by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter

Images via Rally America (1); Rupert Berrington (2)

MAKING OF A CHAMPIONSHIP
The Galvanizing Moment // The Return // From One Extreme to Another // Returning to Colorado (today) // Down the Stretch // The Champions

While a DNF at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood was a setback, the Browns returned to the podium again with a third place finish in the second annual Southern Ohio Forest Rally. By then, the championship battle was coming into focus: while they remained in the lead, the Fetela Rally Team of Piotr Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak, with their Open class Ford Fiesta, had two victories and were closing fast.

“It wasn't until probably after our overall podium at the Southern Ohio Forest Rally that I even paid much attention to the overall points,” Dave admits. “We were in the overall points lead most of the season, but each race the Fetela Rally Team kept chipping away at our lead as they took overall win after overall win. It seemed like a matter of time until they blew us away in the points chase. Luckily for us, we kept finishing close behind them to minimize the damage.”

From there, it was time to return to Rally Colorado, as the defending event champions aimed to return to the podium once again. That event proved to be the difference maker, but not in the way anyone might have expected: lingering motor issues that had plagued the team throughout the season flared back up early in the event, but nothing is a given in rally—not even your opponents.

“At Rally Colorado we started off just killing it with an overall stage win, and we felt so good, but on Stage 3 we lost around 25 minutes with motor issues,” Dave explains. “At this point we were still focused on class points, plus there is something miraculous about finishing one of these rallies, so there was no way we were going to quit unless we had to.

“But shortly after, Piotr and Dominik had to drop out. I was really disappointed because I was looking forward to a battle to see if there was any way I could beat him on another stage. We ended up having even more motor issues on day two, but in the end I was incredibly happy with that race because the whole team worked so hard and we managed to finish every mile while setting nine overall fastest stage times and three stage records. Plus, it was kind of neat that we were still in the overall points lead. Most importantly, we learned a lot about how to better deal with adverse situations to limit the amount of time lost in the future. This would come in handy at the next race!”

By virtue of completing the event without re-entering under Super Rally rules, the Browns managed to earn eight bonus points for finishing. With Fetela and Jozwiak only earning a single point for starting the rally, even finishing outside of the overall top 10 extended their overall points lead.