Shelton, Wash. – Subaru Motorsports USA took a third consecutive American Rally Association (ARA) double podium finish at a cold, rain-soaked Olympus Rally, ending the ARA season with two wins and seven total podiums in only four events. Brandon Semenuk’s runner-up finish at Olympus secured an impressive second place overall in the ARA Driver’s Championship in his first full season of American rally competition, while teammate and five-time U.S. champion Travis Pastrana took third in both the rally and the championship.
Olympus Rally, one of the most historic and difficult rounds on the U.S. calendar, provided a challenging end to a 2020 rally season heavily revised and shortened due to the COVID-19 crisis. Saturday’s eight stages were inundated with rain, rendering the stage roads muddy and slick and reducing visibility for all competitors. Semenuk and co-driver John Hall won a pair of the Saturday stages to put themselves in second place despite a half-spin on SS2. Pastrana and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino lost time due to a severely fogged windshield after their WRX STI took on water on SS5, dropping them to third behind their teammates and overnight leader Barry McKenna.
The weather would again play a major role on Sunday, as snow at high elevations hampered accessibility to two of the planned stages for the remainder of the event. Rally organizers elected to revise the day’s calendar to only include three passes of the signature Nahwatzel stage. Fully committed and seeking a come-from-behind victory, Semenuk blasted his way to a pair of stage wins but was ultimately unable to close the full gap to McKenna.
Semenuk’s second-place finish capped a remarkable season for the Subaru newcomer: four events, four podiums including an overall win at Show-Me Rally, and second place in the ARA Driver’s Championship. Pastrana, driving more conservatively on Sunday at Olympus to protect his podium place, also concluded his season on a strong note. After a devastating engine fire at Southern Ohio that virtually ended his championship hopes, he recovered with a dominant Ojibwe Forests Rally win and three total podium finishes in the season’s three final rounds.
“It’s hard to put into words what an experience this season has been,” said Semenuk after the rally. “I really feel like John and I have come such a long way since Southern Ohio where we were still learning the car and getting up to speed. Things really started to click these last few events! I know there are improvements I need to make, since I lost some time on a couple of the Saturday stages and could have had a chance to win the rally, but it’s been a huge thrill to race with Travis and this team all year. All I can think about is getting back in the car again soon!”
“Not the results we wanted this season, but I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to get back to rallying full-time this year!” said Pastrana. “It’s been a huge challenge for everyone to help us get back on the stages with the pandemic, and I appreciate everything the team and the organizers have done. Huge congratulations to Brandon for the success he’s had this year, I think he’s developed faster than anyone could have imagined, and I know this team has a lot to look forward to in 2021.”
About Subaru Motorsports USA
Subaru Motorsports USA is managed by Vermont SportsCar and proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., MOTUL, Yokohama Tires, Method Race Wheels, DirtFish Rally School, KÜHL and RECARO. Follow the team online at www.subaru.com/motorsports.