Sno*Drift: Series round one final report

Defending Champ Travis Pastrana Takes Sno*Drift Win Atlanta, MI (January 30, 2010) -- Defending Rally America champion Travis Pastrana skated to victory on Saturday at Sno*Drift, the incredibly slick 2010 season opener. Pastrana and co-driver...

Defending Champ Travis Pastrana Takes Sno*Drift Win

Atlanta, MI (January 30, 2010) -- Defending Rally America champion Travis Pastrana skated to victory on Saturday at Sno*Drift, the incredibly slick 2010 season opener.

Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom built a solid early lead and continued to put time on the rest of the field over the course of the two-day rally --- despite a badly injured left shoulder.

"Man, I'm really excited," said Pastrana. "Everybody next rally is going to come with a sling."

Pastrana broke his collarbone last Sunday during a motocross ride and had to undergo surgery this week to plate it back together before he could drive. But, ever the optimist, Pastrana said the injury actually helped his performance.

"As slick a the roads were out here, I drove as smooth as I could -- for the shoulder -- and it made me focus a little bit more," he said at the finish. "It was probably the best thing that could have happened for us."

In second place, more than a minute and a half back, were challengers Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard. The former Canadian champions typically run select events south of the border and added Sno*Drift to their calendar this season.

"I was hoping to be closer to Travis and fight for the win but he was the fastest this weekend, so congrats to him," said L'Estage. "It was such a tough rally with crazy conditions -- glare ice on all the stages."

Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt earned the third spot on the podium with a measured drive. Bacon is a proven podium threat, but typically runs only a partial championship season.

"Everyone's saying how icy it was, but the reality is you could have skated half of the rally," said Bacon. "People don't really know how icy it was out there."

Fourth place went to the NOS Energy team of Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey, while the father-son team of Travis and Terry Hanson rounded out the top-five and took the Super Production class win.

The top two-wheel drive team was Chris Duplessis and Catherine Woods, who finished 11th overall in a 1990 Volkswagen GTI. The duo were the only two-wheel drive car to finish in the top half of the field. Duplessis is an extremely talented two-wheel drive competitor who cut his teeth as an instructor at the Team O'Neil rally school.

The treacherous event claimed several high-profile victims.

Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino, who made the move from Subaru to Ford this year as part of their campaign with the Monster World Rally Team, failed to finish after a mechanical failure on Day 1.

"We had some sort of component in the suspension break," Block said. "It's really unfortunate because I was driving conservatively and was in third place and just trying to finish."

Subaru Rally Team USA's Dave Mirra and co-driver Derek Ringer -- who moved up from Super Production to Open class for 2010 -- had been running as high as fourth overall in the event before they found some snow banks and a tree late on Day 2. The team pulled into the final control of the day shedding pieces of bodywork from their battered car. But, even after the incident, they still managed to finish in sixth place.

Comrie-Picard and Wimpey also slid into a snow bank on Stage 9 and were stuck until rally novices Craig Decker and co-driver Adam Craig -- pro mountain bikers who are running their first national event this weekend -- stopped to help them out.

Sno*Drift is one of the few true snow rallies in the world. Located in the region of the 45th parallel -- the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole -- and the weather here at this time of year is bitterly cold. For the 2010 running of the event, the course roads were covered in glare ice. Teams cover 130 miles of competitive stages over two days.

Unusual among snow events, the Sno*Drift rally does not permit teams to use studded tires so competing in these conditions is an extremely specialized skill. Rally rules traditionally require cars to be street legal and studs are not allowed in this part of Michigan.

The second round in the Rally America championship is the 100 Acre Wood Rally February 26 - 27 in southern Missouri.

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.

This year there will be six forest events from Maine to Washington, before X Games 16, plus three new European style rallycross events after X Games -- all based in Southern New Jersey.

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.

All results are considered provisional pending official post-event race processes.

-source: rally america

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alex Gelsomino , Christian Edstrom , Travis Pastrana , Derek Ringer , Antoine L'Estage , Nathalie Richard , Peter Watt , Ken Block , Dave Mirra , Catherine Woods , Jeremy Wimpey , Chris Duplessis