Andrew Pinker wins Oregon Trail Rally PORTLAND, OR (Rally America Media) -- Australian Andrew Pinker took his first win of the Rally America season this weekend at the Oregon Trail rally, a challenging and technical contest over forest roads ...
Andrew Pinker wins Oregon Trail Rally
PORTLAND, OR (Rally America Media) -- Australian Andrew Pinker took his first win of the Rally America season this weekend at the Oregon Trail rally, a challenging and technical contest over forest roads in western Oregon.
Pinker and co-driver Patrick Walsh overtook Subaru Rally Team USA's Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino during a long stage early in the second day and never looked back.
Pinker started this race as part of the Syms team, competing alongside Tanner Foust and co-driver Christine Beavis, and unveiled several new sponsors for his Subaru. He said the win represented a new beginning.
"Let's just start the season over from here," Pinker said Sunday afternoon after he crossed the finish line.
Pinker's driving style is clearly suited to the technical character of this three-day course through the Coast Mountain range. He took his first North American win at this contest in 2006.
Foust and Beavis, meanwhile, lost time to a flat tire early on the second day but still managed to round out the podium to finish third overall in their Subaru.
The race -- the third round in the series -- had a surprisingly high rate of attrition. A packed field of over 76 racers took to the start for a series of fan-pleasing track stages at the Portland International Raceway on Friday and, by the end of the contest, only 44 remained.
Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard was the first driver out after he suffered a mechanical problem during a demonstration stage just before the race was to begin. The team took the start anyway, pushing the car across the starting line while fans cheered in the grandstands. "I didn't drive all the way across the country to not even start," said Comrie-Picard. "Never say die."
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana was next to retire, pulling off less than four miles into the contest with a blown engine. Lauchlin O'Sullivan also retired Friday with engine trouble.
Saturday saw more high-profile teams out of the rally when Ramana Lagemann found himself stranded by the side of the road early in the day, and dark horse favorite Pat Richard withdrew due to brake failure. A number of PGT drivers -- including fan favorites Matt Johnson and Kenny Bartram -- also failed to finish the race.
Teams are battling for a chance to compete at this summer's X Games in Los Angeles. It is expected that the top six drivers after the first five rounds will secure an invitation to the wildly popular ESPN contest.
The Oregon rally also serves as the first event in the new MaxAttack! Triple Crown Rally series. Three events across the country this season will feature an $8,000 prize fund to be distributed among the top two-wheel-drive teams. Andrew Havas and co-driver Francois Morin were the fastest, claiming the top prize and a class win in a Group 5 Honda.
The PGT class win went to Stephan Verdier and co-driver Scott Crouch. It's the team's second win of the season. Verdier said his previous experience with the event served him well. "I knew coming in to this race how to drive it," he said. "You just had to go slow to win."
The Group N victory went to the sole class finishers Wyeth Gubelmann and Nathalie Richard in a Subaru, while Group 2 went to Michel Hoche-Mong and co-driver Sameer Parekh in a Volkswagen GTI.
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.
The 2007 Rally America National Championship series consists of nine events nationwide. Throughout the year, teams take on everything from the forest logging roads in Minnesota, to the high-altitude Yampa River Valley in Northwest Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest forest and coast paths. After Oregon Trail, the series remains in the west for one more round. The Olympus Rally takes place May 19 and 20 in Washington State.
Complete television coverage of the 2007 Rally America Championship airs on ESPN2 starting in early June.