Ken Block takes early lead at STPR (Wellsboro, PA) June 5th, 2009 ---Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block set a blazing pace on the opening stages of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally to take a commanding early lead, while the ...
Ken Block takes early lead at STPR
(Wellsboro, PA) June 5th, 2009 ---Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block set a blazing pace on the opening stages of the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally to take a commanding early lead, while the Swedish World Rally Team of Patrik Sandell and Emil Axelsson were reported out of the contest after only one stage.
It was not immediately clear what happened to Sandell and Axelsson, but it is believed they suffered an engine failure. It was tough luck for Sandell, who had been expected to challenge for the win at this contest. The driver has won two Production World Rallies so far this year, and was the Junior World Rally Champion in 2006.
In second place at the end of Day 1 were Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt who moved up a position after the NOS Energy team of Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and Irish co-driver Marshall Clark were handled a penalty for fuelling procedures that dropped them down in the standings.
In third place were Subaru Rally Team USA's Travis Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom who had trouble in the second of the rough early stages and damaged their suspension.
Pat Moro and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey were leading the Super Production charge and in fourth-place overall, followed by Piotr Wiktorczyk and Grzegorz Dorman.
Pastrana wasn't the only driver to have trouble in the opening miles of the rally. The two runs through the rough and rocky Waste Management stage were tough on competition vehicles. Canadians Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard lost boost, dropping a minute to the leader in the first stage. Andi Mancin and co-driver Ryszard Ciupka took a rock to a brake line and struggled to finish Stage 1 without brakes, while rally newcomer Brian Deegan broke a driveshaft on the second stage.
"We got going and nursed it to the end. We're here now--" said Deegan as his crew thrashed to repair the car during the 15 minute service break. "I like the new challenge and like something different but it's just frustrating not being good at something."
Deegan made his name as a supercross and motocross star, and founding member of the Metal Mulisha group of riders. Deegan is the latest action sports star to try his hand at rally competition, joining the likes of Pastrana and Dave Mirra -- both series regulars.
In addition to battling for championship points, teams are vying for a shot at X Games gold in August. Four top points scorers in the series after this event will earn an invitation and it's possible that a win at STPR could translate to a starting spot at the Los Angeles contest.
Six drivers --Pastrana, Comrie-Picard, Block, Mirra, Foust and Matt Johnson -- have already been invited to compete. The next four top scorers in the series are expected to receive an invitation. Two other so-called "at large" drivers have yet to be named.
The Susquehannock Trail event has been running since 1977, and has long been known as one of the most demanding events on the calendar. The 2009 running of the contest features a return to the popular two-day format, with a spectator-friendly daylight schedule and super special stages on each day.