Monday, October 20, 2008

Block and Pastrana wrap up Rally America Championship

Victory on this weekend’s Lake Superior Performance Rally for P-WRC driver Ken Block and a podium for Travis Pastrana secured the Subaru Rally Team USA duo first and second place in the 2008 Rally America National Championship.
The event was the 9th and final round of the American Championship and covered 197 miles of special stages along the northern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino started the rally locked in a battle for second overall in the championship with young privateer Subaru driver Kyle Sarasin and Canadian driver Andrew Comrie-Picard.
Block's 2008 domestic season has been one of ups and downs; after a strong start with multiple wins he later experienced a string of poor results and misfortune which helped Pastrana take control of the series. On the Lake Superior rally, however, Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino returned to form and were virtually untouchable in their Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block took the lead on the first stage and went on to win 11 of 17 stages and finish with a lead of more than one minute. The result concluded a successful domestic season for Block and Pastrana who between them won six of the nine events.
"I'm glad to end the season with the win. Now I've got some momentum going into next year, so I'm very happy," said Block. "It's great for the team to finish 1-2 in the Championship, and we have proven the new 2008 STI can win, next year it will only get better."
After mathematically securing the championship at the previous round in Colorado, Pastrana entered the rally with little pressure to win. So to further his development he requested American rally legend John Buffum co-drive for him at this final Rally America round. Buffum is the most successful American rally driver of all time, with 11 championship titles to his name and over 120 rally wins.
Starting 3rd on the road, the duo was slowed by heavy dust as well as a puncture early in the event. Pastrana settled for third overall while Block and Sarasin continued to push each other for the overall victory.
"I had the pleasure of teaming up with rally legend John Buffum. I think he has forgotten more about rally than I will ever know! It was amazing just having him in the car," explained Pastrana. "Although we weren't fighting for the win, it's impossible to not have fun on these Michigan roads."
After finishing 13th in the P-WRC competition on his last WRC outing in New Zealand, Block will be back in his Impreza on the forthcoming Rally Japan.

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