HOUGHTON, Mich. – Ford Fiesta starts Rally America’s final national championship event this weekend at Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) with four championships in sight.
For Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino, three consecutive victories have put them in contention to clinch their first Rally America National Championship. The Hoonigan Racing Division team will face the defending champions, Subaru’s David Higgins and Craig Drew, at LSPR in an ultimate championship battle where winner will take all.
"I'm excited to be going into LSPR in this position," said Block. "We've fought hard to get ourselves to this point and now we're set up for an exciting final race, not just for ourselves, but for the fans as well."
The championship pursuit has not come easily for Block with unlucky circumstances keeping him from the podium at the first two rallies. However, the Ford Fiesta driver turned his season around with his first podium appearance in round three and now holds the most stage wins among all drivers with 48 of a possible 98.
"We're fighting for our first-ever Rally America championship title," said Block. "We've landed two second overalls and one third overall previously, so hopefully we're able to add a first overall on Saturday."
Block’s performance has also put Ford in contention to win Rally America’s first Manufacturers’ Championship. The winner-take-all scenario means a championship for the winning team’s manufacturer, making the final fight a battle between Ford and Subaru.
For Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Gelsomino, they need a final class win at LSPR to clinch their first Rally America championship and return the two-wheel-drive (2WD) championship to Ford. In addition, a victory would also clinch the class manufacturers’ championship.
“I have prepared for this rally just the same as the last four Rally America events,” said Reeves. “I’ve kept myself as race fit as possible, competing back in Australia in the WRC round held at Coffs Harbour, and studied in-car YouTube footage of previous LSPR rallies.
“I never thought I’d be in the position to be going after a Rally America championship,” added Reeves. “It was well into the season already when we made our first appearance. To make the next four rounds, and have the success we have had, shows what a real team effort this has been.”
The Team O’Neil Ford Fiesta R2 duo entered the season at round three and has earned four straight class wins. In addition, Reeves and Gelsomino made Rally America history by securing the highest overall 2WD placement at a national rally with a third-place finish their last time out at the Ojibwe Forests Rally in Minnesota.
“The Fiesta is a perfect entry level car in rally, but when you combine it with the experience and speed that Brendan brings to the table, it’s taken to the top of its performance,” said Tim O’Neil of Team O’Neil Motorsports. “Brendan has shown that overall podium finishes can happen with lower power vehicles because he’s done an incredible job keeping and pushing the speed in the Fiesta.
“Effort equals results and they have put a lot of effort into their driving, notes and training,” said O’Neil. “Beyond showing a lot of these drivers how much labor goes into top finishes, they continue to demonstrate why the Fiesta is the most efficient rally car by keeping on the podium.”