Toyota RAV4 Wins First American Rally Association Title
After a long and trying season in 2016 that saw it narrowly lose to Ford in the last round, Ryan Millen and his Rally RAV4 have finally had everything go their way in 2017, winning all of the first five rounds of the American Rally Association (ARA) 2WD championship to take the title with still one round to go.
Because they took victory at the first four rounds, Millen and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino needed only to secure a single point at the New England Forest Rally (NEFR) to win the 2WD championship. The ARA awards each team a point at the start of each rally, which meant the Toyota RAV4 SE needed only to cross the timing line once throughout the weekend to win the championship. Millen and Gelsomino wouldn’t settle for just that, though, and went on to win the NEFR as well.
“This is pretty cool,” Millen said. “I didn’t plan on it, but I worked as hard as I could to make it happen, and then it happened. We’ve had battle after battle after battle. We did our homework, and we earned each win.”
Related: Safe adventures for your Toyota RAV4
The Rally RAV4’s capabilities have been on full display throughout the season. Despite going through nearly 1,000 miles of extreme abuse throughout the first five rounds, the stock four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission are still going strong. Even though some of its competitors have displayed more sheer speed, the RAV4’s reliability has helped it dominate at every stage.
“The Rally RAV4 has been absolutely incredible,” said Gelsomino, who only this year started as Millen’s co-driver. “I honestly couldn’t believe what we can do in that stock car. To see the times we can put down, to see the jumps that we do in the RAV4, flying through the stages and seeing the spectators supporting us. It’s pretty incredible.”
The final round of the ARA will take place at the Ojibwe Forest Rally on August 25. There, Toyota will look to make it a perfect six-for-six while attempting to finish ahead of the quicker 4WD classes to claim third overall in the championship.
Related: 2017 Toyota RAV4 overview
Source: New England Forest Rally