None of the trails on the Rally America circuit are particularly easy, but the Oregon Trail Rally presents a unique challenge. OTR is the only three-day event on the championship schedule, and its unforgiving terrain combines with both flat out stretches and tight, technical corners to push both teams and drivers to the limit.
Making it to the finish line requires substantial amounts of both skill and luck, and while Matthew Johnson and the Scion Racing Rally xD team have plenty of the former, they had the misfortune of running into mechanical issues throughout the weekend, resulting in their first DNF.
The troubles started on Day 1, as the Rally xD went out for its initial stages. Rallying on loose terrain necessitates the maximum possible amount of grip possible, and the car’s Hankook tires have performed superbly in that regard. However, mixing grippy tires with substantial power has the potential to produce disastrous results, and in the case of the Oregon Trail Rally, that meant a broken axle on the Rally xD.
Undeterred, the team worked to get the car back in shape for the remainder of the weekend, and for the most part, did so successfully on Day 2. The Scion Racing Rally xD lost 2nd gear, making it difficult to power out of corners, through Matthew Johnson kept the car together and was able to help move it on to Day 3 of OTR.
Fighting to hold onto their lead in the 2WD standings, the team pushed hard into the final day of the event. Eventually and unfortunately, the gearbox finally gave out as the car lost 3rd gear, and the team retired from OTR due to an engine failure.
Despite the troubles, the team has a solid grasp on 2nd Place in the 2WD championship, and another break between rounds should give them plenty of time to reload for another shot at the top of the standings. With each successive event, Matthew Johnson is growing increasingly comfortable behind the wheel of the Scion Racing Rally xD, making it an increasingly large threat for the 2014 title. With the strength of the Rally xD team behind him, the car should have no trouble finding its way back by the end of the season.
We’ll be bringing you a full video recap of the Oregon Trail Rally soon, but in the meantime, be sure to check out all of our photos from the event, and be sure to follow @mjrally and @rallyxd on Instagram for all the latest news from the team.