The Ojibwe Forests Rally returns to the Rally America National Championship on 23 – 24 August after running as a regional rally event the last three years. This edition of the Ojibwe Forests Rally is round six of the championship and is now headquartered in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
With a new location and a return to national event status many national teams will race the iconic fast and flowing stage roads for the first time, which adds another level of complexity for drivers who are running out of chances to win a Championship title. Two championship rounds remain and the pressure is getting more intense.
Subaru Rally Team USA’s David Higgins and Craig Drew currently lead the Rally America National Championship standings. They need just one more overall win to lock up their third consecutive Rally America title. However, the Subaru team missed the last two chances to do so when they lost first place overall to Hoonigan Racing Division’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally and the New England Forest Rally.
Block and Gelsomino are in the midst of a furious season comeback. They absolutely need to win the last two Rally America rounds to overcome Subaru Rally Team USA and snatch the Rally America title.
Both teams are looking over their shoulders as other top national teams are in the mix to win the Ojibwe Forests Rally and add to their point totals. Notably, Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard are expected to enter with a turbo-charged, all-wheel-drive Tiburon. L’Estage and Richard were locked in a third place battle in New England until they completely lost a wheel on the second day and a chance to win their fourth consecutive New England Forest Rally.
Indonesia’s Rifat Sungkar, a popular driver in his country, has now landed on the overall podium in two of his three events this year, and has been getting faster as he gets more comfortable with his Mitsubishi Evolution X. He is certainly a contender that is hungry for his first American stage rally victory and appears to be ready to do so at any time.
Super Production’s (SP) David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski have been walking away with the SP title having won the previous three rounds. The team needs one more class victory to lock up their first Super Production title. But, Rally America’s youngest driver, Mason Moyle with veteran co-driver John Hall, are also vying for their first SP title and need to win the last two rounds for any chance at victory. Moyle has already stood on the podium three times this year, but a SP Class win still eludes him.
Last year’s SP Class winners, Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam, are expected back after missing the last two rounds with a refreshed 2008 Subaru WRX STI. The team suffered a dramatic racing crash at the Oregon Trail Rally and spent the last few months piecing the car back together. Even though the team is out of title contention they are always a threat to win their class.
A big Two-Wheel Drive (2WD) category battle is heading into the final two Rally America rounds as current points leaders Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey, from the Scion Racing Rally xD team, attempt to hold off a hard-charging Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth in their Ford Fiesta R2. Comrie-Picard and Wimpey built an early points buffer, but Australians Reeves and Smyth have won each event they have entered since the season’s midpoint.
As Reeves and Smyth chip away at the Scion driver’s standings, Comrie-Picard needs to place second place or better at the next two rounds in order to secure their first 2WD title.
The rest of the 2WD standings could easily change as only a 16 point spread separates 2nd from 4th place. While second place Reeves is chasing Comrie-Picard, third place Chris Greenhouse with co-driver Peter Watt is set on preventing fourth place Ford Fiesta drivers, Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards, from overtaking their position.
Join the Ojibwe Forests Rally at the Parc Expose to meet drivers and take photos of the cars before the race begins on Friday, August 23rd at 3:30pm CDT on Washington Avenue, Detroit Lakes, MN, and on Saturday August 24th at 9:30am at the Buffalo River Race park in Glyndon, MN. Pick up a spectator guide and plan your viewing schedule, or you download the spectator guide for free at: http://bit.ly/18YSnxK
Event organizers promise more spectator opportunities. The event begins with a Subaru autograph session at the Muscatell Subaru dealership in Moorhead, MN at 3:30pm CDT on Wednesday, August 21st. A driver meet & greet session will follow at the Fargo, ND Holiday Inn beginning at 5:30pm CDT.
The Ojiwbe Forests Rally will feature two super special stages at the Buffalo River Race Park following Saturday’s Parc Expose beginning at 10:00am. Fans can watch an entire competition stage from start to finish from one location. Admission is $5 per ticket.
Rally America is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Ford Racing, VP Racing Fuels, Honda Development Research, GrimmSpeed, Exedy Racing Clutches and Teleblend.
Photos: Neil McDaid.