Rally America Round 7: Ojibwe Forest Rally


Higgins and Drew fly through Saturday's special stage on the streets of downtown Detroit Lakes.

The rally didn’t begin until the afternoon on Friday, so night had completely descended for the second half of the day’s stages. Many drivers say that they actually enjoy the night stages as they are able to focus more clearly on what is directly in front of them. In this case, the dusty roads made it as though they were driving through the fog at night, which made it exceptionally difficult to see where they headed. Higgins was able to claw back an impressive amount of time over the three night stages. The flawless teamwork of Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew saw them go from a fifty second setback to a fifteen second lead over Pastrana in a short amount of time.


Lauchlin O'Sullivan and Scott Putnam secured the points they needed to win the Super Production championship.

Super Production was led by Nick Roberts throughout Friday, posting up consistent times without any failures or accidents to slow him down.  He and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino would finish the day in fourth place overall in a ’13 Impreza STi, but were bumped up to third place in light of Yeoman’s retirement.  Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam of CPD Racing needed to simply finish on the Super Production podium in order to secure the points they need to win the class championship.  Although they were confident in their driving, something was causing their ’09 Impreza STi to intermittently sputter and be down on power.  They would finish the day in fifth place overall and second in class behind Roberts.


Although Troy Miller secured the points he needed to win the 2WD championship, he would be plagued by issues with the wheel scrapers on his Fiesta R2.

When Troy Miller started stage one he secured the points he needed to claim the 2WD championship title, the goal after that was to simply finish the rally without catastrophe.  Showing a great pace initially, he would have to retire early on Friday after suffering significant wheel damage.  Confident that the crew would be able to get the car repaired in time, he elected to re-enter competition on Saturday under the super rally penalty.  Cameron Steely would finish Friday in first place for 2WD with a ’14 Fiesta ST, his clean driving resulting in some really great stage times that were not far off the pace of Piotr Fetela’s Open class ’98 Impreza STi. Brakim Racing’s Matt Brandenburg and co-driver Elliot Sherwood would retire after a fuel issue on their ’94 BMW M3 caused the engine to burst into flames on the second stage.  It sounds as though they will be able to have the BMW repaired and will be ready for next month’s rally in Michigan.


David Nickel and Darren Garrod kick up some sand in their eye catching Open class '08 Impreza WRX.

Friday’s Regional rally is known as Paul Bunyan’s Ride, named after the state forest within which it takes place.  David Nickel would take the overall victory with an Open class ’08 Impreza WRX.  Hot on his heels was the duo of Justin Pritchard and co-driver Rachelle Kaltak, finishing the day only four seconds off Nickel’s pace, and did so in an Open Light ’98 Impreza RS!  This goes to show that you don’t need to have a turbo in order to be fast in rally.  Third place was picked up by Brandon Semenuk in an Open class ’08 Impreza WRX.


Travis Pastrana and co-driver Chrissie Beavis keep a quick pace behind teammates David Higgins and Craig Drew.

The weather on Saturday was a repeat of the previous day, with warm temperatures coupled with dry and dusty dirt roads.  With Open class competition thinned out from Friday’s attrition there weren’t too many upsets throughout the second day.  In fact, Higgins held first, Pastrana second, and Fetela third in class for the whole day.  On stage nine Pastrana had a puncture which gave up an extra three and a half minutes of breathing room to Higgins.  Later in the day, the #75 Subaru of Higgins suffered a broken front axle but managed to limp it back to service where the Subaru mechanics made short work of the repairs.  Higgins took the win with a final time of 2:10:33.9, about three and a half minutes ahead of Pastrana and seventeen minutes ahead of Fetela.

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