The clash. Should he stay or should he go?
Last year LSPR and Red Bull Rampage fell on consecutive weekends, but Brandon Semenuk overcame significant logistical complications to win the rally, a maiden ARA title and then podium his bike on the world’s most extreme big-mountain freeride.
It was a balancing act which ended in success, a good story and a great movie.
This year LSPR and Rampage clash.
“They fully overlap,” said Semenuk. “The first day of the rally is finals day at Rampage. I just can’t be in two places at once…”
The perspective is going to be that this is car over bike, but it’s really not that way at all
Decision time. Bike or car. Car or bike.
It’s car time. Isn’t it?
Semenuk smiles, he’s seen this one coming. “I can see the perspective is going to be that this is car over bike, but it’s really not that way at all.”
There’s much more to this one than the four-time Rampage winner preferring the seat of his Subaru to the saddle of his Trek.
“I’ve been putting together this [mountain bike] project,” he told DirtFish. “I tried to make it work last year, but couldn’t – I’ve been trying for a few years. In the spring I’d booked dates for [for the project]. It was a tricky area to permit to do the shoot and they gave me a strict window.
“Those dates were end of September falling into October. Rampage is usually late October, so it felt like it could all work out: I can do the project, then do LSPR and then make it to Rampage. Then Rampage dates came out and everything overlapped.”
With him and co-driver Keaton Williams already having secured a second ARA title, the thinking was that he would head to Utah rather than Michigan. Certainly, that was Subaru’s thinking.
“Subaru was great,” he said, “they put no pressure on me at all and were actually expecting me to go to Rampage. Obviously, Subaru wanted to be at LSPR and they wanted me to be there as well, but we’d won the championship… they were looking at other options.
“This wasn’t so much about deciding whether I was doing the rally or Rampage it was about doing this mountain bike project or Rampage.
“The piece of land to do the project is really, kind of once-in-a-lifetime. It’s really inspiring for me – I’ve been working towards this for a long time and I kind of thought: “If there’s a Rampage to miss, it’s this one…”
“If I do the project, then I got to do the rally.”
Beyond the bike, there was also the consideration that the loss of STPR as an ARA round (which ran as a Regional round in September) meant Semenuk would be out of the WRX for a while.
He added: “I’d have been out of the car from August all the way until February, depending on what next year looks like.
“It sucks to say no to Rampage, but I got to do the project – which was a success and I’m happy I did it – and now we’re present here at LSPR and we get the chance to wrap up the year on a high. And I get the seat time.”
It’s a win-win. Just like last year.