by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter

Images via Mandy Lucas

For the first time since 2009, Rally Colorado returned to the Rally America National Championship schedule last year with two days of action headquartered in Rangeley, Colorado. After moving the event from the foothills of Pikes Peak to its new location, the new event featured 12 stages consisting of over 100 miles of competition.

Despite the eight-year gap between major national rally competition in Colorado, some familiar faces returned to competition at the new event. Arek Gruszka and Lukas Wronski, who had competed together in 2009, returned with a new Open car, while Steve Bis (Super Production) continued his national campaign and Scott Crouch (National Limited Open) returned to Rally America for the first time since 2012 to compete.

But the new event meant a lot of new faces would be running up front by event’s end, and of the aforementioned trio, only Bis would take a stage victory. In the end, it was Dave and Michael Brown heading up an all-SP overall podium, with Charles Surdyke and Matthew Conte in second and Bis and Scott McCarty in third.

Six different cars won stages during the event, with the Open crews of Sam Albert/Michelle Miller and Jeff Regester/Dustin Blevins taking three apiece. Bis and McCarty won two, while three different drivers won the final three stages of the event: Tasso Koch, Adam Short, and Surdyke.

But despite not winning a stage, Brown and Brown put themselves in perfect position to claim the overall victory. They climbed to third in the standings after Stage 8, behind Regester and Albert, held onto the position after the field shuffled on Stage 9, and climbed to second when Regester took a DNF on Stage 10. They took the lead for good one stage later, gaining 15 seconds on Bis and McCarty, and hung on for a 12.1-second victory after Surdyke made a phenomenal drive from fifth to second on the final stage.

In all, the top three drivers were separated by only 67.6 seconds at the end of the event. 2-Wheel Drive class winners Brad Morris and Ryan Scott finished fourth, while fellow 2WD team Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn beat NLO winners Adam Short and Danny Norkus for fifth overall by .3 seconds. Albert and Miller were the top Open class team in seventh, falling four spots on the final stage—owing to just how close the top teams were from start to finish. 21 of the 37 cars to start the rally managed to finish.

As of June 1, the 2018 edition of Rally Colorado already has 36 entries, including the debut of UTV Turbo, with veteran driver Stephan Verdier the first registered entry. Brown/Brown and Bis/McCarty have registered to defend their podium performances from last year, while Rally in the 100 Acre Wood and Southern Ohio Forest Rally winners Piotr Fetela and Dominik Jozwiak will look to make it three victories in a row.

Rally Colorado competitors can register for the event here. Early entry fees remain in effect through June 15. Volunteers can also apply to join the Rally Colorado crew here.