by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter

Images via Jason Swoboda

Colorado natives Dave and Mike Brown have had an impressive 2018 Rally America National Championship season, taking their second overall win at Sno*Drift in January and leading the overall standings for much of the year. But their second place overall finish in Friday and Saturday’s Lake Superior Performance Rally meant they can add the title of Open Light class champions to their already impressive resumes.

“The Open Light championship has been amazing!” Dave Brown said after the event. “The class brings out large numbers of very talented grassroots teams from all over the country and I've really enjoyed meeting and racing with all of them. I think OL cars are so popular because they're relatively inexpensive, but they're still highly capable, which allows us to give the big teams a run for their money. I know any time I can even get close to any of the top teams it feels pretty amazing!”

With top class rivals Nathan Usher and Marianna Langosch of Sneak Attack Rally stepping up to Super Production, Brown/Brown only needed a respectable performance to mathematically clinch the title. But they didn’t play it too safe: were at least second overall after every checkpoint, and after Saturday snowfall essentially randomized the running order in the morning, they actually led the event overall after the first pass at Menge Creek.

When all was said and done, Brown/Brown would finish the event with a total time of 2:18:32.2. That time was just 19.9 seconds out of the overall lead to Open class competitors Joseph Burke and Karen Jankowski, but still more than four minutes clear of second in class. Arek Bialobrzeski and Aris Mantopulous took the runner-up spot, followed by Blind Deer Rallysport’s Jimmy Pelizzari and Kate Stevens in third in class and eighth overall.

In addition, two Open Light crews took stage victories during the event. Art in Motion Rally Team’s Geoff Weide and Derric Throne were the first stage winners on Saturday, topping the charts in the first pass at Arvon-Silver as the entire field struggled to adapt to the wintry conditions. Two stages later, Pelizzari/Stevens took the stage victory on the first pass at Menge Creek.

While the Open Light field always attracts a deep entry list, only seven of the 14 entries to start the rally were officially scored as finishers. A number of competitors were disqualified after the conclusion of the event for exceeding Maximum Permitted Lateness boundaries due to skipping a mandatory passage control before the Lakeshore Drive street stage.

Open Light class finishers in this year’s Lake Superior Performance Rally were as follows:

  1. Dave Brown/Mike Brown, 2:18:32.2 (2nd overall)
  2. Arek Bialobrzeski/Aris Mantopoulos, 2:22:56.2 (6th overall)
  3. Jimmy Pelizzari/Kate Stevens, 2:24:13.3 (8th overall)
  4. Geoff Weide/Derric Throne, 2:29:42.0 (12th overall)
  5. Michael Miller/Angelica Miller, 2:37:46.7 (22nd overall)
  6. Tyler Matalas/Paul Brauner, 2:42:42.3 (23rd overall)
  7. Jeff Hueser/Dylan Stevens, 2:57:12.4 (31st overall)