The sixth round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National series is upon us. The Ojibwe Forests Rally will be running this Friday and Saturday, and should be a pivotal event in the 2021 National championship.
The top drivers are sure to have a fierce battle for top spot. Travis Pastrana will be in search of redemption after his wreck at New England Forest Rally while he was leading with four stage miles to go.
Barry McKenna will be on a hard push with the championship still within reach. And Ken Block and Brandon Semenuk will have nothing to lose but everything to prove as they both have been winless this season and aim to prove they’re still a threat.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 Ojibwe Forests Rally, including where you can catch some free livestreams.
Dating back to 1980, Ojibwe was first ran as a time-speed-distance rally rather than what we typically think of today. As time went on, the event became more and more like the image of the current rally scene.
In the past the rally has been visited by greats such as Stig Blomqvist, John Buffum, David Higgins, Ryan Millen, and many more.
Ojibwe Forests Rally also had the distinction of being the first full event back for the ARA after COVID-19 caused the series to halt last year. While Southern Ohio had to be limited to one day, Ojibwe was still able to put on a full two day event with over 100 stage miles.
Currently three drivers are tied for the most wins here, with Higgins, Pastrana, and Paul Choiniere each taking six apiece. Pastrana has the chance to top that leaderboard this year.
Ojibwe is known for having relatively smooth, straightforward, fast roads. Stages can get super technical when need be, but the real threat likely comes from areas where the stage switches to ATV access roads that can still surprise drivers with rocks and other hazards capable of puncturing tires.
The ability to adapt quickly while bouncing off the limiter in sixth gear could be the deciding factor between first and second here. Drivers will need to remain highly alert for all 120 stage miles, as at these speeds fractions of a second makes all the difference.
What happened last year?
Last year’s Ojibwe Forests Rally started off early with the news that Barry McKenna’s still new Škoda Fabia R5+ he planned on competing in had rolled during testing. Despite minor damage, the car was easily repairable and McKenna felt confident using the battle-scarred Škoda regardless.
Subaru Motorsports USA was having a bit of an issue early on as well as an inquiry into a rule-book grey area led to the anti-lag system it, and many other teams, were using being banned for the event before further rulings would be made later.
Once racing actually got underway Pastrana was able to pretty much dominate the event from the start. The faster stages favored the Subaru WRX STI over the Škoda R5+, but McKenna wasn’t far behind finishing only about 20 seconds off Pastrana’s pace.
Though there were a decent amount of cars that slid off the road and into some trees, the only real drama for Ojibwe last year would come from an unfortunate wreck for Pat Moro in his V8-powered Chevy Sonic, leading to the car being re-shelled ahead of its first event this year.
The 2021 entry
Though 65 entries isn’t the biggest number we’ve seen this year, the entry list is still packed with great competition, and plenty of talent.
First off, we still have the trio of Vermont Sportscar drivers Pastrana, Block, and Semenuk. McKenna and his WRC Fiesta will continue to attempt to be the thorn in the Subarus’ side this weekend as well.
Visiting us for this round of the ARA will be Briton Tom Williams. Williams is a former Junior WRC driver who has been working his way up R1 and R2 Fiestas for a few years and started getting R5 seat time in 2020. He’ll be piloting one of McKenna Motorsport’s Fiesta Rally2 cars this weekend.
Also visiting is LMP2 and NASCAR driver Kyle Tilley. Tilley has years of road racing under his belt but this will be the first rally he’s ever competed in. He will be behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Evo hoping to make a statement in the L4WD class.
Other usual suspects such as Seamus Burke, Ryan Booth, Ele Bardha, and John Coyne will be making their appearances, as well as a few familiar faces we don’t get to see as much such as Pat Moro and Lucy Block.
Notably, last minute entrant Mark Piatkowski decided to make the trek to Ojibwe after realizing he has a real chance at both NA4WD and LN4 championships if he gets a few more good finishes under his belt.
The 2021 itinerary
Ojibwe this year will be 120.1 stage miles spread across two days and 15 stages. The days are split pretty evenly with about 67 stage miles Friday and 53 on Saturday.
Friday consists of two identical four-stage loops, including the famous crossroads jump spectator area, while Saturday will see Height ‘O Land with its famous land-bridge ran twice alongside Otterkill. Anchor Mattson will finish the first loop, and two super specials will finish the second.
The super special stages this will truly be super special. Not only do they finish off the rally, they are set up at the Detroit Mountain Recreational Area where food trucks, vendors, and a giant video screen will be as well as some historic rally cars for fans to check out.
Ojibwe Forests Rally’s organizing committee is also set up with live-streaming points for fans to watch around the world for free! They plan on having a live stream point set up on each stage, and then full coverage of the DMRA stages at the end of the rally. Check here on event days for coverage!