Subaru Rally Team USA Driver Travis Pastrana Finishes Wales Rally GB in Challenging Conditions
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana, the reigning 2006 and 2007 Rally America National Champion has finished this past weekend's Wales Rally Great Britain, the final round of the 2007 World Rally Championship. Pastrana was entered in the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC), a highly competitive series that features among its world class entries many other National champions from across the w orld. Enduring historically harsh weather conditions Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom drove their BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car to an 11th Overall finish in the PWRC. The Wales Rally GB marks the third ever WRC event for the young Pastrana, who previously entered and finished WRC events in Mexico and Argentina earlier this year.
This year's Wales Rally GB marked the 75th edition of the classic event, which was previously known as the RAC Rally. The rally takes place in and around Wales and is based in its capital, Cardiff. The three day event included over 224 miles of slick forest roads, that are considered some of the most difficult stages in the World Rally Championship, especially when typical Welsh weather of rain and fog are present. The weather was the story of the weekend, as high winds, driving rains and dense fog plagued the drivers from the onset.
"This was the most difficult rally I have ever finished," explained Pastrana. "At times the fog was so thick that I couldn't see the hood of my Subaru , and the rain poured so hard that the wipers couldn't work fast enough! It was terrifying but fun. We gained some good experience with creating our own stage notes, which we don't do much in the USA, and it was a definite improvement over the previous two PWRC rounds. My stage times are not where I want them to be yet, but I have accept that more speed will come as I get more experience. We have made it to the finish of all three of my first WRC rounds this year which says a lot for my Subaru and for my team."
Pastrana was nearly out of contention for a good result early in the rally when he experienced two tire punctures on the first set of three stages. Having to stop on-stage to address the second puncture in the heavy rain and mud cost Pastrana over four minutes and thirty seconds. In total , the Subaru Rally Team USA driver experienced five tire punctures over the weekend. A broken ball-joint halted his progress on Leg 2, causing him to miss the Leg's final three stages . However, WRC rules, under a 'Superally' provision, allow drivers who don't finish a stage to continue on in the rally the next day incurring a five minute penalty per stage missed.
Nonetheless, in the process of overcoming tire punctures, dense fog and pounding rains Pastrana netted five top-ten stage times in the PWRC and routinely traded stage times with established veteran International drivers. "From the outset of our 2007 PWRC campaign, the team's intent has been to gain valuable experience at several international events and position itself for greater competitiveness for the upcoming seasons", says James Han, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Subaru of America, Inc. "Travis continues to impress us by posting some surprisingly quick stage times as a rookie against very experienced drivers in Wales. I feel this performance by the entire team is a positive sign of things to come in our future PWRC campaign."
This year marked the third season of rallying for the 23 year-old Pastrana, after making a full time switch to rallying from motocross. In 2007 he took victory on four Rally America National Championship events going on to win the Championship for the second consecutive year. He netted a Bronze at the X Games Rally and finished PWRC events in Mexico, Argentina and Wales in 5th, 10th and 11th respectively. His one remaining event is the International Race Of Champions on December 16th where he'll represent the USA with teammate and 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson against F1, WRC and Touring Car stars from across the World.
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar.