A close battle at the front, massive accidents, and wide-spread attrition made the 2016 Rally in the 100 Acre Wood one to remember.
It feels like someone snuck “Do a Barrel Roll (Press Z or R twice)” into the Jemba notes this year. A Red Cross came out twice this weekend, delaying stages, and even more drivers had offs, rolls, and skids. Thankfully, nobody was seriously injured in any of these instances.
A side effect of the delays, stages traditionally run in the dark that we feared gone, thanks to daylight savings, were now going to be run well after sunset. Additionally, as the darkness came so did rain showers that slickened the surface. It would turn out to be just enough moisture to reduce the dust going into the final day. The conditions helped create one of the closest, fastest, and most interesting rallies in a very long time.
Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom emerged the victors from a two day battle of mere seconds with Subaru Rally Team USA teammates David Higgins and Craig Drew. The duel between the Rally America champions went all the way to the final stage with neither driver attaining more than a 12.2 second lead. The win is Pastrana’s first at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and represents the end of a two-year, 14 win streak for Higgins. “It’s the fastest we’ve ever driven,” said Pastrana,“We drove the absolute piss out of it.”
National Limited Open Class was hit hard by the attrition of the 100AW. Fan favorites Nick Roberts and Alex Gelsomino in the Technicolor/Mondrian inspired Subaru suffered an engine failure on Saturday, knocking them out. But it was Peter Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak who experienced the most dramatic event of the rally. A bad landing at the cattle guard jump caused their Subaru to roll nearly a dozen times. We’re glad to say that both drivers escaped with only minor injuries.
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Super Production is the only class that saw all major entrants finish. Returning champions Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam had a banner rally. They drove fast, steady, and clean to finish first in SP and third overall. Under a minute behind them were Jeff Seehorn and John Dillon with a standout performance that saw Seehorn earn his first ever Rally America National podium, which is even more impressive considering this is his first time competing at 100AW. But the real battle in SP was for the final spot on the podium. After suffering from a brake failure, Troy Miller pushed hard throughout Saturday, taking the position from Tino Fortunato to finish third in class.
The 2WD class was, by far, hit the hardest by the forces of this rally. The class was won by a newcomer named Dave Wallingford. Just behind him was the Team O’Neil father-daughter team of Steve and Alison LaRoza, who lead the class through Friday but suffered from ignition issues late on Saturday. Rounding out the podium was the Honda team of Jordan Guitar and William Jang, who also finished first in B-Spec, after a hard-fought battle with the Honda Star Car of RealTime Acura’s Peter Cunningham and Ryan Eversley.
Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn spent the weekend fighting electrical problems, fault codes, and blown fuses, ultimately struggling to fifth in class. Ryan Millen fought mechanical issues throughout Friday, attempted to Super Rally, but then was forced to retire early on the second day. Matt Brandenburg suffered from a differential failure early on Friday and could not restart the following morning.
In the rest of B-Spec, Keanna Erickson-Chang and Ole Holter kept a steady pace to take second in class. After a dramatic off Jean-Pierre Rasaiah and Matthew Hoffman managed to recover and finished third. Peter Cunningham and Ryan Eversley had a phenomenal drive in the Honda Star Car, standing as high as second in all of 2WD before a mechanical failure forced an off and their retirement. But don’t worry, they loved their time out in the woods.
Overall, 63 teams started the rally and only 36 finished. We think that exemplifies just how difficult the stage conditions were this weekend. We’ll go more in depth on what happened in each class in a later series of articles.
For more photos and event info from the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, you can also check out the new Facebook fan page North American Rally Updates or search the hashtag #100aw on Twitter.
Rally America next goes west for the third round at the Oregon Trail Rally, held April 22-24th.