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Toyota’s Ryan Millen and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino took their RAV4 to the top of the podium with a class victory in the newly formed American Rally Association’s season opener, the Rallye Perce-Neige, in Quebec, Canada.

Millen and Gelsomino triumphed in the O2WD class after the 140-stage mile rally that included race segments in a snowstorm in Maniwaki, Quebec.

“When you get that first win, it really sets the tone early,” said Millen. “Now people have to chase us. My goal is to have an error-free year in terms of both driving and car prep.

“It doesn’t seem like we even had an off season,” continued an exhausted Millen after the race.  “It was just a little blip of a break and now we’re back into it.  We’re working harder than ever to bring home the championship this year.”

Working with a new navigator and co-pilot in rally veteran Gelsomino, Team Millen traversed the race stages with no major repairs needed.

“This was one of the hardest and longest rallies I’ve ever done,” said Gelsomino. “I’ve been in the Rally RAV4 in the gravel and dirt, but I didn’t know what to expect in the snow. The RAV4 was absolutely incredible. It performed flawlessly.”

The RAV4 and Millen got out to an early lead and often won stages by a minute or two over their nearest competitor. Once the team had a significant cushion, they focused on running a mistake-free conclusion to the event – including the final stage of the rally in white-out conditions.  

The team and RAV4 next compete in Rally America’s 100 Acre Wood Rally in Salem, Missouri on March 17.

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