North America is such a geographically diverse continent where you can find many similar places from all over the world. This feature is also reflected in the rally. The U.S. Rally Championship has enough rallies that are strongly reminiscent of the WRC Championship. In the winter, the WRC takes place in Sweden, and a similar Sno * Drift rally takes place in the USA. The WRC Finland is very perfectly replicated by the Ojibwe Forest Rally roads and the same thousands of lakes around. And the style of autumn Wales is best reflected during the Olympus Rally.
Olympus and WRC Wales
But due to the pandemic, the Olympus rally moved to November, and the rain there, to put it mildly, there was more than enough rain. In fact, even the British there turned their noses at the amount of it, and the organizers even had to remove two sections from the rally route card due to rain and … snow. Of course, the weather conditions are not the only similarity. The race in the northwest corner of the U.S. reminds Wales of winding roads in extremely wooded areas and logging sites, the profile of the ground, and the road itself.
Looking further at the WRC Wales and the Olympus Rally, this year has brought the two even more equal. The Olympus rally usually took place in the spring, which was not always similar to the autumn weather in Britain.
But the Olympus Rally has another interface with the WRC. And very strong.
Olympus Rally in WRC
For three years, the Olympus Rally appeared on the World Rally Championship calendar during 1986-1988. And it came from a clear sky due to the battles of interest at the time between the FISA and F-1 teams with the European motoring clubs.
The most interesting of those three years was the first – 1986. The Olympus Rally was the last stage in which Group B cars started, as Group B has been replaced by Group A equipment since 1997, for reasons you are well aware of. The interesting thing is that initially none of the teams intended to send cars to the US, but the situation in the championship was extremely unclear, so J.Kankunen’s Peugeot 205 and M.Allen Lancia Delta S4 reached the mainland. After five and a half hours of fighting, the victory was snatched by M. Allen and he became the 1986 World Rally Champion in Washington.
Unfortunately, the joy lasted only 11 days, as in Paris the title of the champion was taken away from Mark and handed over to Juha Kankunen. This happened due to the cancellation of the results of the San Remo Rally, which led to a significant change in the standings. The whole 1986 season is worth a long article, so I won’t expand further.
After 1998, the WRC did not return to the United States. But it’s probably just a matter of time. After the WRC, the Olympus Rally title returned only 18 years later, although the U.S. Rally Championship was visited regularly in the Olympia area. Only the names differed until the old one came back in 2006.
USA rallying today
And what’s better these days? The US can be happy that their main championship took place. Although it was not easy. Looking at the calendar, 5 events were canceled and five managed to see the light of day. One of them – the New York Forest Rally was organized in 3 weeks. This season, the Škoda Fabia R5 and Ford Fiesta Proto posed a serious challenge to the Subaru USA team. So Fabia R5, driven by Irishman Barry McKenna, has already secured the title of a champion before the Olympus Rally. The Irishmen won three events and the other two victories were shared by Subaru team members Travis Pastrana and Canadian Brandon Semenuk.
To be fair, McKenna drove in one rally with the Ford Fiesta S2000 Turbo, which was the equivalent of the WRC at the time. Anyway, among Subaru’s total dominance in the US Championship, cars of international class like the R5 are starting to fill in. And among the two-axles – it’s especially interesting to see the Subaru BRZ or Lexus IS250 on the gravel. Add to that the second-generation VW Golf, Toyota RAV4 or Toyota Prius … There are really strange cars out there and that is wonderful.
Well, last weekend B.Mckenna showed who the king is this year. The Olympus rally was won by almost half a minute. The competition on the other hand was fierce and a really exciting fight awaits next year. B.Semenuk is getting used to Subaru and gets faster with each event. Only mistakes in this rally prevented him from taking first place. And T. Pastrana faced problems with the hermetic of the car because the visibility in the car cabin often deteriorated sharply while running after the endless water passages.
Anyway, the championship is definitely worth a look. And he, like the WRC, is best covered by the Dirtfish team.
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Photo – David Cosseboom