What Semenuk’s thinking ahead of ARA Subaru debut

ARA finally resumes tonight with a very different Southern Ohio Forest Rally

Brandon Semenuk

New Subaru signing Brandon Semenuk isn’t expecting a truncated American Rally Association National season to have a huge impact on his approach to his first full top-flight rallying season in the US.

Semenuk, who has had plenty of rallying experience in his native Canada along with a handful of US outings prior to this year, said that just because the 2020 season will be shorter, he doesn’t feel he needs to push harder to impress immediately.

“Honestly, just because we have a shorter season doesn’t mean I’ll change my driving style, or how hard I push,” he told DirtFish ahead of tonight’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally – the first ARA event since January’s Sno*Drift.

“It’s my first race in this car, I haven’t done any long stages in it.

“I really need to gain the experience and without finishing some stages or finishing a rally I’m not going to get much experience.”

Brandon Semenuk

Tonight’s Southern Ohio Forest Rally is the second round of this year’s ARA National series, but it will be Subaru’s 2020 bow, the Vermont SportsCar-led team having elected to skip the season-opening Sno*Drift for the fifth straight year.

Semenuk will be taking a somewhat cautious approach, seeing where he fits in the overall competitive order rather than going for outright glory straight away.

“I definitely want to have a clean rally, and just see where I sit on pace, and maybe if I’m in a position to get a better spot I might make a push, but I’m not going for a win on the first stage,” he added.

Semenuk’s long-awaited debut for Subaru Motorsport USA comes amid the backdrop of the ARA’s return from the coronavirus lockdown.

The Southern Ohio Forest Rally has been condensed from a three-day competition into a single-night event, with a number of health and safety measures implemented and no fans allowed at service or on the stages.

Semenuk is wary of the challenges posed by the lower light levels and longer stages in this weekend’s event, and doesn’t think the lack of spectators will make much difference to him once he’s in action.

“I was pretty excited to start racing at Subaru Motorsports USA this year, [it is] a bit of anti-climactic start with the pandemic, but we just waited patiently and we’re finally here for our first event,” he said.

“Obviously it’s awesome to have spectators, and that’s what we want with rallying is to bring more people in, [but] for me, I got into rallying because I just liked being out in the woods with the car doing my thing. This rally is, even more so, where we get to do that.

“It’s not really going to bother me, but hopefully in the future things will clear up and we can get more people participating, whether it’s spectators or drivers.

“The roads look awesome, but they’re definitely very technical, and expecting a lot of dust tonight.

“[I’m thinking about] how hard to push and where to push, cause there’s a lot of ‘gotchas’ out there.”