August 26th, 2005
Rookie rally driver Travis Pastrana stormed back from early setbacks to claim 3rd Overall and 2nd in theGroup N class at the Ojibwe Forest Rally, Round 6 of the Rally America Championship. Pastrana’s Vermont SportsCar teammate, DC Shoes co-founder Ken Block, withdrew from the event after colliding heavily with a tree and damaging his car’s roll cage. With the result Pastrana moves up to 4th Overall in the Rally America Championship standings.
Northern Minnesota’s fast and flowing sandy gravel roads provide the course for Ojibwe Forest rally’s 138 miles. Although the roads don’t have a reputation of being hard on rally cars they certainly were to young Pastrana at the start. On the first timed stage Pastrana was struck with a flat tire and a damaged driveshaft issues on two separate occasions. After only three stages Pastrana had lost well over minute to the leaders, a nearly insurmountable margin.
While Pastrana was hit with problems his teammate Ken Block was going well in 4th Overall when he made contact with a tree and sustained heavy damage to his car. “We went wide and clipped a tree that sent us spinning around into another tree,” said Block. “We lost a bunch of time before getting back on the road and finishing the stage, however when we finally had a minute to survey the damage we saw that the roll cage was damaged and thus we withdrew from the rally.”
After his early problems Pastrana quickly charged forward in his Subaru WRX STi from 7th Overall to 4th and began to challenge for 3rd. However he would remain in 4th Overall for most of the rally. To his frustration Pastrana just couldn’t find the speed to surpass his rivals in front of him. “We tried everything including different driving styles to try and make up more time but there was nothing I could do to catch the top three,” explained Pastrana. “I just need more practice to find those last few seconds.”
Luck would pay Pastrana a visit on the final stage of the rally when the leader, current US Champion Patrick Richard retired from the event with a mechanical problem, thus bumping Travis to 3rd overall and 2nd in Group N behind former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist. “I really have to thank Vermont SportsCar for this one, they got the car totally working right after all the problems early on, then the car ran flawless and I got plenty of miles of much needed experience,” said Pastrana after the celebratory champagne spray.
Pastrana and Block will head next to the Colorado Cog Rally in
Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Sept 17-18).