by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Jason Swoboda

Eight stages down, seven to go! Lake Superior Performance Rally resumes this morning with a second day of action, kicking off with the first of two passes at Arvon-Silver and culminating this afternoon with the traditional Lakeshore Drive street stage. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, there’s snow on the ground! Here are some of the storylines to watch for as the day continues:

Burke Maintains Day One Lead

Joseph Burke/Karen Jankowski wrapped up the first day of action atop the overall leaderboard with a total time of 1:11:05.1. They finished just over two minutes ahead of Rally America National Championship points leaders Dave/Mike Brown, who lead the Open Light class.. Defending National Champions Arek Gruszka/Lukasz Wronski completed the top three heading into the second day of action.

Other class leaders going into day two include Michael Hooper/Claudia Barbera-Pullen (Group 5), Grzegorz Bugaj/Elizabeth Dziubanski (Super Production), Adam VanDamme/Jacob Carlson (Group 2), and Chris Sladek/John Sharps (B-spec). The Group 5 battle is particularly close, with Hooper/Barbera-Pullen just 23 seconds ahead of the legendary Seamus Burke/Martin Brady.

Fetela Presses On Regardless

Brake issues during Friday’s second loop knocked Piotr Fetela/Dominik Jozwiak out of second place in the overall standings, but the Fetela Rally Team was able to make it back to service and get the car prepared to take on the second passes at Teepee Tower and Far Point. The four-time 2018 Rally America event winners were able to win both of those stages, for a total of four on Friday, and will remain second on the road as of Saturday morning.

They’re far from the only team to face a bout of bad luck, though: a number of top competitors have faced issues in the event so far. O.D.D. Racing’s Cameron Steely/Preston Osborn were unable to start the rally due to ECU issues, while Samir/Rachelle Kaltak  and Zach Whitebread/Cameron Carr both suffered engine trouble. Sneak Attack Rally’s Nathan Usher/Marianna Langosch also dealt with trouble under the hood, but were able to complete the first day of action and return to the road 13th for Saturday’s stages.

Saturday Stage Preview

Arvon-Silver, Herman-Nestoria, and Menge Creek will each see two passes of Rally America vehicles today, while this afternoon’s Lakeshore Drive stage will wrap up the 2018 edition of LSPR. Each stage presents its own unique challenges, and the freezing weather and potential snow or ice will only serve to make them tougher.

“Arvon-Silver changes character whether raced uphill or downhill—this year is uphill,” explains Tower City Race Team’s Al Dantes Jr. “It starts fast, fast, fast, but once on top of the mountain the surface changes. There’s plenty of danger with big rocks (watermelons), and bad sightlines. Luckily, everyone has escaped danger here the last 3 years. There’s also a major, major spectator area within the first mile that ALWAYS catches showboaters out and eats cars.”

“Herman is the MOST technical stage in the US. This road was made by my Finlander ancestors and they did almost everything wrong. Lots of off camber with exposed bedrock. Don’t touch the edges of the road or you are likely to lose a tire. It’s tight and twisty with a high speed finish. And Menge Creek is super fast to start, but one tricky corner catches teams every year, as the road is off camber and tightens down on exit. One roll a year guaranteed here. The stage gets very, very tight and technical in the middle with linked 3s.”

“My favorite stage is the street stage at the end,” adds Nathan Usher. “I started out doing SCCA Rallycross, so I'm good at really tight, narrow stages and not afraid of the concrete barriers, so I always do well there. I also like that there always ends up being tons of spectator video afterward since it's in town where everyone gets to watch.”

2WD Sisu Challenge Update

With nearly everybody in Group 5, Group 2, and B-spec competing in this weekend’s 2WD Sisu Challenge, its standings are essentially the same as the overall 2-Wheel Drive standings. Hooper/Barbera-Pullen lead Burke/Brady by 23 seconds in the overall rankings, with Matt Coatsworth/Ben Anderson third.

Hooper/Barbera-Pullen claimed a prize pack of Molecule Sports products from Keanna Erickson-Chang for posting the fastest time on the rally’s opening stage at Bob Lake, as well as polyurethane sheets from ARGONICS for the fastest time on Bob Lake overall. A number of stage-based prizes remain up for grabs later today at Herman-Nestoria, Menge Creek, and Lakeshore Drive. Full prize winner lists will be shared after the conclusion of the event.