Ken Block Leads Olympus Rally After Day 1 Aberdeem, WA ( April, 17, 2009) -- Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has a 20 second lead after the fast and flowing Day 1 stages of the Olympus Rally in western Washington, while a fierce battle...
Ken Block Leads Olympus Rally After Day 1
Aberdeem, WA ( April, 17, 2009) -- Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has a 20 second lead after the fast and flowing Day 1 stages of the Olympus Rally in western Washington, while a fierce battle rages behind him.
"It's good," said Block. "But the stages tomorrow are even better suited to my style, so I'm really looking forward to it."
The rugged 2009 course is a test of competitors' range of skills, with roads that transition between Saturday's flat-out fast stages, to a twisty and tree-lined technical challenge on Sunday.
Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and co-driver Robbie Durant ended the day in second place in their NOS Energy Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, after battling hard with Subaru Rally Team USA's Travis Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom during the final three stages.
The two teams were tied entering the last leg on Saturday and, after three stages and 25 miles of hard driving, Comrie-Picard and Durant managed to pull two seconds ahead of the Subaru team.
"Everybody is driving flat out," said Pastrana. "I'm at 100 per cent; I'm all in -- tomorrow should be good and hopefully we can catch number 43 (Block)."
Rockstar Energy's Tanner Foust and Chrissie Beavis, meanwhile, had dropped two positions to finish the day in fourth place, after they suffered mechanical trouble with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and began losing time. The duo were six seconds out of third place Saturday evening.
Foust said a driveshaft started coming loose, affecting the car's performance and rattling his confidence.
"Things were going well until this happened," said a disappointed Foust as he watched his team's mechanics working on the car Saturday evening. "But anything can happen on Day 2 and we're still in it."
There was also plenty of drama in the hotly contested Super Production class, with Piotr Wiktorczyk and co-driver Grzegorz Dorman leading the charge in their Subaru WRX STi. They took over the class lead late on Saturday after Matt Johnson and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey found themselves out of contention due to mechanical trouble.
Meanwhile Subaru Rally Team USA's newest member, Dave Mirra, said he was struggling in his new Subaru WRX STi. He and co-driver Derek Ringer were second in class and seventh overall at the end of the first day.
Weather in the region is notoriously unpredictable at this time of year, but the rally promises to be clear and dry throughout. Teams lined up in Aberdeen, Washington, for the opening Parc Expose under sunny skies Saturday morning and forecasters were predicting the good weather would hold until the end of the contest.
Heading into Round 3, Comrie-Picard and Foust are tied for the series lead, followed by the Subaru Rally Team USA drivers -- Pastrana and Block -- who are tied for second place in the championship.
The storied Olympus Rally is relatively new to the Rally America calendar, having returned to the national series in 2007. But the event has a lengthy history.
It was first run as a national event in 1973 and was a favorite stop on World Rally Championship calendar from 1986 to 1988. Rally racing legends including Rod Millen, Juha Kankkunen and American John Buffum are among those who have claimed victories at the famed contest.
Rally car racing is considered the extreme sport of automobile racing and is often described simply as "real cars, real roads, real fast." This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads.
Top teams in the series are also invited to compete in the Summer X Games, the leading action sports event broadcast live on ABC and ESPN. Eight top teams have already been invited to this August's contest. Among the marques typically represented in Rally America events are Subaru, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen.