by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Rally America

The 2017 season was one of change for the Rally America National Championship, with the addition of two great new events that brought in a number of the sport’s western-based competitors. Rally Colorado, won by Dave and Mike Brown in their first career victory, was the first; Rally Wyoming, which featured brand new roads built specifically for the competition, was the second.

The two-day, 12-stage event managed to draw a number of the sport’s most familiar faces. Art Gruszka/Lukasz Wronski, well on the way to their first ever Rally America national title, headlined the Open class, while a two-car effort from PMR Motorsports featuring Pat Moro/Ole Holter and Tim Rooney/Alex Gelsomino joined Brown/Brown on the Super Production entry list. Add in the return of Dillon Van Way in an NLO entry, as well as regular Rally America competitors Cameron Steely/Preston Osborn, James Robinson/John Sharps, and Keanna Erickson-Chang/Claudia Barbera-Pullen, and the 23-car entry packed some serious punch.

But in the end, so did the roads, which claimed 10 entries before the weekend was up. At the front of the pack, Gruszka/Wronski, Van Way/Dai Roberts, and Moro/Holter would split the first day of action at two stages apiece, with Moro the only driver to sweep a stage (Lance Creek). 20 entries would make it to the end of that first day, with Van Way/Roberts in the lead by 29.9 seconds over Gruszka/Wronski at the halfway point.

Day two, however, kicked off with the longest stage of the event: JP Oil Southeast, a daunting 16.86-mile trek that drivers would have to face as both SS7 and SS10. It was that stage that claimed a number of entrants, including Van Way/Roberts and the pairing of 2018 Rally Colorado third-place finisher Roger Matthews and winning co-driver Scott McCarty. That gave the lead to Gruszka/Wronski, who would use four stage wins—including a 54-second victory over Moro/Holter in the second pass at JP Oil Southeast—to extend the advantage to over two minutes by the end of the event.

Behind the eventual winners, the teammates of Rooney/Gelsomino and Moro/Holter would also face a challenge from Jeff Regester/Dustin Blevins for a podium spot before their own DNF on SS10. Moro/Holter would win out, taking the SP class win and second overall by 4:51.1 over Rooney/Gelsomino by event’s end. Other class winners included Edward McNelly/Ian MacPherson in 2WD, Erickson-Chang/Barbera-Pullen in B-spec, and Adam Short/Danny Norkus in NLO.