Why Semenuk’s looking forward to his vacation

Subaru’s Canadian star is heading south for a holiday with a difference on this week's Otago Rally


Brandon Semenuk blows his cheeks. He’s the guy who will happily ride a bike off a cliff, but Sunday’s Otago Rally finale might have him spooked. Kuri Bush. Gets them every time.

Honestly, when there are wheels involved, nothing really spooks the two-time American champion. He’s just stoked to be driving a rally car in New Zealand.

“I’ve driven some of these roads in a rental [car],” said the Subaru Motorsports USA star, “they’re just iconic. This is a rally vacation for me.”

There’s a slight pause. Semenuk’s a perfectionist. He’s all about the preparation and you get the sense that, yes, this week’s Otago Rally is a holiday… but even holidays have to be prepared for. It’s what he does. He and co-driver Keaton Williams work a recce as hard as any crew in the world championship. For Semenuk, the process is the same whether he’s delivering on a dig to land a fourth Red Bull Rampage win or extending his ARA domination aboard the stunning blue and yellow WRX.

“I’ve been digging into the event a little bit more,” Semenuk told DirtFish in Missouri last month. “There are no repeat stages, there’s quite a lot of mileage and there are some things which are pretty different to ARA – for example it’s a convoy recce which means we might only recce some stages once. It could be tough to get good notes.”

Realizing he might be making it sound a bit like work, he gets back on the vacation theme.


Having dominated the ARA of late, Semenuk is keen to see how he fares down under

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he added. “It’ll be fun to drive the other side of the car [right-hand drive] and try to race some of the locals. I hope we’re competitive in our class, the [H6] Subaru looks like a fun package and that’s what it’s about for us.

“It’ll be good to meet some of the locals, there’s a strong rally culture which is good and to meet Kris [Meeke]. I’ve watched him for a lot of years and really enjoyed his full attack style of driving. He does a bit of mountain biking as well, but Kris in an Escort is going to be cool.

“But Kuri Bush… that’s a hell of a stage, eh?”

Certainly is. It’s 10 miles of pure New Zealand.

Words:David Evans