2016 RallySprint Season Opener – Recap
If you were at the inaugural NW Rally Association event at the end of 2015, you would have discovered that the fans around here have some serious heart. They braved horrendous conditions – sideways rain and frigid temperatures – to catch the action and take part in the new series.
Thankfully, the 2016 season opener at DirtFish Rally School in early April offered a sweet reward to the RallySprint faithful with sunny skies, warm temperatures and an exciting day of racing. The mixed surfaces kept the drivers on their toes, starting out concrete, transitioning to gravel and back to concrete throughout the course. As always, the crew at DirtFish made sure the terrain was well groomed and watered as the day went on, keeping conditions very consistent.
The class to watch was 2WD Under, with a couple of unknown competitors making the trek down from Canada who proved to bring some serious competition. Taking first in class, Canadian Tyler Hendricks had to overcome some early troubles with his skid plate getting knocked loose. He hustled to fix the issue and jumped from 3rd place in the morning session to finish off the day victorious.
Jason Bailey, thanks to his wild driving style, raced most of the day with a half detached bumper. It clearly did not slow him down as his times got progressively faster throughout the event, finishing only 16 seconds behind the leader (total time, all day). Third place went to Seattle local Chris Kobayashi who consistently ticked off faster times as the day progressed.
AWD Over class brought out some great competition – from a former Group N Car to a GC8 Pro-Drive prepared car and a mostly stock 2016 STI. Despite usually racing a RWD car, James Rimmer stepped into the GC8 and was consistently fast for each run. Lead DirtFish Instructor, Nate Tennis, was a topic of conversation as soon as he left the start line with his dramatic slides, aggressive style and fast times.
Bringing the heart to rally, as always, were Judd and Kathy Hardy. Despite being the only competitors in the 2WD Over class, they were laying down some great times in the morning session. When their car died on course, co-driver Kathy wasted no time giving a push and getting things going again.
Sean Reuland came out fast and competitive in the AWD Under class, taking first place. He will clearly be a force to contend with in the future. Co-driven by superstar DirtFish instructor Michelle Miller, Tony Torchia had a great day racing his 2003 Subaru for the first time.
Proving to be a great shakedown race for the upcoming Stage Rally season, this event gave competitors plenty of seat time and course variations. Race Director Kito Brielmaier attributes the smoothness and efficiency of the event to the crew of volunteers that made the day come together (and maybe a few late nights). Check out the event calendar for more races coming throughout the year!
All photos copyright Greggar Helgeland Productions