Subaru driver Travis Pastrana Wins Third Consecutive Rally America National Championship with Victory at Rally Colorado
(September 15, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has mathematically secured his third consecutive Rally America National Championship driver's title with a win at the 2008 Rally Colorado. Pastrana and his co-driver Derek Ringer drove their BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI to victory by a mere 4.5 seconds over hard-charging privateer Subaru driver Kyle Sarasin. The win secures Pastrana the championship title with one round yet to run next month in Michigan.
Rally Colorado is based in the picturesque resort town of Steamboat Springs, just 150 miles into the mountains west of Denver. The rally includes over 100 miles of fast high-altitude gravel roads that are dusty when dry and notoriously slick when wet. The weather, however, for this year's edition of the event was nearly perfect with blue skies and sunshine for both days of competition.
After a season of consistent podium finishes and two victories, Pastrana needed only a sixth place or better finish at Rally Colorado to secure his third consecutive Rally America National Championship title. A win however was a distinct possibility when early on the first day several of Pastrana's closest challengers faltered. Pastrana then found himself with a healthy lead that he maintained through the remainder of the rally weekend. A cushion of nearly thirty seconds allowed him to drive just fast enough without taking risks, and Pastrana went on to win eight of eighteen total stages.
However, Pastrana's lead evaporated suddenly when, with just three stages to go, his Subaru hit a large rock that ripped apart the right rear tire, slowing him considerably. Pastrana's 31-second lead dropped to just 0.4 seconds, ahead of hard charging 20 year-old Kyle Sarasin piloting a privateer Subaru. Pastrana decided against conceding victory and pushed on the final two stages, beating Sarasin by just seconds on each stage and ending the rally with just a 4.5 second margin of victory.
"Any racer would have done the same, I just couldn't give it up," explained Pastrana. "After driving conservatively all weekend with a good lead, it was great to have a challenge at the end, it makes the win and the championship that much sweeter. This year definitely had its challenges like learning to work with a new co-driver and then driving a totally new rally car in the new 2008 STI, but Subaru along with my team made it all work out perfectly and the new 2008 STI was fast right out of the box."
"For Travis and Derek to win this rally represents a historic achievement for Subaru as it marks three consecutive Rally America titles for Travis with Subaru Rally Team USA," said James Han of Subaru of America, Inc.. "Having reclaimed the gold medal in X Games 14 Rally earlier this year, this season has been quite a testament to Travis' abilities and performance from the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI which our rally cars are based upon. With further potential in our cars yet to be developed, I'm looking forward to next year."
Pastrana's success was made possible in part by the bad luck this season of his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Ken Block, who has consistently outpaced Pastrana at several of this year's events. Although Block has won four rallies outright this year, only two have been Rally America National Championship events and so his points tally has suffered. At Rally Colorado that bad luck continued as Block experienced a rare power steering pump failure that threatened to knock him completely out of the rally. After electing to take a time penalty for illegal service, Block was able to continue the rally, but only after being handed a massive ten-minute penalty, dropping him to the back of the pack. Block steadily worked his way back up to a 7th overall finish, netting some much needed championship points entering into the final round of the series.