The 2020 American Rally Association season-opening Sno*Drift Rally came to an end on Saturday night with Barry McKenna maintaining his lead for a comfortable National Class win.
After a frigid two days, 17 stages, and 116 miles of snow, rain, ice, and slush, the teams made their final passes through the challenging stages and made their way to the awards ceremony having concluded with the famous Bonfire Alley.
McKenna continued to run away from the rest of the pack in his Ford Fiesta R5 through the evening stages, building on the massive lead he had been working on ever since the start of the rally.
“Feelin’ good, glad to get [the win]. A tricky rally, just struggled to get through it,” McKenna told DirtFish.
Beating out second place finisher Piotr Fetela and his Ford Fiesta Proto by almost six minutes, McKenna had a huge cushion to play with during the final stages but proved he didn’t need it.
“Having a bit of a lead in this rally, there’s no harm in it,” said McKenna. “If you get stuck in a snowbank, it’ll take some time to get out.”
McKenna is already looking ahead and hoping to carry his momentum from the Sno*Drift victory into future events as well.
“If we have a clean run in Mexico we should be in good fighting shape for the 100 Acre Wood,” said McKenna.
Fetela managed hold on to second place throughout the weekend. Although not the winner, Fetela was pleased with his final result.
“We want to be first, that’s normal, but even in second place, I’m so happy,” Fetela told DirtFish.
Kamil Heller, Fetela’s new co-driver, was also happy with the weekend, saying the two of them had of fun and gained important new experience.
Zachary Jacques and his 2015 Subaru WRX finished third in the National Class this weekend. This was Jacques’s first time at the Sno*Drift Rally, and he had only driven a handful of other events beforehand.
Jacques and his father/co-driver, Ronald, were excited for their podium finish and are also planning on making it out to the 100 Acre Wood Rally with the other two podium finishers in March.
Rounding out the top five for the National Class were John Coyne and Frank Cunningham.
Both drivers were relatively close to Jacques with under two minutes separating the three. Blake Lind barely sat outside the top five in the class, only four tenths of a second off Cunningham’s time.
Despite not sharing the same podium, a few Regional Class drivers were running times that would compete with the top five National Class results.
Jimmy Pelizzari won the Regional Class in his 2001 Subaru Impreza 2.5 RS, completing the rally in just under two hours. If he had been running in the National Class, Pelizzari would be in third place behind Fetela.
Pelizzari was almost unable hold on to the win, getting stuck in a snow bank during the 10th stage and having to be pulled out by competitor Zach Whitebread in his 2003 WRX.
Even though this lost him time, Pelizzari gained back over a minute lead over second place in the Regional Class.
Jon Kramer finished second in the Regional Class. Through the whole rally Kramer claimed he didn’t want to know what position he was in so it would not affect his driving, but now that the competition was over, he was glad to hear it, and even more glad for the driver who outpaced him.
“I’m psyched for Jimmy because he just was flying,” Kramer told DirtFish. “No regrets, I think we had a good run.”
Overall, the Sno*Drift served as a challenging 2020 season opener for the ARA. The dreadful combination of snow, ice, and slush on the roads mixed with the unpredictably changing weather ensured difficulty for the drivers, and required large amounts of perseverance.
Top Five National
1 McKenna (Ford)
2 Fetela (Ford) +5m42.7s
3 Jacques (Subaru) +16m09.0s
4 Coyne (Ford) +16m28.2s
5 Cunningham (Ford) +17m50.5s
Top Five Regional
1 Pelizzari (Subaru)
2 Kramer (Subaru) +1m14.3s
3 Draganov (Subaru) +7m46.0s
4 Pullen (Subaru) +9m03.9s
5 Locher (Subaru) +10m33.7s
Top Five Combined
1 McKenna (Ford)
2 Fetela (Ford) +5m42.7s
3 Pelizzari (Subaru) +16m08.2s
4 Jacques (Subaru) +16m09.0s
5 Coyne (Ford) +16m28.2s