Last week’s regional overall win for Paul Ferreira and Ozgur Simsek of Ferreira Rally at the 2020 Southern Ohio Forest Rally was bittersweet. It might not have been their greatest performance, but considering what they were coming back from, it was still a big achievement.
The Southern Ohio Forest Rally had a lot of attrition, and most of it was the same we see at every rally. New car builds with technical problems for instance, or a small off breaking a component and there is no spare. It’s rally, and these things happen. What was different this year though was the amount of retirements due to illness, specifically heat exhaustion, that affected drivers and co-drivers alike.
Rally is back! After months without rally due to the Covid pandemic, the American Rally Association Southern Ohio Forest Rally was the first national event since Sno*Drift way back in January. Well we’ve talked about the National competition over in part 1, so let’s jump right into the Regional competition which featured a healthy field of 29 entries.
Hello and welcome back! It’s been awhile and we’ve missed you all. Rally is back and what a welcome back it was at the American Rally Association Southern Ohio Forest Rally. Initially set to run in early June, the event was postponed until this last weekend, the middle of July, right as the heat and humidity of the midwestern summer hit its peak. With the high temperatures in mind a decision was made to not start the event until dark was setting in and run it well into the early hours of the morning, harkening back to the older days of rally. Running the event in the middle of the night also helped to enforce that no spectators were allowed in order to comply with social distancing regulations put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was going to be a test of both human and machine on the extra long stages through the forests of Ohio in the sweltering darkness. To add to the challenge, a rain storm popped up just as the event was about to start, greatly cutting down the amount of dust, but making the twisty roads slippery and treacherous.
Alex and Rhianon Gelsomino are arguably the most experienced co-driver couple in the world. They both have competed in rallies all over the globe, with over 50 WRC and more than 450 total rally events between them. They have competed alongside a host of great drivers over the years, including Ken Block, Brendan Reeves (who is also Rhianon’s brother), Ryan Millen, Will Hudson, Gus Greensmith, Bucky Lasek, Nick Roberts and many many others. A few years ago they started OZ Rally Pro offering rally training to drivers and co-drivers and just recently began offering online training. They also recently joined the Open Paddock Rally Podcast for a fun chat, make sure to check that as well.
This spot was supposed to be reserved for a recap of the 2020 American Rally Association Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, but with the coronavirus, COVID-19, running rampant through our communities, events are being cancelled all over the globe, including this one. The news came just a week before the event was to take place, at a time that the NBA, NHL, WRC, NASCAR, and even Formula 1 were also cancelling and postponing events. While it’s definitely disappointing, it’s the right call, the socially responsible call and hopefully this will all blow over soon. In the meantime, let’s take the opportunity to look back on the last ten years. 100 Acre Wood was my first rally experience and one I’ve attended every year since, so it holds a special place for me, filled with many memories.
Craig Drew is the reigning American Rally Association champion and one of the most successful co-drivers in U.S. rally history. Sitting alongside David Higgins for Subaru Motorsports USA, he has captured eight championships and many rally wins, including an unprecedented fourteen consecutive wins and a perfect season in 2015. Craig has recently launched a series of online co-driver training courses on his website craigdrew.com.
Once again, the American Rally Association National Championship season begins on the snow and ice covered roads around Atlanta, MI at the appropriately named Sno*Drift Rally. Last year the temperatures dipped well below zero, adding another element to the challenge of the event. Conversely this year, nature decided to show some compassion and provided much milder weather, with temperatures even rising above the freezing point for much of Saturday. However, snow was still on the menu as the first stages got underway Friday night.