BLOCK EARNS 100 ACRE WOOD WIN SALEM, Mo., Feb. 24, 2008 Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block earned a -- dominant victory at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, his third consecutive win at the fast and flowing central Missouri event. Block's...
BLOCK EARNS 100 ACRE WOOD WIN
SALEM, Mo., Feb. 24, 2008 Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block earned a -- dominant victory at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, his third consecutive win at the fast and flowing central Missouri event.
Block's Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Travis Pastrana and new co-driver Derek Ringer finished second, while two-time Rally America PGT class champion Matthew Johnson finished third to earn his first podium finish in an Open class car.
Unseasonably cold weather at the second round of the Rally America National Championship turned what is typically a gravel event to an ice and snow rally, and Block rose to the challenge.
"Once we figured out how much grip we had, it was just a matter of figuring out how to go fast on that grip," said Block, who assumed the Rally America National Championship points lead with his performance at 100 Acre Wood. "It was fairly consistent through the stages, so I just went flat out on the first day to get a lead and basically maintained the lead on the second day."
Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino blazed through the early stages of the rally on the first day of the two-day event, building a 30-second advantage over Pastrana and Ringer.
"The conditions were icy but really good," said Pastrana. "Ken is just amazing at this rally. He set some amazing times on the first two stages, and we were never able to catch up. He was faster than we were for the whole event."
Canadian Andrew Comrie-Picard and co-driver Marc Goldfarb, who finished second in the Rally America season opener last month, limped to the finish with heavy damage to their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.
After cracking their front end hard on Day 1, the duo spent Day 2 battling a failing transmission. They crashed again late in the day, but were able to hold on to a fourth-place finish -- just six seconds ahead of 18-year-old American Kyle Sarasin and co-driver Mikael Johansson in their Open class Subaru.
The demanding, high-speed Rally in the 100 Acre Wood was tough for many top teams.
Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard, the Rally America national points leaders entering the second round, failed to finish while battling for the lead early in the contest.
The Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team duo of Tanner Foust and co-driver Chrissie Beavis were in third place when mechanical trouble knocked them out on Day 2, while their teammates Andrew Pinker and co-driver Robbie Durant crashed on the penultimate stage and failed to finish.
Stephan Verdier and co-driver Scott Crouch took the PGT class win, finishing seventh overall. In two-wheel drive competition, Chris Duplessis and co-driver Martin Headland earned the victory in their Group 5 Volkswagen GTi.
The nine-event 2008 Rally America National Championship Series season continues with the Olympus Rally from April 19-20 in Olympia, Wash.
Quotes from selected Rally America National Championship Series drivers following the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood from Feb. 22-23 in Salem, Mo.:
TRAVIS PASTRANA (Second place) (No. 199 Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru Impreza WRX STI): About working with co-driver Derek Ringer: "It was just amazing. He really felt at home right away in the car. I had an awesome relationship with (former co-driver) Christian (Edstrom) and I was sad to see him go, but it was good to get someone as good as Derek, who can add a lot of knowledge to our team."
MATTHEW JOHNSON (Third place) (No. 46 Hankook RalliSpec Subaru Impreza WRX STI): "It feels really good. This was our third run in an Open class car, and each time, we've increased overall. I didn't have high expectations here. We had a small motor with a lot of miles on it and just tried to make it fancy by putting good tune on it. It was reliable. RalliSpec did a great job putting the car together so I didn't have to worry about it. I just drove and relaxed. During the (second) day, I thought I was going as fast as I could, but I kept finding ways to go faster, and I really enjoyed that. I just had a blast."
ANDREW COMRIE-PICARD (Fourth place) (No. 20 Slowboy Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX): "We had so many things go wrong with the car. We didn't want to lose fourth place. We wanted to get on the podium, if we could. We got two or three miles into the last stage, and we went into the trees. We hit the right front on a tree and hit the left rear on a tree. It was a pretty big impact. I didn't think we were going to make it out, but I just jammed it in reverse and backed out. The car is wrecked. We're going to have to go home and rebuild the whole thing."
KYLE SARASIN (Fifth place) (No. 55 CPD Racing Subaru Impreza WRX STI): "We just drove our own race -- no real drama. We picked the right tires when we needed to and maintained a good pace for the whole rally. We've had two good results in my first two races in an Open class car. They were both on snow, so I'm looking forward to trying it out on gravel. I'm excited for the next race to see how I fare against everyone else on gravel."
WILL CORRY (Eighth place) (No. 117 Subaru Impreza WRX STI): "I'm just glad I was able to get to the finish. A lot of people decided to try to be heroes, and on the last two stages, the attrition was pretty massive. All the panels are still straight on mine, which is good. I really like the roads at 100 Acre Wood. Obviously, they were a bit more challenging, given the weather conditions. I'm looking forward to coming back next year. I think it definitely would have suited me really well if it had been a drier event."
ANTOINE L'ESTAGE (DNF; Mechanical) (No. 17 Royal Group Yokohama Hyundai Tiburon): "We had two very good stages. Someone who was taking the splits halfway through the stages said that we were one second behind Ken (Block) three miles into Stage 3 and six seconds faster than Travis (Pastrana), so it was going well. But I just went wide, a little bit too fast, on a very fast corner. I thought I had recovered it -- we went sideways for a long time and just clipped a tree with the front of the car -- and we ripped a coolant hose and lost all the coolant. We continued for a mile but couldn't go further. It was my first time here, but I won't hide behind anything. I should maybe have changed the note a little bit, and maybe I was just going a bit too fast. It was a mistake. We were trying, and we were going fast. I was going to try to win. I was not settling for second, but those things happen sometimes. I'm disappointed, but I'm also happy with the pace we had for our first time here. It's been a long time -- almost a year -- since I've DNFed in a rally. I guess it had to happen one day."
TANNER FOUST (DNF -- Mechanical) (No. 4 Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STI): "Unfortunately, in rally, the devil's in the details, and a $1.50 piece of hardware -- a throttle cable -- snapped and ended our rally. We were chasing down the setup and felt that we had just started to find some traction and some speed when the cable went."