ARA Star Planning To Contest WRC Poland

January 6, 2024Joe Moore
ARARallyWRC2

A young ARA star has revealed their preliminary 2024 schedule. Find out who and what WRC event they plan on attending below. 

Who Is It?

2023 American Rally Association (ARA) runner-up Patrick Gruszka has revealed the list of events he plans on attending in 2024. This list included all the rounds of the 2024 ARA national championship and one ARA regional event. It also includes all rounds of the 2024-25 Nitrocross schedule. Which will kick off at Richmond Raceway in Richmond Virginia. However, one of the most notable events on Gruszka’s list for the upcoming season is WRC Poland. 

Not A Huge Surprise

Patrick Gruszka has previously hinted at competing in a World Rally Championship event. As the 20-year-old revealed on episode 13 of the Into The Dust Podcast that he intended on travelling to Europe to compete in an event. Gruszka has been one of the ARA’s top young drivers. Winning the 2023 RC2 championship. Beating a former Junior WRC driver in the process. Not only would Rally Poland be Gruszka’s first time competing in Europe. It will also be a home event for the Polish American. As Gruszka’s father Ark is originally from Poland. 

What Class? 

Gruszka will likely compete in the WRC2 class in a Hyundai i20 R5. The same model of car he currently drives in the ARA. However, it’s unlikely he will use the same i20 he uses in America as he intends on competing at the South Ohio Forest Rally earlier that month. Gruszka’s co-driver Florian Barral has experience driving at European events. As well as what to expect from the events as he has served as a crew member for Pierre-Louis Loubet. Gruszka likely won’t be fighting for the WRC2 class win but will look to use the event as a learning experience. 

Lia Block will drive her late father’s Ford Escort Cosworth “Cossie” Version 2 at the Lake Superior Performance Rally this weekend. 

The Youngest ARA Champion 

Lia Block won the O2WD Championship in the ARA this season. By doing this Lia has become the youngest driver in American Rally history to win a championship. As she was just 16 years old when she took home the championship. Lia drove a rear-wheel-drive Subaru BRZ this season and she was unstoppable. Winning 4 out of 5 events she competed in this season. Beating drivers who had years more experience than her almost instantly. Joined by 3 time American Rally Champion Co-Driver Rhianon Gelsomino, Lia had all the pieces to win the championship. It was up to her to make it happen. She did that and made quite a name for herself in the process. As World Rally Teams have started to take notice of the now 17-year-old. Lia is bursting at the seams with natural skill. 

Driving A Icon

Her father Ken Block is a pretty large name in the world of Motorsports. Creating the Gymkhana series, and being one of, if not the greatest American rally drivers in history are a few reasons why he is such a large name. One of Ken’s most iconic cars is his Ford Escort Cosworth. Nicknamed the Cossie, Ken used this car throughout 2019 at select events across the world. The Cossie V2 was created after the first version of the Cossie caught fire at the 2018 running of the New England Forest Rally.
Ken was able to take home first in the M6 class at Rally Legend in 2019 and 2020 with the Cossie V2. In 2021 Ken returned to the ARA full-time to chase his first rally championship. He didn’t use the Cossie that season, however. The last rally action the Cossie had seen before this weekend was the 2021 running of NEFR with Jax Redline behind the wheel. Lia will drive this legendary vehicle this weekend at LSPR.

Her First Time

Lia Block has driven 4WD cars competitively before. Driving in both NRX NEXT and Extreme E. However she has never driven a 4WD in a rally before. Making this weekend her first time, and what better car to do it in? Lia likely won’t push the car to the same limits Ken did. As she has a lack of experience as previously mentioned and the car itself is basically priceless. It’s not something you’d want to risk destroying. 

What’s Next For Lia?

Lia Block’s future in rally is uncertain at this point. As she has made it known she has an interest in circuit racing and has her foot in multiple other series. However, if she does choose to continue her rally career she will likely have a good one. As she has loads of natural skill for Rally and is an incredible driver already. If she were to go to the WRC there’s a good chance she could be one of the better drivers in the championship. I mean she was already challenging Brandon Semenuk on stages while she was in a 2WD car. With Semenuk in an open class top of the line rally car. Doors are open for Lia and she will likely have a tough decision ahead of her. 

Brandon Semenuk is now a 2 time ARA champion. Winning the championship this past weekend at the Ojibwe Forests Rally. Should Semenuk consider competing in some WRC events?

The Facts

© Matthew Stryker, subaru.com/motorsports 2023

Brandon Semenuk is the newest multi-time American Rally Champion. Following in the footsteps of legends like Travis Pastrana and David Higgins. On the way to winning the 2023 Green APU American Rally Association Championship Semenuk won all but 9 stages so far this season. Only losing those stages to 2020 champion Barry McKenna at the Rally In The 100 Acre Wood. That was also the last time Semenuk had any real competition. As Semenuk has finished every rally at least 3 minutes ahead of his competition. Patrick Gruszka’s Hyundai i20 R5 or Tom Williams Ford Fiesta R5 aren’t on the same level as Semenuk’s Subaru WRX STI. 

