At the conclusion of the New England Forest Rally, the Maxxis/HPD Rally Team was narrowly in second place in the season-long B-Spec championship. The team of Keanna Erickson-Chang and Ole Holter in their B-spec Ford Fiesta would be sure to keep up their momentum going into Ojibwe Forests Rally, so the Maxxis/HPD team would need to focus on picking up its pace and ensuring the car wouldn’t suffer from any mechanical failures.
“We’re really happy to be here at the Ojibwe Forests Rally,” stated Jordan Guitar, Honda engineer and driver for the Maxxis/HPD Team. “We came away from the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) with a bit of damage to the front shock towers and our brake system, but luckily we were able to make repairs. Right now, we are one point behind in the B-Spec Championship, and with Keanna and Ole running very quick stage times, this should be a great event to watch!”
Ojibwe Forests Rally stages are known to be quite technically challenging. Some areas are fast and flowing, while others are tight and twisty, with varying surfaces from gravel to sand. Day 1 would consist of three stages, run twice each. The Maxxis/HPD team began Stage 1 with a bit of caution, trying to feel how the repairs to the Fit would hold up over some of the rougher sections in the stage. The sun had set by Stage 3, so the remaining stages would be run at night. After a quick service, the Fit team turned up the pace a bit for the remaining three stages of the day. As the teams came to the finish, the Fit had built up a two minute, 20-second lead in B-Spec, and was narrowly in third place in 2WD.
“The stages today were a lot of fun,” noted Guitar after the finish of Day 1. “The second time through, the stages were pretty rutted, but the Fit and the Maxxis tires are holding up really well.”
“We are in a good spot heading into Day 2,” said Brian Penza, co-driver for the Maxxis/HPD Team, “but we’ll have to keep up our momentum to try and catch the 2WD cars and stay in front of the B-Spec field.”
Day 2 began with rain on the radar and eight stages to tackle. On the first stage of the day, 2WD competitors Steve LaRoza and Alison LaRoza in their Fiesta ST immediately overtook the Maxxis/HPD Team to regain third place in 2WD. Over the next two stages, the Fit pushed to keep up with them, as well as distance itself from its B-Spec competitors. “The last few stages were really amazing,” commented Guitar at service. “The Fit is handling these roads very well. We’re running very close in time with our competitors, making for a very exciting rally.”
Just after exiting service, en route to the next round of stages, the weather turned to a light rain, then to an intense downpour, combined with heavy hail. While only lasting a few minutes, conditions on the next stage had deteriorated heavily from the first running of the day, featuring a huge amount of standing water, even deeper puddles and very slippery terrain. This caused some difficulty for the team, and all competitors, but the remaining stages weren’t in as rough a shape, so the team was able to keep up the pace and make it to the final two stages, to be held on the streets of Detroit Lakes.
“Stage 10 was intense,” noted Penza before the start of the street stages. “It was really slippery; luckily, we were able to keep it just tidy enough to finish without any damage to the car … or our egos.”
As the final stage was completed, the Maxxis/HPD was able to finish first in B-Spec by roughly four minutes, and fourth in 2WD. “We’re really happy with this result,” stated Guitar after the finish. “The Fit once again proved just how durable the stock Honda Fit parts can be, and Brian did a great job of co-driving. Keanna and Ole put down some amazing stage times this weekend. It really made for a spectacular race in B-Spec.”