Semenuk wins as McKenna grabs ARA National title

It was first successes for both drivers at the end of Show-Me Rally


Barry McKenna is provisionally the new American Rally Association National champion despite losing the Show-Me Rally to Subaru Motorsports USA driver Brandon Semenuk, who took his first ever series victory.

Thanks to victories on both the Sno*Drift and Southern Ohio Forest Rallies, plus second place on the Ojibwe Forests Rally, McKenna headed to Missouri and the Show-Me Rally in prime position to clinch his first ever US rally title.

With both Subaru drivers Semenuk and Travis Pastrana missing the opening round and Pastrana’s Impreza STI burning to the ground in Ohio, McKenna only needed a top four finish on Show-Me to put the title race to bed.

But he still came out swinging on Friday’s three stages, switching from the Škoda Fabia Rally2 he has used since lockdown to the Ford Fiesta WRC which is better suited to the high-speed stages. Pastrana – who won in Ojibwe – would make the brightest start though, edging into an early 1.7s lead.

Semenuk would jump from third to first on the following test however with an incredibly strong time, indicative of his growing confidence and speed in recent rallies. Pastrana “blew it” in his words on Friday’s final test as he drifted off line and damaged the passenger side of his Subaru, picking up two punctures in the process and thus set up a tasty battle between Semenuk and McKenna.

McKenna led after Friday, but only by 0.9s, and stretched the gap out across Saturday’s first loop to 7.7s; only for a rear driveshaft to break on his Ford and bring Semenuk back to within 2s.


Semenuk then inherited the rally lead as McKenna checked out of final service before SS8 four minutes late and earned a 40s time penalty after changing the transmission on his Fiesta. Despite setting the fastest time, he was now 34.4s behind in second.

But Semenuk was fully deserving of his lead and punched in the fastest time on SS9 to prove the point. He dropped 0.9s to McKenna on SS10 but ultimately it was irrelevant as he rode out the pressure to score a 34s victory – his first for Subaru Motorsports USA.

Pastrana wound up 1m06s down on his team-mate and 31.9s back from McKenna.

“First win with Subaru Motorsports USA and also first ARA [National] win so I mean I’m stoked, I wasn’t expecting this at all this year joining the team,” Semenuk told DirtFish.

“The car was fantastic this weekend, literally it’s the best it’s felt. Zero issues other than we hit a rock in the racing line and bent the sump guard but it was awesome. Coming over a crest I didn’t see it and it kind of pushed stuff around but it was fine for the next stage, we got it back and the boys just cleaned it up and got it ready for this leg.”

McKenna was penalized for a turbocharger breach and dropped from second to fourth after the event but that was still enough for him to become the new champion.

Speaking before the penalty, McKenna said to DirtFish: “We ended up being just slightly late out of service but we’ve managed to wrap up second overall which should leave us winners of the championship.


“That’s not so bad! It was good racing, it was great fun, there was nothing in it between Brandon and Travis and me, we were swapping seconds these past two days.

“Because Leon [Jordan, co-driver] wasn’t at the first round I still need a good finish on Olympus [Rally] for him to get the co-driving championship. [I’ll] definitely use the Fiesta [there], the car was just unreal, so fast. It just took me a while to get back into the swing of things but it was so fast and good.”

Behind the lead trio at the front completed by Pastrana, Irishman Patrick Brennan scored a solid fourth place in his Ford Fiesta Proto, aided by Jeff Seehorn’s retirement on Saturday’s second stage. It wasn’t guaranteed until the final stage though, with Paul Rowley’s Ford Fiesta R5 finishing close behind.

Zachary Jacques was sixth in his Subaru WRX ahead of 2WD winner Cameron Steely. Seamus Burke had been on course for class honors before a total electrical shutdown aboard his Mustang-engined Ford Escort Mk2 cost him dear. Ryan Booth was another expected to feature but had a disastrous weekend; first losing 26 minutes on SS1 and then retiring for good on Saturday.

Chris O’Driscoll (Subaru STI), Robert Sanders (Subaru WRX STI) and ARA East rally winner Zachary Whitebread (Subaru WRX) rounded out the top 10 places.

Final results after SS10

1 Semenuk (Subaru) 52m38.7s
2 McKenna (Ford) +34.0s
3 Pastrana (Subaru) +1m06.0s
4 Brennan (Ford) +8m33.6s
5 Rowley (Ford) +9m01.6s
6 Jacques (Subaru) +9m52.8s
7 Steely (Ford) +10m24.5s
8 O’Driscoll (Subaru) +10m34.0s
9 Sanders (Subaru) +10m38.3s
10 Whitebread (Subaru) +10m58.4s