Torrance, Calif., May 16, 2017— Ryan Millen and the Rally RAV4 won the 2WD class at the
Olympus Rally for the second straight year, notching up a final margin of victory of well over
seven minutes. The Toyota’s durability was a crucial factor, as multiple competitors fell by the
wayside with broken vehicles. The win makes it three out of three for the RAV4 this season, and
gives Millen a commanding championship lead in the 2017 American Rally Association 2WD
The Olympus Rally dates back to 1973, and played host to the World Rally Championship
during the fabled Group B years of the 1980s, so a win here is always coveted.
Millen’s chief competitor in the Ford Fiesta completed just a single stage before a broken axle
forced him out of the race. The retirement underscored the RAV4 team’s faith in the Toyota’s
“It’s something that we don’t have to worry about, again speaking for our reliability,” said
Millen, shortly after spraying the traditional celebratory Champagne for the third time in as many
races. “It’s unfortunate for him, but for us, big picture championship-wise, this puts us in a great
This season’s theme of unrivaled preparation paid dividends from the outset. Facing some of the
longest stages of the season, the team expected the Toyota’s exceptional durability and Millen’s
mental endurance to be key to victory.
There were extra challenges at Olympus, though, which placed a premium on being technically
proficient in both driver preparation and vehicle setup. Most of the routes were new, which
limited the ways in which Millen could study the course. Mother Nature even threw in the
occasional downpour to increase the difficulty.
Speaking about the tricky conditions, Millen said, “You have to be mentally strong and
remember that everyone else is dealing with them too. You don’t know what mistakes they’re
making, and you have to keep the focus on your battle.”
With one competitor already out, a local rally driver who is very familiar with the terrain stepped
up, posing an unexpected fight. Driving a highly modified Subaru BRZ, the surprise competition
forced Millen to give his maximum effort the entire way, despite the unforgiving nature of the
Millen and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino’s detailed pace notes, combined with the same
aggressive tire strategy that contributed to victory at the Oregon Trail Rally, enabled the duo to
take full advantage of the RAV4’s inherent superiorities in ride height, suspension travel, and
The race between the two was close, until durability woes struck the new challenger with just
two stages remaining. His retirement all but sealed the win for the perfectly dependable RAV4.
Team Millen and the Rally RAV4 can now clinch the season championship with a victory in any
of the remaining three rallies. Despite a lack of pressure from rivals, Gelsomino is determined
not to let complacency set in as Millen looks to secure the ARA championships title, and keep
the chance of a perfect season alive.
“Nothing changes for us,” she said. “We just keep working on things and getting better. At the
end of the day our opposition is going to have to take a step up.”
The team now faces a quick turnaround to prepare for the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally on June 2-3