Last weekend’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood turned out to have a fairly high attrition rate (nearly half [48%] of the national competitor field didn’t finish), but we’re pleased to report that of the 16 who made it to the finish, 11 have Team O’Neil Rally School instruction and training on their resumes.
Of course, the big news was that the rally welcomed the return of one of Team O’Neil
Rally School’s most high profile students, Gymkhana star and Rally America-turned-WRC racer Ken Block. In his 6th appearance at the high-speed rally in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Block claimed his 6th win, this time in his hand-built, highly modified, super fast Ford Fiesta.
The excitement for Team O’Neil didn’t end with Block’s triumphant return, however. Former students as well as TON instructors and mechanics took 6 of the 9 podium positions in three classes (Open, Super Production & 2WD) in the national rally, and 10 of the top 13 spots in the race overall.
Instructor Travis Hanson grabbed the second place spot in the Super Production class, and 5th overall, and last year’s Rally America Rookie of the Year, Adam Yeoman, came in 4th in the Open Class and 6th overall. Mason Moyle garnered the 3rd place podium in the Super Production class, finishing 12th overall. Our congratulations go out to these podium finishers, as well as to former TON students Evan Cline (13th overall and 4th in Super Production) and Verena Mei (16th overall and 7th in 2WD).
But perhaps most interesting to those of us at Team O’Neil, where Tim’s philosophy is to teach drivers how to drive lower powered, 2WD vehicles fast, was that 5 of the top 11 finishers overall raced 2WD vehicles, proving that a driver with the right training and experience can compete with drivers of higher powered cars. In fact, of the 16 national rally teams that finished the race, 7 were racing 2WD vehicles, and 6 of the drivers have trained at Team O’Neil. TON instructor Chris Duplessis once again dominated the 2WD field in his Ford Fiesta R2, followed by Andrew Comrie-Picard (2nd) and Dillon Van Way (3rd).
Our vote for the crowning event of the race? Ed McNelly, TON’s shop manager and lead
mechanic, actually rolled his Ford Fiesta R2 on SS14; but, seeing as he landed back on his wheels, simply stepped on the gas again and drove off into the sunset to finish 10th overall. Ed lost just under a minute, but Tim’s response to that was, “You can wreck the car, but don’t lose time!” Well, we’ll be doing a further write-up of this one, rest assured…
Two regional rally drivers also stood out: Chris Greenhouse, who took 1st place in the open class in both the Trespassers Wil and 100 Acre Wood Regional Rallies (and who took 11th overall for the national rally!), and Carl Siegler, who brought home 2nd place in the Trespassers Wil and 3rd in the 100 Acre Wood Regional Rally.
We’ll be putting together photos and videos from the rally to post for your enjoyment. And if you have any images or video from the race that you’d like to share with us, we’d love to see it!Team O’Neil service.