The unexpected Rally2 debut with a surprising outcome

Will Hudson got a taste of Rally2 machinery in Southern Ohio, and he didn't waste his chance


Rental cars. They’re usually a nightmare to deal with. But sometimes, you get a nice surprise. A free upgrade – like the time myself and my father were in Las Vegas and were bumped up to a brand new Camaro without paying a cent extra.

Will Hudson, though, scored the mother of rental upgrades for Southern Ohio Forest Rally, the latest round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship.

He turned up to Ohio expecting McKenna Motorsport to hand him the keys to a Ford Fiesta Rally3. Alas, none were available when he’d reached his destination.

The free upgrade? A Ford Fiesta Rally2, the one usually driven by Tom Williams.


After several years piloting smaller two-wheel-drive Fiestas in Canada, the US, and even the World Rally Championship’s Drive DMACK Cup support class, Ohio was supposed to be his first taste of big power and four-wheel drive.

That step was suddenly a lot bigger than he’d expected. Yet when finding himself with far more car than the R2 he’d been in for years prior, Hudson took to the stages and immediately started impressing.

After a sixth-place finish on the Yoctangee superspecial, Hudson immediately started banging in fourth-fastest times all day long on the first leg of forest stages.

Fourth may not sound like much on paper. But any faster would put him ahead of Ken Block’s detuned WRC car and the Subaru factory cars. Realistically, Hudson had already found himself in the top position anyone could be expected to hit in the same car: leading the RC2 class and beating out a good number of capable Open 4WD cars.

“It’s just managing [the gap] at this point,” Hudson told DirtFish at lunch on day three of the rally. “Not taking too many chances, even though there’s been a couple moments just getting used to the speed, Just trying to be as conservative as possible so I can get all the miles I need to learn more.”

A couple of moments is putting it lightly. Hudson did lose focus on one corner and found himself hitting a tree at low speed. Despite that moment, he held third and got right back on stage to keep it up.

With Semenuk retiring on the final loop, Hudson sealed his first-ever ARA National podium.

“It was great overall,” he said. “Today I kind of lost focus and that’s where my sticking point is these days. So I was just trying to work on that and just glazed over, you know, it only takes one moment to miss it.

“So I’m a little disappointed but I feel very very lucky, fortunate, and happy overall.

“It’s sort of a ‘gimme’ but we would have had fourth, so that’s awesome.”

His unexpected car upgrade has given Hudson a taste of one of the fastest rally cars you can run in the US. As tempting as it might be to have another go, he’s hesitant to start booking the higher-class hire car just yet.

“I want to go back to the Rally3 and see how that goes,” he told DirtFish, “because I think that’s a more proper kind of stepping stone.”


It’s a sensible approach. Perhaps experiencing the speed of a Rally2 and stepping back will be helpful in the long run.

“Or maybe I’ll just think that the Rally3 is boring!” Hudson replied.

Having seen just what Hudson has already done this year, it’s hard to believe anything he’s behind the wheel of could look boring, but only time will tell as to what the future of Hudson’s rally career looks like.

Maybe some more luck at the rental counter is in order.