Five rounds into the 2019 American Rally Association, presented by AMSOIL series; five different winners.
Nestled deep in the Sawtooth Mountain range less than an hour outside of Boise, the Idaho Rally International was a showcase for the technical aspect of rallying. Twists and turns, tight roads and quick hairpins littered the scheduled 123-stage miles for the two-day event. Winning would require drivers to be fast, but also clean and steady, which is exactly how it played out for Seehorn Racing’s Jeff Seehorn and Cody Crawford.
Seehorn, who won the Overall and the Limited 4WD class, was textbook in his approach to the weekend. He ran consistently fast times on Saturday and was the beneficiary of mistakes and mechanical issues that plagued the top Subaru Motorsports USA teams of David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew, and Oliver Solberg and co-driver Denis Giraudet. At the end of day one, Seehorn and Crawford were atop the leaderboard, more than 53-seconds ahead of Higgins and Drew.
“We were just going out and playing it safe,” said Seehorn after day one was completed. “we would only be pushing when we need to but stay on the road.”
Six stages awaited the field on Sunday, and the consensus was that Higgins and Drew were going to push hard and would significantly cut into Seehorn’s lead on the Meadow Creek stage. After three stages were completed on Sunday, what was once a 53-second lead for Seehorn and Crawford, was now a 32-second lead for Higgins and Drew. Over the next two stages, runs up Spanish Fork and a shortened Grimes Pass, Higgins and Drew increased that lead up to 1:47, and needed one final run to lock up back-to-back wins.
The last stage of the day, however, would tell the story for the weekend. Higgins and Drew were pushing hard across the twisty Meadow Creek road, but with about two miles left to the finish, Higgins was uncharacteristically caught off-guard while trying to change a map, pushing him off the stage road. They were able to get back on-stage, but by the time they dug out, more than 20 minutes were lost, more than enough time for Seehorn to push on to a mistake-free win, the first national overall win of his career.
“We are just stoked, to keep it clean, to not have any mechanical issues,” said Seehorn after the podium celebration. “I spent hours prepping this car myself and it’s just amazing to come out with the overall. In my six years of doing this, this is an amazing weekend.”
With the weekend-long struggles for both Higgins and Solberg, the podium would be without at least one of the Subaru Motorsports USA teams for the first time this season at events they’ve competed. Instead, a great battle developed for second place between the Ken Stanick and co-driver Shayne Peterson and Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn.
Competing in the Limited 4WD class, Steely and Osborn held a 13-second lead for third overall entering Sunday. Stanick and Peterson were able to flip the switch on Sunday’s first stage, and despite keeping it close, Steely and Osborn were never able to close the gap on their Open 4WD counterpart, finishing third overall.
Blake and Tricia Lind finished the Idaho Rally fourth overall and won the National NA4WD class. Flynn Baglin and Co-driver Alix Hakala rounded out the top five while finishing third in L4WD behind Seehorn and Steely.
Chris and Michelle Miller finished sixth overall, and took home the National Open 2WD class win, besting Brad Morris and Doug Nagy by 45-seconds. In Limited 2WD, Robert Sanders and Mickey Mettetal won with a total time of 3:17:11.
The stages in Idaho proved positive for the Side-by-Side contenders. Carl Marcum and Phouvanh Sichulailuck actually timed in third fastest for the rally. Their overall time of 2:32:59 was just 27-seconds ahead of Stephane Verdier and Co-driver Erica Sacks.
In all, 29 cars started the ARA West Championship Idaho Regional Rally, and only 15 cars finished. At the top were Dave and Mike Brown who pushed their 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS to the overall and NA4WD win. Matt Brassfield and Co-driver Kristi Berg finished second overall while winning the L4WD division. Ryan Booth and Co-driver Alison Laroza finished third in the regional rally and won the L2WD class. Jeff Gamroth and Jason Baird rallied to a fourth overall finish in their 1989 Porsche 964 and won the O2WD. Rounding out the top five, as well as winning the O4WD class was Ryan Bouffioux and co-driver Steven Winnat.
Full results of the Idaho Rally International can be found on the ARA website, or on the ARA Mobile App.
Round six of the American Rally Association, presented by AMSOIL national schedule will shift back East with the scenic New England Forest Rally July 19-20. More than 120 competition miles will be held around the Newry, Maine and Errol, N.H. areas.