100 Acre Wood: Round two preview

L'ESTAGE LEADS RALLY AMERICA CHAMPIONSHIP ENTERING SECOND ROUND Block Seeks Third Consecutive Event Title; Pastrana, Pinker Aim to Rebound from First Round Disappointment SALEM, Mo., Feb. 18, 2008 -- Canadians Antoine L'Estage and Andrew ...

L'ESTAGE LEADS RALLY AMERICA CHAMPIONSHIP ENTERING SECOND ROUND

Block Seeks Third Consecutive Event Title; Pastrana, Pinker Aim to Rebound from First Round Disappointment

SALEM, Mo., Feb. 18, 2008 -- Canadians Antoine L'Estage and Andrew Comrie-Picard top the point standings entering the second round of the Rally America National Championship, the high-speed Rally in the 100 Acre Wood on Feb. 22 and 23.

"I've never driven these roads before, but I hear they are very fast, which I always enjoy," said L'Estage of the demanding event, which takes place in the foothills of the Ozarks in central Missouri. "I know it will be challenging, but hopefully we can fight for the top spot and maybe keep our lead in the overall standings."

L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard will face stiff competition from Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino, who won the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in both 2006 and 2007.

"My goal is to win 100 Acre Wood for the third year in a row," said Block, who ranks fifth overall entering the event. "The roads are very fast and flowing. They are some of my favorite roads in the championship and fit my driving style very well. I plan on going flat out."

While Block hopes to retain his event title at 100 Acre Wood, other championship contenders aim to regain their form following disappointing performances in last month's Sno*Drift season opener.

Block's Subaru Rally Team USA teammate -- and 2007 Rally America champion -- Travis Pastrana enters the second round in 25th place overall after failing to finish the first event.

"I feel that the championship is really getting started here because most of the top competitors for the Rally America national championship had horrible results at the opener," said Pastrana. "The first event went really well for me except right at the finish when we hit a deer, but our speed was so good there that we have some confidence heading into 100 Acre Wood."

Last season's championship runner-up, Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team driver Andrew Pinker and co-driver Robbie Durant, enter the second round tied with Pastrana after also failing to finish the season opener.

"My goal for this rally is to get as many points on the board for the championship as possible," said Pinker, who finished third in his 100 Acre Wood debut in 2006. "We've made some changes and improvements on the car since Sno*Drift, where we had a few problems. We will have new engines in both my and (teammate) Tanner (Foust's) car, which will hopefully close the power gap between us and the factory teams."

The second round of the nine-event Rally America National Championship, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, begins Feb. 22 in Steelville, Mo., and concludes Feb. 23 in Salem, Mo.

-credit: www.rally-america.com.

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