ARA Olympus Rally: Drivers to Watch

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A three-time World Rally Championship event, the Olympus Rally holds a unique and special place in rallying lore in the United States. It’s seen some of the sport’s most iconic names atop its podium, from WRC legends like Juha Kankkunen and Miki Biasion to modern action sports heroes like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana. The 13-stage rally boasts over 125 stage miles, including two passes through the 18.65-mile Wildcat stage.

The entry list for this year’s event, the second on the 2018 American Rally Association schedule, features an intriguing mix of returning competitors from last month’s Oregon Trail Rally and drivers making their season debut. When you’re following along with the action this weekend, keep these entries in mind for top finishes:

#75 David Higgins/Craig Drew :: Open 4WD :: 2018 Subaru WRX STI

Yeah, yeah, we know: Subaru’s full-time factory team is a given to appear at the top of this list. This one just might be a special weekend for Higgins, though: he has the opportunity to break a tie with John Buffum and Rod Millen for the most wins all-time in this event. After winning Olympus for the first time in 2011, he’s also taken the last three victories at the ex-WRC event. After winning in Oregon, Higgins would love nothing more than to start the year with back-to-back victories.

#18 Patrik Sandell/Per Almkvist :: Open 4WD :: 2018 Subaru WRX STI

While it’s a bummer not to have two full-time Subaru Rally Team USA drivers contesting the ARA schedule, the Subaru “star car” was plenty of fun to watch with Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot in the cockpit at OTR, and will be the same way with Sandell and Almkvist here. The 2006 Junior World Rally Champion has spent most of his time in the States racing in rallycross, where he’s taken three race wins and numerous podiums, but he prepared for Olympus with a class win at Norway’s Rally Sørland.

#25 James Rimmer/Rhianon Gelsomino :: Open 4WD :: 2008 Subaru STI

Rimmer, the experienced rally and rallycross driver, will return to the stages as an Open 4WD driver for the first time in a Rocket Rally-prepped STi hatch that won a CRC championship in recent years. He’ll have plenty of experience to lean on in his first race at the top level: sitting alongside him will be Gelsomino, one of the sport’s most experienced and respected co-drivers, and last year’s Open 2WD co-driver champion from last year (alongside driver Ryan Millen).

#151 Aaron Kaufman/Krista Skucas :: Naturally Aspirated 4WD :: Subaru Impreza RS 2.5

After leaving his post as the lead mechanic of Gas Monkey Garage, Kaufman has carved out his own unique brand of celebrity as part of the new Discovery Channel show Shifting Gears. He’s a throwback to the days where every talented driver was just as adept of a mechanic, having built and raced his own 1963 Ford Falcon in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb three times. Kaufman enlisted Rally Ready’s Dave Carapetyan to help prepare him for his stage rally debut.

#56 Jeff Seehorn/Karen Jankowski :: Limited 4WD :: 2015 Subaru WRX STI

Second overall and first in class at OTR, Seehorn and Jankowski remain one of the top podium threats at any ARA event despite running in a lower class and with a fraction of the budget of some of the Open teams. Running as a dual national and regional entry, they were scored as a national DNF at this race last year, but placed second in the regional standings to Barry McKenna and Leon Jordan. Expect Seehorn to threaten for a regional victory once again this year, as well as a national podium.

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