15 Sep 2019
Oliver Solberg claimed his second win for Subaru Motorsports USA in the American Rally Association series, surviving late drama to beat team mate David Higgins by 55.4s in the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally.
The teenager and co-driver Aaron Johnston won eight of the opening 10 stages in wet and muddy conditions, and ended the first day of the event with a 1m 06.3s lead over Higgins.
However, during the penultimate stage on Saturday the runaway leaders lost rear-wheel-drive in their WRX STI, causing them to lose 33 seconds. The problem was soon resolved though, allowing Solberg to win the final stage. Overall Solberg won 11 out of 15 stages, with Higgins winning the third, ninth, 13th, and 14th stages.
Solberg and Johnston’s triumph at STPR was their first win together – Johnston had been absent for Solberg’s first win at the Olympus Rally in April, with former Subaru WRC co-driver Denis Giraudet stepping in.
Higgins’ second place finish was enough to secure his tenth US rally crown – his eighth with co-driver Craig Drew – with one round still to go.
Behind the Subaru duo was Barry McKenna who fought from an early off back to claim third in his WRC-engined Ford Fiesta S2000.
McKenna began the rally by setting the third fastest time on the opening stage, but dropped down to 17th one stage later after getting beached at a hairpin and dropping seven minutes. No damaged was sustained and he was able to continue.
He was back up to the top-10 by the fourth stage, and returned to the podium positions by the end of the first stage of the second day.
Piotr Fetela, who won the season-opening Sno* Drift Rally and went into STPR second in the ARA series points, finished fourth after being overhauled by McKenna in the seventh stage.
Ramana Lagemann had been running in a solid third place for much of the first day of the event, but retired after sustaining damage on the second Waste Management stage (stage 10).