BATTLE FOR RALLY AMERICA CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS TO FINAL ROUND Pinker, Pastrana, Block to Face Challenging, Changeable Conditions in Three-Way Fight for Title HOUGHTON, Mich., Oct. 22, 2007 -- The stage is set for a three-way shootout between ...
BATTLE FOR RALLY AMERICA CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS TO FINAL ROUND
Pinker, Pastrana, Block to Face Challenging, Changeable Conditions in Three-Way Fight for Title
HOUGHTON, Mich., Oct. 22, 2007 -- The stage is set for a three-way shootout between Andrew Pinker, Travis Pastrana and Ken Block for the Rally America title as the series heads to northern Michigan for the final race of the 2007 season, the Lake Superior Performance Rally on Oct. 26-27.
Entering the LSPR event, RockStar Energy Drink Rally Team driver Pinker maintains a four-point lead over Subaru Rally Team USA teammates Pastrana and Block in the championship standings.
As a result of the Rally America point structure, which allows drivers to "drop" their two lowest finishes from their championship total, either Pastrana or Pinker can take the 2007 Rally America title with a victory at the season finale. If Block wins, Pastrana must finish third or worse for Block to claim the title.
If none of the three championship contenders win at LSPR, Pinker must earn five points more than Pastrana in order claim his first Rally America championship. If he fails to do so, Pastrana will become the first back-to-back champion in Rally America history.
Australian standout Pinker, who has never competed on the challenging and changeable LSPR stage roads, must overcome that disadvantage in order to defeat Block and Pastrana.
"They recognize places every time they go around, which we noticed from Colorado," explained Pinker of the SRT USA teammates. "That does make it difficult, but I think this rally is a lot trickier in that it will be a bit wet and a bit slippery. That might level the playing field some. We will be attacking from the very start and going flat out the whole way. We will either finish in front of them or possibly not at all."
Following a win at Rally Colorado in September and a productive test session two weeks ago, Block is eager for the chance to claim his first series title.
"My confidence is very high right now," said Block, who won the LSPR event last year. "It rained pretty hard during the test, so I was able to do some good set-up changes to get ready for the possible slippery situations in Michigan. Because the conditions change so much at that event, it's good to have these other setups ready."
Pinker, who admits that the factory-backed Subaru Rally Team USA duo has a slight power advantage over his privateer effort, views the unpredictable wintry weather of Michigan's Upper Peninsula as an ally in his fight for the Rally America title.
"We have been struggling to keep up with them this year," noted Pinker. "The money makes it difficult, with the difference between the two teams, so we are working hard to close that gap and continue to be the David and Goliath story this season.
"At LSPR, the rain and snow has a positive affect. If it is a slippery event, the fact that our car doesn't have as much horsepower shouldn't be as big of a disadvantage. Of course, the more powerful the car the better, but the rain reduces the difference."
For Pastrana, whose all-or-nothing approach owes much to his legendary exploits in motocross competition, the plan for this weekend is simple.
"All I have to do is win," said Pastrana. "It's four points difference between first and second, so it's every man for himself."
The ninth and final round of the 2007 Rally America National Championship season, the Lake Superior Performance Rally, will be broadcast at 6 p.m. EST Nov. 20 on ESPN2.
-credit: rally america