An Ongoing Want From Fans

This conversation about seeing Semenuk compete in the WRC or ERC has been going on since last season. Last season Semenuk won his first championship. Beating the late Ken Block in the final round after Ken crashed and retired. Semenuk and Block went neck to neck all season long, Semenuk led most of the season but Block was hot on his tail. Semenuk stepped up for 2021 ARA Champion Travis Pastrana when Pastrana wasn’t on pace with Block. 

Why He Could Give It A Chance 

Semenuk is an extremely talented driver. When he competed in a Subaru Rally Team USA young driver event in 2018.  Semenuk was on the dot consistently and shocked the Subaru engineers and team at the event. Semenuk was no stranger to Rally at that point, however. With the Canadian competing in both the CRC in a Subaru Crosstrek and the ARA in a Ford Fiesta R5. Claiming multiple rally wins in the Canadian Championship. Semenuk could prove to be a strong competitor in the WRC2 championship. Although he has limited experience in the WRC2 cars, they would also be a step down from his Open Class Subaru he currently drives. It would be a bit of a learning curve for Semenuk that may or may not be worth it in the long run.

Why He May Not

The biggest reason why Semenuk may not compete in European rallies is due to his already packed schedule. Semenuk competes as both a Rally driver and a Mountain Biker. Something he already juggles in North America and is tight at times. Add in the extra time needed to compete in a WRC or ERC event and it would likely be difficult. Semenuk also isn’t a young guy. Being 32 years old and 33 in February he’s a bit of a disadvantage. Although it’s not unheard of for a driver to make thier debut after the age of 30. As Kajetan Kajetanowicz has done it before, and done well since then. There is a difference between Kajetanowicz and Semenuk however. Kajetanowicz was already competing in R5 cars and in Europe. Semenuk has spent limited time in a R5 car and hasn’t competed in Europe. 

Another Option

There isn’t a complete loss for those hoping to see Semenuk compete in the WRC2 class. As Semenuk could compete in the class when the championship comes to the Americas. This would be optimal for Semenuk as it’s closer to home and wouldn’t require long travel. Subaru Rally Team USA drivers are also no strangers to competing in the WRC when it comes to the Americas. With both Ken Block and Travis Pastrana competing in Mexico with the team. 

The Verdict

Brandon Semenuk will likely drive a handful of rallies in Europe at some point in his career. When that happens is the question that will have to wait to be answered. As timing is the biggest factor. Everything has to make sense for Semenuk to do it, especially for a round in Europe. 

American Rally Association: This press release was not authored by Speed Trap Magazine Staff. Read the original press release: Green APU Signs as Title Sponsor of the American Rally Association
By Jeremy Meyer

Speedway, Ind. ~ The American Rally Association, the premier stage rally series in the United State, is proud to announce that it has reached an agreement with Green APU to become the series title sponsor.

The partnership between the ARA and Green APU includes naming rights to the ARA’s National championship. Starting in 2023, the national championship will officially be named the Green APU National Rally Championship.

“This is an exciting day for stage rally in the United States,” said ARA Business and Marketing Director, Jeremy Meyer. “Green APU is bringing an amazing amount of support to the ARA for the next three years. They have a deep passion for rallying and share our vision on how we can help grow this sport. They will bring valuable resources that will help us build better competition, as well as the ability to showcase the ARA to the world.”  

Green APU has been a fixture in the rally community over the past two decades. The Chicago-based company’s founder, Arkadiusz “Art” Gruszka, had a successful career, including his championship season in 2017 when he tallied four overall wins. In 2021, his son, Patrick, took over the wheel and has been a top competitor in the ARA the past two seasons. He finished the 2022 season sixth overall and will begin his 2023 championship campaign at the Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Mich., February 10-11.

“Rally in the United States has picked up a lot of momentum,” said Art Gruszka. “We have such great roads in America, and the world needs to know about them. It is our goal to bring rally enthusiasts to compete in a series that offers an even playing field. We want to see big crowds and more competition that is fair for everyone. This is a perfect opportunity for Green APU.”

The 2023 Green APU National Rally Championship will feature eight national rounds, starting in February and finishing in October at the Lake Superior Performance Rally. To learn more about the ARA, go to https://www.americanrallyassociation.org.

About Green APU: Green APU is an industry leader in Auxiliary Power Units, offering the most versatile, convenient and durable APU’s for the semi-truck market. To learn more about Green APU and its products, go to: https://greenapu.com.