by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Jason Swoboda

Joseph Burke and Karen Jankowski took the top spot in this weekend’s Lake Superior Performance Rally, the eighth event of the 2018 Rally America National Championship, with a total time of 2:18:12.3. Burke/Jankowski, who won the final two stages of the event and six of 15 overall, beat Rally America National Championship points leaders Dave and Mike Brown by 19.9 seconds. Matt and Adelinn Huuki completed the podium.

The victory marked Burke’s first podium in Rally America since 2013, his last season competing in the series. The 2010 series Rookie of the Year returned to the sport this season with entries at both Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and Southern Ohio Forest Rally, winning a total of 16 stages at those two events despite taking DNFs at both. This time out, however, Burke/Jankowski were in the top three throughout the entire event, and survived the treacherous snowy conditions of Saturday’s action to score the win.

The entire weekend was marked by high attrition, as a number of top competitors suffered setbacks throughout the event, and snowfall on Saturday shook up the entire field. While Burke/Jankowski and Piotr Fetela/Dominik Jozwiak split all eight stages on Friday, six different cars representing three different classes took stage wins on the second day of racing action.

Unfortunately for Fetela/Jozwiak, brake troubles in the second loop of the event on Friday removed them from contention for their third straight victory in 2018. While they returned to action on Friday night under Super Rally rules and won two more stages after the setback, they could only muster a 10th place overall finish, allowing Brown/Brown to significantly extend their championship lead.

Brown/Brown were also the top Open Light entry in the event with their time of 2:18:32.2, and actually led the event after the first loop on Saturday. Additional class winners included Michael Hooper/Claudia Barbera-Pullen in Group 5, Grzegorz Bugaj/Elizabeth Dziubanski in Super Production, Justin Kollien/Daniel Garant in Group 2, and Chris Sladek/John Sharps in B-spec.

Hooper/Barbera-Pullen and the River City Rally team also won the inaugural 2WD Sisu Challenge, an event for 2-Wheel Drive entries organized by the locally based Tower City Race Team. The event saw a number of prizes organized and awarded by the community to stoke interest in 2WD classes, and everyone who entered the event participated. Among numerous other prizes, Hooper/Barbera-Pullen earned a 50% discount on entry to a Rally America National Championship event in 2019, as well as $150 off their entry to next year’s Lake Superior Performance Rally.