Pastrana leads Sno*Drift heading into Day 2, Block out
Subaru Rally Team USA Travis Pastrana was in the lead of the icy 2010 Rally America season-opener after the opening day's stages, while Ford driver Ken Block was out of the contest.
Heading into Day 2, Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom had a 54-second lead over Canadian challengers Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard.
But even as they're battling for position, the drivers say they're treading carefully. They agree that the strategy is to be conservative in order to avoid a wreck that would put them out of the contest early on.
"My grandma can drive faster than we're going… on a moped," said Pastrana on Friday. "It's just sheer ice."
Ken Block was reported out of the contest after the seventh stage late Friday. Early reports were that he suffered a mechanical failure.
"We had some sort of component in the suspension break," Block told WorldRallySport.com. "It's really unfortunate because I was driving conservatively and was in third place and just trying to finish."
In third place at the end of Day 1 were Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt in their Mitsubishi Evo IX. The NOS Energy Drink team of Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey were in fourth place.
"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."
Subaru Rally Team USA's Dave Mirra and co-driver Derek Ringer rounded out the top five. Mirra has moved up from Super Production to the Open class for 2010 and said he was enjoying the more powerful car.
The father-son team of Travis and Terry Hanson were in sixth-place overall after eight stages, and leading the Super Production class.
The top two-wheel drive team was Chris Duplessis and Catherine Woods in a 1990 Volkswagen GTI. The duo were the only two-wheel drive car 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.
Monster World Rally Team driver Ken Block had a strong start to the event, winning the first stage and maintaining a consistent top-three pace. Spectators on the seventh stage reported that Block's Ford Fiesta took a spin.
In the United States, Block is driving a Ford Fiesta originally prepared for the European Rally Cross series by the Swedish Olsbergs MSE team. 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.
Some 52 cars took the start in Atlanta, Michigan, on Saturday morning. But the icy conditions were taking their toll on the field.
The first teams out on Friday were Heath Nunnemacher and co-driver Mike Rossey in their 2002 Subaru WRX, and the Group 2 Volvo of Ian and Jay Topping. Neither car made it through the first stage. Both returned on Saturday to run the Day 2 regional.
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 – the weather here at this time of year is bitterly cold. For the 2010 running of the event, the course roads are covered in glare ice. Teams cover 130 miles of competitive stages over two days.
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.