With two titles secured in October, Team O’Neil Motorsports recently completed a successful 2017 season of competition.
Driver and car owner Dave Wallingford (Columbus, OH) and co-driver Leanne Junnila (Calgary, AB) garnered two separate 2WD championship titles; the Canadian Rally Championship (CRC), as well as the North American Rally Cup (NARC). Junnila also finished first in the Canadian Ladies Cup.
The team successfully campaigned their Ford Fiesta R2T across the United States, Mexico and Canada. Highlights of the season included a podium finish in class at WRC Mexico, competing at the Mt. Washington Climb to the Clouds, and contesting the majority of American Rally Association and Rally America events. The results were that much more impressive considering the 2017 season was only Wallingford’s second full season of stage rally competition.
In the season’s final event, Wallingford and Junnila brought home a convincing victory at the Big White Winter Rally in Kelowna, BC Canada. The victory was particularly satisfying given Wallingford’s relative lack of stage rally experience in winter conditions. The event delivered with snow-covered roads that challenged competitors. The slick roads collected their share of casualties, Wallingford and Junnila were among only a few competitors to successfully navigate the three-day event in aggressive fashion.
“Big White Winter Rally was a great event,” stated Driver Dave Wallingford. “I’ve struggled at snow rallies in the past, but I think I was able to balance the patience required for racing in the snow with my desire to go fast. I drove consistently and stayed out of the snow banks, so we didn’t have any of the drama that our competitors did, and I finally enjoyed a winter rally. Winning 2WD was a great bonus! ”
With the 2017 season complete, the team is already fully-focused on 2018 and making the jump to AWD competition in a M-Sport built Ford Fiesta R5. Based on the Ford Fiesta ST production vehicle, the all-wheel-drive Fiesta R5 is M-Sport’s most successful global rally car with over 200 of the cars competing around the world.
“Winning the CRC and NARC 2WD championships was a great way to end 2017,” stated Driver Dave Wallingford. “It’s given me the confidence to step up to the next level of competition in the Fiesta R5. I’ll be competing against the top teams in the US and Canada, and I plan to see how I do against international competitors in a few WRC events as well. It’s a big step up, so I have my work cut out for me over the winter to get ready for 2018.”
Events tentatively on the 2018 schedule for the team include WRC Mexico, WRC Spain and WRC Great Britain. In addition to international competition, Wallingford and Junnila plan to once again campaign the full American Rally Association series in 2018. For continuing updates on the car, results and the team’s competition schedule follow Dave Wallingford’s Instagram “savagedaverally” or Team O’Neil Rally School on Facebook “teamoneilrally”, Instagram “teamoneil”, YouTube “teamoneilrally” or visit TeamOneil.com.