Subaru Rally Team USA Prepares For A Snowy Debut In Michigan
Subaru Rally Team USA will debut at this weekend's SnoDrift Rally, round one of the 2006 Rally America National Championship. The team has entered two Open Class 2006 Subaru WRX STI rally cars for X-Games star Travis Pastrana and Ken Block, the '2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year'. The duo will tackle nearly 130 miles of snow and ice covered roads in north central Michigan.
The SnoDrift rally was where Pastrana first got behind the wheel of a rally car in competition just two years ago. He and his co-driver Christian Edstrom set impressive stage times at the event in 2004, but found themselves digging their Subaru out of a snowbank on more than one occasion. Although he completed a near full season of rallying in 2005, with several podium finishes to his name, the 2006 SnoDrift Rally will be only the second time Pastrana has entered a snow rally. "There are a lot of drivers here that have experience in the snow, so it will be a real challenge," explains Pastrana, "But our new 2006 Subaru WRX STI felt perfect in testing today and the feeling within the team is excellent."
Pastrana's teammate Ken Block, co-driven by Alex Gelsomino, has some prior experience in the snow. Having entered three snow rallies in the last year, including a 7th Overall finish at last year's SnoDrift Rally. "The road conditions are so variable here, there is ice, snow and everything in between," says Block. "But a podium finish is a definite possibility if we stay smooth and adjust to the slippery conditions."
Winter conditions in Michigan are hard to predict but some combination of fresh snow and glazed ice is always expected. Current Rally America rules restrict rally cars from using studded ice tires which makes finding traction extremely difficult for the drivers. There has been some recent snowfall in the area and now small snowbanks line the roads. These snowbanks can help a rally driver stay on the road and avoid clipping the trees, but hitting a snowbank too hard can easily get the car stuck deep in the snow. Therefore a shovel is an essential item stored in the trunk of any rally car competing here.
Friday morning the crews will take part in a short shakedown stage to get ready for a 3pm start. Be sure to visit www.rally.subaru.com for all the latest news and photos from Round 6 of the 2006 Rally America National Championship and the debut of Subaru Rally Team USA.
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by DC Shoes, Red Bull, Michelin, SPT (Subaru Performance Parts), STI (Subaru Technica International), PIAA, Motul, Alpinestars and Recaro.