Subaru Rally Team USA Travis Pastrana was in the lead of the icy 2010 Rally America season-opener early Friday.

After four stages, Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom had a 23-second lead over Canadian challengers Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard. But even as they're battling for position, the drivers say it's slow. They agree that the strategy is to be conservative in order to avoid a wreck that would put them out of the rally early on.

"My grandma can drive faster than we're going… on a moped," said Pastrana as he pulled into the first service after four stages. "It's just sheer ice."

Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block was another 11 seconds behind L'Estage and said he was still trying to get a feel for the new car. Before announcing his switch to Ford late last year, he spent five years behind the wheel competing alongside Pastrana for Subaru. "These conditions are unbelievable," said Block. "I'm just learning the car right now."

In the United States, Block is driving a Ford Fiesta originally prepared for the European Rally Cross series by Olsbergs MSE. The car debuted with driver Kenny Brack at X Games this summer. Block will compete in an M-Sport Ford in selected rounds of the World Rally Championship this year.

Trailing Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino by over a minute were Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt. NOS Energy Drink driver Andrew Comrie-Picard and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey rounded out the top five.

"I have been racing for 10 years and won both of the major snow events, but I've never seen anything like this," said Comrie-Picard after four stages. "The ice is absolutely unbelievable."

Some 54 cars took the start this morning in downtown Lewiston, Michigan. It is expected that by the end of the day today, the field will have whittled down considerably due to the tough conditions. Even after the first stage, the teams of Heath Nunnemacher and co-driver Mike Rossey, and the Group 2 Volvo of Ian and Jay Topping were both reported out of the contest.

Sno*Drift one of the few true snow rallies in the world. Teams will cover 130 miles of competitive stages through northern Michigan over two days this weekend.

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.

About Rally America

Based in Golden Valley, Minn., Rally America sanctions the premier rally racing series in the United States, the Rally America National Championship Series. In 2010, Rally America will conduct six National Championship events at venues across the country, from Olympia, Wash., to Bethel, Maine, and three European style rallycross events in New Jersey.