As Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino won the 100 Acre Wood race in the 4WD division of Rally America, Ford Racing’s Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP) and co-driver Ole Holter claimed victory in the 2WD category in their Team O’Neil-prepared Ford Fiesta. The duo outlasted second-place Matthew Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey, of Scion Racing.
“This event was really confidence inspiring,” commented Comrie-Picard, adding, that the race “really favors high horsepower for faster speeds, but we were exact with the Ford Fiesta and we did what we came here to do.“
Held on the rural roads in the vicinity of Salem, Steelville, and Potosi, Missouri, 100 Acre Wood is known for high speeds and big commitment to fast corners. This year’s event marked the first time that ACP had driven the M-Sport-developed Ford Fiesta R2 on gravel, and only the second time he had driven it at all.
“This is a great result and a vindication of our strategy for this year,” said ACP. “The win is the result of great effort by Team O’Neil Motorsports and Ford Racing, and it gets our Championship campaign off to a great start.”
Notably, the team almost clinched first in the SnoDrift Rally hosted last month in Michigan, carrying the lead but then giving up two spots after getting stuck in a snowbank.
“We had absolutely no issues and just kept clicking off consistent stage times while adjusting to deal with any other rivals who were putting in good times. On the second day, we had to turn up the wick a little and that put us ahead with a margin, and then the other teams just took care of themselves and we ended up with a big margin,” said co-driver Holter.
The victory marked the second consecutive year that ACP has won the two-wheel-drive division at the 100 Acre Wood Rally. It was also his fifth time on a podium at the event.
“We knew coming here that we were at a technical disadvantage to our main competitors on top speed,” said Tim O’Neil, principal of Team O’Neil Motorsports, “but what we lacked in gearing we made up for in agility and good strategy. It was a textbook win.” The team ran BFGoodrich tires in a specialized size to adapt the car’s gearing for the fast event.
To note, both ACP and Scion Racing’s Johnson currently have 2WD wins, but Johnson is leading in the 2WD points standing. For now.
ACP and the team is now getting ready for the Oregon Trail Rally held near Portland, Oregon on May 2-4. The event, which involves tarmac, twisty, and fast sections in the shadow of Mount Hood, is described as challenging and multi-faceted.
Photo and quote credit: Rally America