Dave Mirra and Ken Block Swap Rally Cars At Oregon Trail Rally
(May 21, 2008) BMX legend and burgeoning rally driver Dave Mirra got his first chance to drive a top specification Open Class Subaru rally car in competition on the final day of last weekend's Oregon Trail Rally, after swapping cars with Monster Energy teammate Ken Block. Mirra was northing short of impressive at the wheel of Block's BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, netting a 3rd and a 4th fastest overall stage time on two of the four competition stages run on Sunday. Block, who was leading the Rally America National Championship points standings entering Oregon 'stepped-down' to drive Mirra's lower spec, non-turbo Subaru Impreza.
The swap was possible only after Block and Mirra found themselves officially out of the Oregon Trail Rally, round four of the Rally America National Championship, after they each slid their usual rally cars into ditches and became stuck off the road. Neither rally car sustained damage and the duo had the option of re-starting the event the following day for the final four stages of competition. Although they could not score national championship points the roads and the competition would be the same.
So the two friends kept things interesting by arranging a car swap with each other! Block literally signed his top-spec Open class rally car over to Mirra on Sunday with a message on the hood that read; "Congrats Dave, it's graduation day-- here's your new car. Keep the shiny side up!" Block then spent some time with Mirra pointing out a few of the differences and unique features of his car before handing over the keys. Block's Subaru Rally Team USA backed Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car is built to the limit of the Rally America Open Class rules, with nearly double the power of Mirra's 'rookie spec' Subaru. Block's car is also lighter and features a dog-engagement transmission enabling quicker, clutch-less gear shifting.
Mirra was slated to begin driving this higher-spec rally car at the next round in Pennsylvania (the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally, June 6-7th ) after having started off his rally career with a much lower specification, non-turbo Subaru Impreza. After competing in five rallies over the past six months Mirra recently earned a full unrestricted Rally America competition license, allowing him the opportunity to drive a much more powerful machine such as Block's Subaru.
With a huge grin, Mirra and his co-driver Alex Kihurani jumped into Block's rally car and cautiously attacked the four remaining competition stages on Sunday. "That Subaru was just amazing to drive, it's a whole different ball game than the car I've been learning with," explained Mirra. "I had to be really careful because I kept getting stuck in the dust of cars that I was catching up with ahead of us, but we had a clean run on one of the stages where I got 3rd fastest overall. It was an amazing opportunity to get to test this car on some real rally stages ahead of the next rally in Pennsylvania, where I'll be driving this car again. I'm still buzzing from this drive, it was incredible."
Ken Block, with co-driver Alex Gelsomino, will debut the much anticipated all-new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI at the next round, making his 2007 Subaru available to Mirra for the remainder of the 2008 season. Mirra will run a limited number of the remaining 2008 rally events due to BMX competition schedule conflicts.
While Mirra was learning to tame Ken Block's wildly powerful rally car, Block had to contend with driving Mirra's much slower Subaru through the technical loose gravel roads of Oregon. "We had a good time with it, even if it was painfully slow!," said Block. "It was a good lesson in how to keep momentum up through the turns, because the car just lacks the raw acceleration of my usual ride. Most of all it made me really appreciate my own Subaru! I was glad to see Dave didn't put a scratch on my car and he set a few very impressive stage times, so it was very encouraging."