The stage is still fast on gravel, but roads remain tight, and ditches are filled with those same dangerous culverts ready to put a quick end to anyone who pushes slightly too hard.