by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Rally America

Good luck finding a higher-attrition rally on the 2018 Rally America National Championship calendar than this year’s edition of Rally Colorado.

Simply surviving Friday’s six stages has been an accomplishment. Only 25 of the 39 entries on the grid completed the first leg of the event, and others still found themselves in service well after the field had already headed off to SS4.

Most surprising of the latter group was the Fetela Rally Team, which entered the weekend with two straight overall wins and even led the field through SS3 with a total time of 38:40.3. But while the field set off to the second loop of the day in transit, Piotr Fetela/Dominik Jozwiak pulled off to the side of the transit route, waving other competitors past them before returning to service.

That handed off the lead to O.D.D. Racing’s Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn at 39:21.8, with OTC Racing’s Tasso Koch and Abby French in second. But it wouldn’t be that way for long after both faced issues on the roads; instead, it was a pair of 2017 stage winners on top at the close of the day, with Adam Short/Danny Norkus at 1:21:44.8 in first and Steve Bis/Scott McCarty at 1:22:35.4 in second.

Fortunately for Fetela/Jozwiak, defending event winners and current points leaders Dave/Mike Brown have dealt with their own trouble during the event. After struggling to get their engine sorted prior to Friday, Brown/Brown actually led the rally after SS2, but had to pull over on SS3 with electrical issues and fell all the way to 24th at service area. They would climb their way back to 14th by the end of the day.

The highly anticipated debut of the UTV Turbo class saw both Stephan Verdier/Hudson Hall and Rhys Millen/JR Hartley face issues. For the former crew, an off during SS2 cut their day short, though both driver and co-driver were uninjured. The latter, meanwhile, faced mechanical issues. Rory Gardiner/Steven Harrell’s vehicle didn’t arrive to Rangely in time, forcing them to enter from SS4 under Super Rally rules, and Tadd Rigsby/Camron Harshman didn’t complete SS3 before the stage was closed due to a roll (although they eventually drove away).

But they were far from the only teams that faced issues during the day. Adam VanDamme/Jacob Carlson’s shot at claiming the 2WD championship lead went south with their engine, giving Mike Erickson/Jacob Good a prime opportunity to capitalize. SS1 claimed Zach Whitebread/Cameron Carr’s entry due to an off just a few miles in, and Craig/Carrie Lumsden faced a fire just a few miles later in the stage.

Class leaders after the first day of Rally Colorado are:

  • Super Production: Adam Short, Danny Norkus, 1:21:44.8 (1st overall)
  • Open Light: Steve Bis/Scott McCarty, 1:22:35.4 (2nd overall)
  • Open: Jerry Kendall/Cody Melius, 1:25:39.7 (3rd overall)
  • Group 2: Mike Erickson/Jacob Good, 1:28:32.8 (4th overall)
  • Group 5: Greg Healey/Philip Barnes, 1:31:17.0 (9th overall)
  • B-spec: Tracey Gardiner/Nia Schenk, 1:49:15.1 (19th overall)

Rally Colorado resumes on Saturday morning with the second day of the national event and the regional Blazin Saddles Rally.