Brandon Semenuk won’t be chilling on the jumps in Michigan this week. His words. The defending ARA champion is, of course, entirely comfortable in the air (with two or four wheels beneath him) but Sno*Drift is going to be different.
The conditions for the season-opener are radically changed from anything that’s been seen on the Lower Peninsula stages for more than two decades. There’s just not that much snow. Semenuk senses it might be time to step back in time. Back to October and a land further north.
“We don’t have a snow-ice set-up for this car,” Semenuk told DirtFish. “So the goal is to basically show up to the event prepared with a set-up we feel comfortable driving, which we accomplished. But now we’re here and we’ve maybe got to flip the plan on its head because we almost need to go back to an LSPR-type set-up, where it’s this kind of wet, gravel, may-rut-up kind of set-up.”
Talking through the change in set-up from a typical Sno*Drift car – which is ready for snow and ice – back to a car which would suit the ARA’s fall event in Michigan, Semenuk said: “It’s a wildly different car for snow to gravel like this. Obviously on snow, we’re going to have a much softer spring, way lower anti-lag, and try to eliminate as much pushing into the corners and things like that as well as some other rebound and bump stop adjustments.
“There’s a lot of big jumps at this rally, so we might need to be a bit more aggressive with the bump stops, knowing we’ll be carrying a lot more speed at them. We have just got to find a happy medium of like: if it’s a bit frozen or if there’s a bit of snow in places, can we find a balance where it’s still going to work in those slippery bits, but we can get the performance out of the gravel roads?”
Talking of jumps, Semenuk’s rally will be around 60 seconds old when the factory WRX is in the air for the first time, courtesy of the legendary, Finland-style road off the start in the Shoreline stage.
What’s the approach?
“With Travis [Pastrana] around, we can’t really chill on the jumps,” said Semenuk.
“He’ll hit them flat, and yeah, we’ll have to carry speed, especially straightaways like that. You need to capitalize on carrying momentum. We’ll be jumping the car for sure. I think there’ll be a couple tricky ones where maybe, if we’re flying a bit further, we need to be concerned about the next crest behind it and just kind of weighing out how much speed we can carry.
“There’s going to be some serious speed carried in this rally, kind of compared to LSPR or 100 Acre [Wood ], where it’s going to be that colder, maybe damper rally. But just flat-out everywhere.”
The first stage gets underway at 1817 on Friday, local time.
Subaru #1’s take off is scheduled for 1818.
(And further evidence of his ability to fly two wheels as well as four is available right here.)