Fiestas Finish 2-3 At 100 Acre Wood Rally
* Ed McNelly and Ole Holter take their second consecutive podium at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood with second place finish in Team O'Neil Rally School Fiesta R2
* Tim O'Neil debuted in his first Rally America National Championship event this season with third place finish in Fiesta R2
* Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino were forced to retire after a mechanical issue sent the Hoonigan Racing Fiesta HFHV off on SS 10
SALEM, Mo. -- Rally America's second National Championship event, Rally in the 100 Acre Wood provided true rally racing for Fiesta with unpredictable conditions after a winter storm hit Missouri packing snow and ice on the stage roads.
With a second place finish in Rally America's two-wheel drive class Ed McNelly and Ole Holter leave Rally in the 100 Acre Wood event 10th overall. McNelly and Holter moved up to second in the two-wheel drive class championship with a third in class finish in their Team O’Neil Rally School Fiesta R2 at Sno*Drift. McNelly and Holter completed each stage in the top three of their class and finished just under three minutes behind first in class, Andrew Comrie-Picard.
"Second place feels great,” said McNelly. “The roads here were just like Sno*Drift which I’m not always great driving on but we seemed to be consistent. The Fiesta is really a great car and it handled all of the elements out here like ice, snow and gravel. Overall I am happy to have ended a second race on podium and look forward to the rest of the national championship.”
Fiesta tallied a second two-wheel drive podium appearance with Tim O'Neil and Terry Hanson finishing third in class and 13 overall. The Team O'Neil Rally School owner, who ran seven of the nine Fiestas at the event, has taught a majority of the drivers he competed against in his first start in the 2013 Rally America season including McNelly and Comrie-Picard. O’Neil and Hanson made up valuable time on SS 11 and SS 12 when they switched from ice tires to gravel tires and moved from fifth in class to third.
"It was great getting back in the Fiesta to race,” said O’Neil. “A lot of the drivers I’ve trained were out there competing and I have a lot of work to do in order to beat them. The roads at 100 Acre Wood the best out there and knowing seat time is very important, I think we had a pretty decent run in the Fiesta. Finishing this race on podium really makes me race again.”
Six-time Rally in the 100 Acre Wood champions Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino were forced to retire early from the Rally America event with a mechanical DNF. Block and Gelsomino started the event first on stage and after SS 4 on day 1 had an 18 second lead on the competition. Unfortunately on SS 6 the Hoonigan Racing Division came over a blind crest into an icy turn and went off forcing their Fiesta HFHV to miss the final stage of the day. Block and Gelsomino started day 2 with a 5-minute penalty from missing the last stage from the previous day and 3-minute gain from the damage on the stage which set them nearly seven minutes behind Subaru's David Higgins. Bad luck struck the team again on SS 10 when their throttle failed and ended their weekend.
“My rally here at the 100 Acre Wood is now finished and unfortunately I am not at the actual finish,” said Block. “It’s been a really tough rally for me this year. I had six very good years, won six times in a row that I’ve been here and this was my try for seventh.
"It was just a basic small electronic issue that we couldn’t solve so unfortunately we had to DNF which is terribly disappointing,” said Block. “We knew starting today that we couldn’t win but I knew that I could at least come back and get some points and now because of a very simple cheap part I’m leaving here with a DNF.
“Tough start to the season with Sno*Drift being a sixth place finish because of another electrical issue with the alternator and now this,” Block added “it’s a pretty devastating way to start the season.”
After a two-wheel drive second place finish at Sno*Drift Rally, Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards the Fiesta team went head-to-head with Comrie-Picard holding first in class for the first three stages on day 1 of Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. The Fiesta team fell just behind the Scion team and in an attempt to make up time pushed their speed which sent them off on SS 11. Unfortunately Van Way hit a stump on the off which damaged the lower ball joint and forced the team out of the competition.
“There’s no two ways about it, I had a crash during a great battle with ACP,” said Van Way. “The fight was ACP was fun but whenever we are both pushing that hard, it’s always a risk. ACP had an off which damaged his rear-end and then I went off after taking a corner wide which unfortunately put my Fiesta on a stump and had to be towed away on a flat bed. Everyone drives the same roads and I was the only one who went off where I did so it’s just a matter of reading the road and determining where you can take a risk. If we weren’t pushing so hard I may have been able to pull back but a risk I took.”
Rally America will be back in action at Oregon Trail Rally the third Nation Championship event on May 3 in Portland, Ore.